Guardians of the data take on tech giants

Ever since the dawn of the internet, we have traded our personal data in return for free services from the tech giants. Now many startups think it’s time we took control of our own data and even started making money from it.

Julian Ranger, founder of has found himself as the champion for citizen data privacy and control through his app  Founded with £500,000 of his own money, app enables people “to build a private, highly secure, complete searchable library of your data” Ranger says.

“The current dialogue is about sharing less data, but that’s worrying. We’re not going to get personalised medicine unless we share more data,” he says.

Companies then pay for a digital certificate to gain access to your data with your permission, explains Mr Ranger. has more than 100,000 users so far and recently signed an agreement with the UK’s National Health Service to allow health data within the app.

“We’re industrialising the collection, storage and encryption of all your data on your device. We’re changing the world,” he says. With your data never leaves your phone, it’s only even the information it contains and only ever with your permission.

Hub of All Things

Another pioneer for our right to our data is Irene Ng, founder of Hub of All Things (HAT) and a professor of marketing and service systems at Warwick University. She says, “Facebook says you own your data, but that’s like saying you own your body when you’re a slave.”

HAT, a collaboration between seven British universities, has created a cloud-based “microserver”, that acts like a mini fortress for all your personal data. With HAT, you can decide how to “spend” your data because you own the database.

Ms Ng explains, “we really believe in the data economy, we want more data sharing, but you should have legal rights to share your data with whoever you want in the way you want.”

Ms Ng is convinced the ambitious scheme has the potential to go global, despite facing huge challenges around public understanding.


The real challenge for all these services aiming to give citizens control over their data is that developers need strong incentives to build apps on their platforms and we need strong persuasion that it’s worth participating.