Every time you Google something, Facebook someone, Uber somewhere, or even just turn on a light, you create data that companies use to make decisions. Whether it is a bank deciding on your loan or an employer evaluating your job application, big data can be used against you, rather than for you.


About the book

In DATA FOR THE PEOPLE, Andreas Weigend challenges the prevailing view about the data you create. Rather than perpetuating a romanticized view of privacy, he argues for an increase in transparency and agency—individuals need to become data literate. Drawing on his work with firms in retail, travel, finance, and healthcare, he proposes six data rights to empower people to make better decisions:

  1. The right to access your data

  2. The right to inspect data refineries

  3. The right to amend data

  4. The right to blur your data

  5. The right to experiment with the refineries

  6. The right to port your data

By understanding these rights, individuals will see how both sides—data creators and data companies—stand to benefit from more transparency. Weigend argues that many efforts to opt out of data tracking and collection are not necessarily the best for the individual. We have come to rely on big data services to help us decide which goods and services match our wants and needs; we turn to data companies to help us get from to our desired destination, whether we’re looking for a ride across town or a lifelong romantic partner.

Data companies help us make better decisions—but they can only do this if people allow some of their data to be used by the refineries. In exchange, we need tools and mechanisms that allow us to weigh the risks, costs and benefits, with far more latitude to decide exactly how much, with whom, and for what purpose we share our data trails.

As Weigend writes: “The more the data companies record about each one of us, the more we exist, the more we can know about ourselves. The real issues are how to ensure that the data companies are as transparent to us as we are to them, and that we have some say in how our data are used. DATA FOR THE PEOPLE explains how we can achieve both of these ends.”

With scores of examples from the future of work, education, healthcare, retail, cities and mobility, DATA FOR THE PEOPLE is at once practical and empowering for any individual and important for society at large. Written to guide an era that will be shaped by data rights just as dramatically as civil rights shaped the last one, DATA FOR THE PEOPLE will redefine the balance of power between the individual and the institution.