Who's using your data? New Web technology lets you track how your private data is used online

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By now, most people feel comfortable conducting financial transactions on the Web. The cryptographic schemes that protect online banking and credit card purchases have proven their reliability over decades.

As more of our data moves online, a more pressing concern may be its inadvertent misuse by people authorized to access it. Every month seems to bring another story of private information accidentally leaked by governmental agencies or vendors of digital products or services.

At the same time, tighter restrictions on access could undermine the whole point of sharing data. Coordination across agencies and providers could be the key to quality medical care; you may want your family to be able to share the pictures you post on a social-networking site.

Researchers in CSAIL's Decentralized Information Group (DIG) believe the solution may be transparency rather than obscurity. To that end, they’re developing a protocol they call “HTTP with Accountability,” or HTTPA, which will automatically monitor the transmission of private data and allow the data owner to examine how it’s being used.

Read more at MIT News about the research, which is being overseen by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and conducted by graduate student Oshani Seneviratne and research scientist Lalana Kagal (above): http://bit.ly/1pT27So