In his new NYT column, Richard Thaler offers a guiding principle for policymakers thinking about rules around how personal data can and should be collected and disseminated.
If a business collects data on consumers electronically, it should provide them with a version of that data that is easy to download and export to another Web site. Think of it this way: you have lent the company your data, and you’d like a copy for your own use.
This month in Britain, the government announced an initiative along these lines called “mydata.” (I was an adviser on this project.) Although British law already requires companies to provide consumers with usage information, this program is aimed at providing the data in a computer-friendly way. The government is working with several leading banks, credit card issuers, mobile calling providers and retailers to get things started.
More about mydata in the U.K. is here.
Addendum: Thaler talks about his column on NPR’s Marketplace.