Interested in faster and safer digital interactions? You can develop your own API to store, handle and share your personal data.

Exploit Your Personal Data With Your Own API

Every citizen of the European Union (EU) is the owner of their own personal data. It's granted by the law.

Related: How to Comply With EU Cookie Law in Django Projects

Most of us are concerned with the protection of our data. We are worried about websites and apps, and how large corporations handle our information. We are worried that our bank account or social security number might be shared with the wrong people.

But many don't realize that owning our personal data means we can also exploit it as we please.

How can you control the way your personal data is handled and shared? To begin with, you would need to store your information. Then, you would need to develop a tool that websites and apps could use to get the data.

Long story short: you can develop your own API to store, handle and share your personal data.

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of methods of communication that makes it easier for websites and apps to share and collect information from other websites and apps.

Also read: 3 Awesome Machine Learning APIs For Your Business

What types of personal data should your API control? Well, it could be anything. But there are some pieces of information that are more valuable and confidential than others.

Confidential data

Confidential data is your most important information. It's what defines you as an individual.

Your confidential data includes your birth details, your health records, and any information about yourself that can be thought of as sensitive. If your confidential data falls into the wrong hands, it could become very dangerous.

There are very severe regulations that safeguard confidential data to prevent false impersonations.

When data exchange is controlled by third-party APIs, as it happens with online banking platforms, the authorization and access processes are so tightly controlled that it becomes exhausting. Isn't it annoying to be forced to confirm your identity over and over?

How can this friction problem be solved? Some platforms like Trunomi offer a data management alternative. They hold your information and share it on your behalf. Their slogan is "unlock the power of customer data using consent and data rights".

But can you really trust them? Do you really need an external data management system? Can't you handle your own data?

Your personal API could actively select the information that needs to be shared when needed. This would make the process of data exchange easier, faster, and safer.


Financial data

Just as your confidential data, your financial data is also extremely valuable, but not as sensitive.

Your financial information consists of your banking records and transactions, your creditworthiness and your debt history. You most likely need financial management tools to help you visualize and keep track of your data in a comfortable way. But do you know who has access to your financial information?

The problem with financial data is that many companies want it - but not for any wrong reasons. They use your data to do market analysis. They can study your transactions and offer products and services according to your records.

Whether you want companies to have access to your financial records or not is up to you. You can use tools such as Xero, an accounting software for individuals and small businesses. However, remember that sharing your financial information could result in spam by third-party companies.

Controlling how you handle and expose your financial data by developing your personal API could be the answer.


Related: The Smart Way to Monetize Your API


Tactile data

Tactile data is different from your confidential and financial information. Tactile data is every piece of information that's created around your life, both physical and virtual.

The tactile data that you create on a daily basis includes:

  • Your browsing history, meaning everything you do online.
  • Your GPS movements, tracked by your smartphone and social media posts.
  • Your web and mobile app behavior, including every piece of information like how many calories you burn, your daily activities and the photos you share.
  • Your physical movements and transactions, tracked by the sensors you activate when using your credit card.

Tactile data involves everything that can keep a record of where you've been, what you've done and why you were there or did that. You most likely find little to no value in tactile data, but many companies do.

Tactile data is usually disregarded by users with arguments like "why would anyone care about that?"

For starters, many companies want your tactile data to improve their user experience. If they have a better understanding of you as an individual, they are able to deliver better products and services. And instead of asking for that information with time-consuming questionnaires that most users avoid, they take it directly from the websites, apps and other services you use.

But is there a way for you to access all of your tactile data - and share only what you want?

Some of your tactile information is available for you to download. For example, you can download your own GPS records with the Garmin Connect API.

Other types of information are there for you to get, but it might be hard for you to keep track of all of it. Your browsing history and your app interactions can be obtained, but you usually need to do it one at a time.

For most of your tactile information there aren't enough regulations, which means companies won't allow you to get your own data. This means that for the time being tactile information won’t be a part of your personal API.


Also read: Building a Web App: How Much Should You Pay?



From what we've discusses of the 3 types of personal information, there's a clear question that must be answered: is a personal data API worth it if it doesn't include tactile data?

It depends. If you want full control over your confidential and financial data then, by all means, you should develop your personal API with all of your available data.

However, for most of us, the answer is not…yet. As technology evolves, the laws and regulations will adapt, and sooner than later we'll be able to get full access to all of our personal information. When that day comes, having a personal data API to store and share information will not only be adviced: it will be essential.

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