Microsoft Develops Data Dignity Project to Empower Users

Microsoft’s CTO office is reportedly creating a Data Dignity team to find ways to give users more control over their personal information — including the possibility of buying and selling it to third-parties. To set itself apart from other tech behemoths, Microsoft has been asserting its efforts for consumer privacy. But the company has faced its own privacy faux pas such as collecting data for Windows 10 and using human workers to transcribe Skype conversations. Data Dignity could help burnish its image.

ZDNet reports that it had earlier “unearthed some information” about Microsoft’s Project Bali, an incubation project described as a “new personal data bank, which puts users in control of all data collected about them.” On the project’s website, it states its goal as a way to “give users a way to store, visualize, manage, control, share and monetize the data.”

On January 23, The New York Times ran an article in which virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier, a chief scientist at Microsoft, stated that users should get paid for their personal data; he uses the term “data dignity” in describing his plan to change the status quo.

ZDNet did a search on that term and found The Art of Research, an organization led by Lanier and “embedded” in the Microsoft CTO office. The site noted Christian Liensberger, a principal PM manager and advisor to Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott, is leading Data Dignity. The Office of the CTO is working on two projects in addition to Data Dignity: “making deep learning ‘legible’, and applying mixed reality to the practical use of deep learning.”