The HAT Data Gateway and Evolution of the Market for Personal Data


Project Lead

Professor Irene Ng, supported by Dr Philip Davies

The Value and Market Evolution of Person-controlled Personal Data (PPD) on the HAT platform 

HATs have the capability of becoming the “user account” of a new generation of apps; an account with data to which the individual has rights, so that they are in control of the data that apps draw from, no matter where it was created. HATs effectively decentralise personal data storage, allowing for data exchange and private AI, so that its usage, by people, organisations and governments, can be improved across the economy. HAT APIs take the form of fine-grained data (calendar events and time, Spotify listens, Fitbit activities, Facebook posts) and can be recombined and bundled for exchange with Internet applications of all kinds. 

From a microeconomic design perspective, HAT creates a new boundary of transaction between the person and a firm (cf. Baldwin, 2008). Instead of just one transaction at an application level, a secondary transaction at the personal data storage and exchange level enables a new capability to be created for more data insights and signals to be generated before passing it back to the firm, if the individual so wishes.

As the HAT platform scales, there is an opportunity to obtain an empirical understanding of personal data exchanges and how the market evolves, especially in terms of what data is exchanged and how often. HAT Data Exchange (HATDeX), as the technology provider of HATs and through which all HAT metadata APIs are lodged, is providing access to the data exchange as they are interested to establish a ‘Bloomberg-style’ dashboard of data exchanges (much like stock exchange trades) within the HAT ecosystem. This would enable an understanding of the value of PPD to HAT owners, organisations and indeed, society, to the level of data granularity that has never been possible. It also enables the study of “matching” – economic models focusing on who does what and who gets what, particularly when scarcity and allocation are issues (Niederle, Roth and Sönmez, 2007).

Combining Professor Irene Ng’s Turing Fellowship project and Dr Phil Davies’ Data Gateway project sponsored by the DROPS grant, this project aims to:

(1) Create a taxonomic catalogue of PPD value based on the data transactions between HAT owners and apps to contribute to the understanding of its use, and

(2) Study the longitudinal evolution of the PPD market in terms of how the HAT platform achieves ‘matching’ – creating thickness, reducing congestion and making the market safe (cf. Niederle er al., 2007).

The output of this research will be published as a resource for future understanding of the economic, personal and societal value of personal data and its market.