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Putting individuals in control of whether they keep their personal data private or share it for the public good

DECODE aims to create a simple and flexible system of rules - which third parties can use to build applications - allowing people to decide how their data is used, by whom and for what purpose.

Many internet services are free to use, but require people to share their data as a condition of use. This data is increasingly accumulated by a small number of big companies, who use and monetise this data, often without the awareness of the people who created it.

The huge quantities of data produced on the web every day offers the potential for insights that could benefit all of society. With the data controlled by a handful of monopolies, society cannot benefit from these insights. The monopolisation of data creates economic inefficiencies, and threatens to undermine trust between individuals and companies, which is essential for a stable and functioning economy.

DECODE is a response to people’s concerns about the loss of control over their personal information on the internet. The ability to access, control and use personal data has become a means by which internet companies can drive profits. The project, therefore, explores how to build a data-centric digital economy where data that is generated and gathered by citizens, the Internet of Things (IoT), and sensor networks is available for broader communal use, with appropriate privacy protections.

This is an experimental project aiming to develop practical alternatives to how the internet is used today; with four European pilots, The project is conducting four pilots to  test this technology in Amsterdam and Barcelona. These trials will demonstrate the wider social value that comes with individuals being given control of their personal data and the means to share it differently.

As a result, innovators, startups, NGOs, cooperatives, and local communities can take advantage of that data to build apps and services that respond to their needs and those of the wider community.

In one of the pilots, DECODE will support  citizens in Barcelona to use noise sensors to gather and analyse data to influence city-level decisions. The project will also help  citizen-generated data to be aggregated and blended from a range of different sources, including healthcare data, and administrative open data.

This gives citizens the option to control the use of that information for specific purposes.It will also test how people can remain  ‘anonymous but authenticated’ when interacting with local digital services.

DECODE is a three-year EU-funded CAPS project, running between January 2017 and December 2019.

The DECODE project is a consortium of 14 partners from across Europe:

BCMI Labs AB, City of Amsterdam, CNRS, Dyne, Eurecat, Institut Municipal d'Informatica de Barcelona (IMI), Nesta, Politecnico di Torino/Nexa, Stichting Katholieke Universiteit, Nijmegen Privacy & Identity Lab, Thingful, ThoughtWorks, UCL, Open University of Catalonia, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and Waag.

Case study date: April 2018.




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