Microsoft is developing 'Bali', which aims to give users greater control over their data

The new research project by Microsoft aims to tackle the issue of people having a lack of access to data that belongs to them

Microsoft is working on a new project geared towards giving users greater control of the private data collected about them.

Project 'Bali' seems to be in a private testing phase as of now and was discovered by Twitter user 'Longhorn' (@never_released) who said that the project "can delete all your connection and account information".

The project web page, now seemingly taken down as it won't load, originally granted access to users with a code and those without a code could request one.

Once accessed, the 'about' page of the project site described the project as a "new personal data bank which puts users in control of all data collected about them... The bank will enable users to store all data (raw and inferred) generated by them. It will allow the user to visualise, manage, control, share and monetise the data."

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The project will focus its efforts on the concept of inverse privacy discussed in a 2014 research paper authored by Yuri Gurevich, Efim Hudis and Jeannette Wing, who all worked for Microsoft Research at that time.

Inverse privacy refers to the data that others have about you that you don't own yourself. Private information refers to information about you that only you own and have access to and the goal of the project is to reduce inversely private information to a minimum.

Many different parties and bodies hold inversely private information about us, from employers to toll road operators, our information is out there but is unlikely to ever be seen by us.

"Due to progress in technology, institutions have become much better than you in recording data," the paper reads. "As a result, shared data decays into inversely private. More inversely private information is produced when institutions analyse your private data.

"Your inversely private information, whether collected or derived, allows institutions to serve you better. But access to that information--especially if it were presented to you in a convenient form--would do you much good. It would allow you to correct possible errors in the data, to have a better idea of your health status and your credit rating, and to identify ways to improve your productivity and quality of life."

The extent of the powers the tool would afford users is not yet known. According to the site, the Bali project is in the "initial stage" of development and is believed that developers are currently working on methods to help users gather data from various websites and view the data only, queries about any alterations to stored data may have to go down legal channels.

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It makes sense for Microsoft to dabble in the privacy protection sphere, in the post-GDPR, post-Cambridge Analytica world in which we reside, people are becoming more conscious of their digital data and how its used by large organisations. A tool to help users manage or just have a greater awareness of their digital identity is likely to be met with gusto.

IT Pro has approached Microsoft for comment and more details, this article will be updated if and when we receive more.

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