UK academics are working with the IT industry to stem the deluge of personal data on the internet.
Through a £3.6m project called Encore (Ensuring Consent and Revocation), security experts are trying to solve problems caused by the uncontrolled flow of personal data.
Researchers from HP's Systems Security Lab in Bristol are the project leaders of the Encore Team. The rest come from WMG at the University of Warwick, QinetiQ, HW Communications, Oxford University's Ethox Centre legal department, and regulation and business experts from the London School of Economics (LSE).
Encore is jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board. It will help businesses and government adopt scalable, cost-effective and robust consent and revocation methods, for controlling the use, storing, locating and sharing of personal data.
At present, people have no way of controlling how their personal information is used. Nor can people ensure data is deleted, when requested, from databases.
Often such details are handed to third parties, making the control of personal data even harder. Millions of people shop online every day and data leakage and identity fraud are growing concerns.
The Encore participants say the response should be to develop technology as easy to use as turning a tap on or off.
Professor Sadie Creese, head of WMG's e-Security Team, said: "There are plenty of occasions when we want to be able to share our information but we need more control over the process. If we turn the tap on we need to know our data is only flowing where we want it to. If we turn the tap off, there must be no leaks."
Encore project director Pete Bramhall, of HP Labs, said, "With leading researchers the Encore project has a strong industrial team that will deliver leading-edge, privacy-enhancing technology and services to private and public-sector organisations."
Sadie Creese will head up the team developing the technology to enable more control over data. Experts at Oxford University and the London School of Economics (LSE) will tackle user requirements, the legal framework and regulation.
The Encore project will run for the next three-and-a-half years.