Microsoft Research is testing “Bali,” a way for users manage “all data collected about them”

Laurent Giret

Data privacy was a quite big topic last year with the GRPD EU law coming into effect, various Facebook-related scandals, and more. Just last month, Microsoft also had to apologize after it was discovered the different “Activity History” setting in Windows 10 didn’t really do what users were expecting.

There will probably still be consumers who won’t completely trust Microsoft because of Windows 10 and the company’s advertising business, but the Redmond giant is apparently ready to show a bigger commitment to privacy. Indeed, Microsoft Research has reportedly started to test a new “personal data bank” allowing users to see all data collected about them on the Internet (via ZDNet).

The project is codenamed “Bali” and it already has a dedicated website. However, it’s apparently in private testing as you need to request a code to get access to it. Here’s how Microsoft Research described the project on the website:

With Project Bali, we propose a new personal data bank which puts users in control of all data collected about them. Data is a product created and owned by a user, and therefore belongs to them. The bank will enable users to store all data (raw and inferred) generated by them. It will allow the user to visualize, manage, control, share and monetize the data.

According to this same “About” page, this is still early days for Project Bali, with Microsoft Research currently being “focused on helping the user aggregate personal data from various websites and have an ability to view the data.” Anyway, it’s still interesting to see Microsoft building such a tool considering that the company has its own online advertising platform with Bing Ads. However, unlike Google and Facebook, Microsoft has a lot of different revenue sources as of today and online advertising only represents a small fraction of that.