Nikolaos Laoutaris, Costas Iordanou
What if instead of having to implement controversial user tracking techniques, Internet advertising & marketing companies asked explicitly to be granted access to user data by name and category, such as Alice→Mobility→05-11-2020? The technology for implementing this already exists, and is none other than the Information Centric Networks (ICN), developed for over a decade in the framework of Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiatives. Beyond named access to personal data, ICN’s in-network storage capability can be used as a substrate for retrieving aggregated, anonymized data, or even for executing complex analytics within the network, with no personal data leaking outside. In this opinion article we discuss how ICNs combined with trusted execution environments and digital watermarking, can be combined to build a personal data overlay inter-network in which users will be able to control who gets access to their personal data, know where each copy of said data is, negotiate payments in exchange for data, and even claim ownership, and establish accountability for data leakages due to malfunctions or malice. Of course, coming up with concrete designs about how to achieve all the above will require a huge effort from a dedicated community willing to change how personal data are handled on the Internet. Our hope is that this opinion article can plant some initial seeds towards this direction.