The battle for control of data could be just starting

Companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon happily take our data in exchange for convenience, lower prices or free services, but individuals and businesses are beginning to understand the value of controlling their data instead of simply handing it over to the world’s largest technology companies. The battle to regain control over that data could be starting in earnest.

I saw a couple of examples of this in stories I wrote this past week. For starters, the GDPR data protection rules are coming to the EU next spring, and when they do, they are going to begin putting control of data into the hands of individual EU citizens.

Segment is a company helping businesses track the customer journey across the myriad of touch points, pulling the information out of data silos and putting it in a single customer record. If GDPR is about putting EU citizens in control of their data, that means if you want them to stop collecting that data, they have to do it. If you want them to erase your data as though it never existed, they have to do that too. Segment announced a product this week to help companies comply with those requests.

That helps solve one piece of the puzzle, but what about if the business doesn’t want to share their customer data with Amazon, Facebook or Google? In another example this week, we saw how this could work when Roxy, a company building customized voice-enabled devices for business landed $2.2 million in seed money.

One of the reasons that co-founder and CEO Cam Urban found customers want a customized device instead of one off the shelf from one of the big vendors, is that these businesses don’t want to give their customer information to Google or Amazon. They want to keep those interactions between them and the customer, while continuing to own that customer relationship. If they were to use an Amazon Echo or Google Home instead of the Roxy device, not only would they not get a device customized for their business, they would lose control of those interactions.

Both of these examples show that not everyone wants to simply give their data to the largest tech companies. GDPR could just be the beginning when it comes to stricter control over individual data as other countries outside of the EU begin to create similar laws to put data in control of the individual instead of the company and companies like Segment build tools to help them comply with these regulations.

As for businesses, they may want to start looking for alternatives that don’t involve sharing the data with the biggest companies for the sake of convenience, and there could be a big opportunity for companies like Roxy that can give that to them.