Law in the Internet Society

How Individuals Maintain Privacy and Control Personal Data

-- By MayaWakamatsu - 08 Dec 2021

1. Introduction

Nowadays, many people use services like email, calendar, and SNS which are provided for free by firms like Google, Apple, or Facebook. However, their personal data is collected and surveilled by the firms, and the personal data is used for commercial purposes. In this essay, I would like to discuss how individuals can protect their personal data from firms.

2. Possible solutions

2.1.1 Public-private partnership platform (the personal digital twin scheme)

The personal digital twin scheme is a method to utilize the "personal digital twin" that mirrors the virtual existence of physical objects as a twin in the digital environment. This original idea is the technical concept of the digital twin used for production control and quality control in the manufacturing industry. Mirroring the virtual existence of a physical object as twins in a digital simulation environment, and applying this to humans is called a personal digital twin. The Singapore government introduced a project called Virtual Singapore, in which they use digital twin technology (

2.1.2 Analysis

The personal digital twin technology is expected to expand into various fields such as medical care, insurance, and finance. One idea is to utilize this technology in the privacy area as well. The idea is that middleware installed on devices such as smartphones and computers refers to the data of the personal digital twin to check the benefits for the consumer, the benefits of providing the data to firms, and whether it is fine to provide the data to the firms. In this way, consumers can protect privacy. However, to create the digital twin, our personal data will be collected and surveilled. Even if our data could be useful in a digital twin, if it contains personal information collected from individuals, it might endanger our freedom of thought. In 2017, Google announced that it would redevelop Toronto, Canada as a smart city, but on May 7, 2020, they announced the cancellation of the project due to unstable economic conditions and worsening profitability caused by the real estate market. The reason behind the cancellation of the project is not only the economic reasons mentioned above but also the lack of understanding of the local residents regarding the acquisition and use of personal information, which led to a lawsuit by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association ( If it is practical to control our information in the digital twin scheme without being surveilled, it will be a useful idea in privacy areas as well, otherwise, we need to think about decentralized architectures to protect our privacy.

2.2 Decentralized architecture

2.2.1 MesInfos?

We should think about schemes designed to allow individuals to control their information and decide who they will share their information with. The project called “MesInfos” was introduced in 2012 in France ( The purpose of this project was to return the control right of management, use, or sharing of personal data held by public institutions and firms to individuals. MesInfos? is run by a private consortium led by the non-profit organization Fing. In this scheme, a copy of the data is transferred to the consumer's personal cloud. Consumers download third-party applications on their personal cloud and grant access to their data if it is necessary when they are using the applications. Instead of handing over their data to firms or data users, firms or data users can refer to only the necessary data through the API (Application Programming Interface) on the consumer's private cloud.

2.2.2 Amsterdam Digital Register

Amsterdam Digital Register is a project to use DECODE to make the process of citizens registering with the city and providing and accessing data secure and easy ( This project aims to build a system that allows citizens to store their personal data in the DECODE wallet, and to share only the minimum information necessary to protect their privacy when registering. The DECODE technology will allow citizens to remove unnecessary personal information registration, sharing, etc., and will allow the city to check the status of each property without obtaining unnecessary personal information.

2.2.3 Analysis

We need to create a mechanism in which the individual holds the right to maintain our privacy, and these schemes allow us to control our information, and we do not need to provide unnecessary personal information to third parties. These systems promise to protect people's privacy and give individuals ownership of their data. I believe that we can create new technologies in which individuals control what purpose data is used for by utilizing these schemes. Whether it is virtual or real, it is important to create our own personal server to achieve goals to protect our personal data.

3. Conclusion

I believe that we should restructure the technology scheme to allow individuals to control their personal data and protect privacy, and we can achieve this goal by creating our own personal server whether it is virtual or real.

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r3 - 14 Jan 2022 - 05:05:22 - MayaWakamatsu
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