What is Microsoft’s “Project Bali”?

Data security and privacy protections continues to be a major topic of discussion, these days, thanks to more of our lives moving to an online space.  As we continue to grow in line with technology—and it becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives—the need to protect our information grows as well. 

Of course, one major obstacle to developing such security is that the internet is still relatively new to humanity, particularly in the highly invasive and loosely regulated form we see it in currently.  More importantly, consumers know very little about the internet and how it works, and developers are perfectly happy to keep it that way. Corporations would like that, too, because they use the internet to collect information about us—in good and bad ways—in order to improve the way they can market their businesses and deliver services to us. 

But one thing that many users do not appreciate is how much information is collected about us, especially when we would prefer they don’t.  And there is nothing we can do about it.

Until now.  

Apparently, the Microsoft Research team has been working on a project that is able to delete all of your connection data and account information.  The development—known as “Project Bali”—is still in private beta and it seems to entail a personal data bank for users.  

Project Bali aims to do a few things that make it easier for you to control your personal data. First, it aggregates all of your personal data from across every website on the web where it may be stored.  You will be able to fetch your data from various websites, sure, but it is not yet clear which websites are supported by the service.  Once you retrieve this data, you can store it inside your own data bank (aka Project Bali). 

This, of course, is just a preliminary understanding. Microsoft says they want to be able to give users more control over their data in the future. This control will allow users to choose how they share it and even how it can be monetized. 

It is that final aspect that is the biggest surprise of this project, as it is not clear, exactly, how Microsoft plans to let users monetize their own personal data, particularly when we consider all of the recent controversy surrounding the way companies use personal data to make money for their companies through advertising.