Users are already choosing Facebook as a central ID across websites (never mind that Facebook is a terrible steward of your data). That could easily become not just an ID but a personal information vault that Facebook also sells -- without paying you or even worrying about what you want shared. There's also of course OpenID. Many of the pieces are in place, just scattered.
The telecom carriers are interested in such a role as well, though they've focused mainly on back-end services to enable secured digital identities. They keep looking for ways to get into new markets and have dallied with payment systems, app stores, and other services for years, though I wouldn't trust any of them to be an honest broker.
As you can tell, I don't see the personal privacy issue the same way the advocacy groups do. The information is out there and will stay out there -- the very act of digitization means the data is easily shared, manipulated, and used. That genie can't return to the bottle as the privacy groups demand.
Instead, I see the issue as a business proposition. If the data has value -- and we know it does -- its creators (you and me) should be paid for it. And if we take over the selling of our data, all those companies using it now have to respect us and abide by our standards. Currently, we're a free resource to mine whether we like it or not; we're the Indians trading trinkets to the Dutch for Manhattan. That didn't work out well for the Indians, did it?
I'm all for bartering personal information for valuable services -- heck, that's how InfoWorld makes the money to pay me and the rest of the team -- but too much of that "value" proffered has no value. As users opened up the corporate technology tool chest with BYOD, they too will open up the business of making money from their own data. The companies buying it will also be more likely to safeguard it, because we won't sell to those that don't; if they let it get loose through sloppiness, they essentially end up subsidizing their competitors. The free market can be our friend in protecting our personal information.
To help that day come sooner, assess the sites you've signed up for and unsubscribe from those whose value is tiny. Remember, they're making hundreds of dollars or more a year from your information. If you're not getting that much value back, cut them off. That way, you use economic pressure to steer the market in a better direction. It worked with the major banks' attempts to gouge debit card fees from all of us to recoup the losses they created. It can work again.
This article, "The next consumerization revolution: Your personal data," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.