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Prof. Mindaugas Kiskis



The latest Facebook debacle will go away soon and it will be back to business as usual. I am a privacy and data protection professor and attorney. I have been in this field from late nineties. I have seen this many times up close.

There is no business today that does not grab your data. They all profit from it. Some just a bit. Some handsomely. Some entirely depend on it. A lot of research and estimates show that business of our data is worth billions. I would argue hundreds of billions of value. Value, dependent on our data.

This is not going to change through new regulation. Companies like Facebook will just apologize and carry on. Regulation may make things more complex, but will not change them fundamentally. We will keep on sharing data and businesses will keep profiting from it. It is human nature. And who wants some bureaucrats telling what or how we shall deal with our data? There is a whole field of research on this phenomenon called the “privacy paradox”.

If we cannot change this, maybe there is a way for us to tap into the value of our data? Researchers and entrepreneurs have been looking for ways to do this since early 2000. Most look for ways to allow you sell your data directly. Early trailblazers tried selling own data on EBay. More recent attempts offer paid non-anonymous surveys, data repositories allowing access for businesses, ways to open up your social media accounts, data wallets, data exchanges, you name it.

These attempts are limited in success and create problems of their own. Bits and pieces of our data are not worth very much. And if I am paid pennies, why should I bother spending hours gathering my data and submitting it to someone? Current data sales platforms don’t offer competitive pricing, and create another layer of obscurity between us, the data subjects, and data businesses. Not to speak that any intermediary layers in data transfers involve major security risks. To get any significant value from data, huge data sets, many buyers and market pricing are needed, but are not offered by current data sales platforms.

I am not saying that data sales and transfers are not viable in principle. They are flourishing behind our backs! They only stall, when us, the data subjects, are directly and lawfully involved. They work well enough when we are not, but then we are left out empty-handed, while data businesses profit. Just ask any data broker or browse the Darkweb for the proof! Obviously, such data dealing does not make us safe, happy or richer.

We need different approach. We need a way to involve the data subjects, without complicating it. Hypertext revolutionized data management. Why not personal data?

Instead of selling data, we need shortcuts to data. Shortcut to data is a consent. In other words, we need a way to grant consents for data processing and a way to manage such consents. Consent is also a shortcut into data value.

There are more than enough efficient ways to collect and process our data. We do not need to fix them, we just need to authorize them with a consent in exchange for part of the value. This is the approach that we are taking with the Consent Token project (

Consent Token is simple. You grant consent by obtaining Consent Token. The Consent Token is your consent. You hold it, you grant consent. You sell it, you cancel consent. Consent Token records all grants, cancellations (sales) and user id on the blockchain.

To get your consent businesses have to buy the Consent Token on a free market, while you get it free. Consent Token incentivizes you to participate. You hold, you earn interest. You sell some tokens, you earn. That easy. Businesses will be attracted to buy the Consent Tokens simply because there are no efficient alternatives.

Consent Token does not deal with data itself. Our innovation is in consent management and value sharing with the consenter. We won’t change the ways that the data industries deal with your data, but we allow them to operate under your consent in exchange for some part of the value that they are creating.


The author Mindaugas Kiskis is the cofounder @ConsenToken, Professor of Law & Management @Mykolas Romeris University, Partner @FORT Legal, a leading Baltic law firm, tech geek & entrepreneur, former Fulbright Scholar @Arizona State and Markle Fellow @Oxford.

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