MyData – strong support from Finland

A white paper – MyData – A Nordic Model for human-centered personal data management and processing – has been published presenting a framework for management and processing of personal data that is based on individual empowerment whilst opening new opportunities for business services. The authors: Antti Poikola, Kai Kuikkaniemi and Harri Honko state the following principles for MyData:

  1. Human centric control and privacy: Individu­als are empowered actors, not passive targets, in the management of their personal lives both online and offline – they have the right and practical means to manage their data and privacy.
  2. Usable data: It is essential that personal data is technically easy to access and use – it is ac­cessible in machine readable open formats via secure, standardized APIs (Application Pro­gramming Interfaces). MyData is a way to con­vert data from closed silos into an important, reusable resource. It can be used to create new services which help individuals to manage their lives. The providers of these services can create new business models and economic growth to the society.
  3. Open business environment: Shared MyData infrastructure enables decentralized manage­ment of personal data, improves interoperabil­ity, makes it easier for companies to comply with tightening data protection regulations, and allows individuals to change service providers without proprietary data lock-ins.

DEF made this subject the main topic of its 2013 conference and yearbook (The value of Personal Data). For example see Chapter 16 – A Structured Discussion – in this volume. Work is ongoing on this by e.g. Ctrl-Shift (see our Blog Roll), Synergetics and others. It is great to see this strengthened and so well explained in this white paper. A “must read” for all working on the subject.

The post-digital social contract part 3 of 3

Restore balance and reclaim personal data

  1. The major actors – digital corporations and governments – need a haystack to find a needle.[i] They use a three step process to do this: (1) Create and adapt models with inference engine and rules; (2) Apply the model to data and match individuals to groups; (3) Take actions based on the matching, observe the results and tune the model.[ii] The more data, the better the model.
  2. The old school design approach to controlling this surveillance is to ask questions like: What are the rules? What are the consent points? Where are consents held? What are the defaults (opt-in or opt-out)? What are the obligations to the individual? How are those obligations met and monitored? How are obligations passed between actors? Can we regulate personal data markets? Should controls be centralized or distributed? What are the incentives? How do we resource enforcement?
  3. This old school design will not work.   Continue reading

Established Societal Norms

I read the paper of the Information Accountability Foundation to which Malcolm Crompton referred in his blog below on Digital Ethics of 8 Feb. It is indeed a laudable initiative, but I am a bit worried that it is just another attempt of trying to establish control on our world, its values and compliance to it. And I am afraid the world is too complex to try and control its state.

It is a “classical” approach with as a point of departure: “Established Societal Norms”, but it fails to address two basic questions:

  1. Is there a universal ethics basis. This point is discussed also in the book of Floridi (see the blog below on Informational Ethics of 17 Feb). If the answer is positive, the basis lies certainly must deeper and is much smaller than what is called “established societal norms” in the paper, which are recognised as different in different cultures.
  2. How do “established societal norms” differ between cultures and how do they change over time (incl. under influence of contacts between different cultures). A direct result of accepting dependence on time (which is rather undeniable; just compare norms in western Europe in the middle ages and now), is that it is highly dangerous to try to implement them at any specific moment through static algorithms that could become the static “code” of the future.

Established societal norms Continue reading

Digital Enlightenment Forum – Discuss our digital future


The spirit of the 18th Century Enlightenment movement gives our non-profit association Digital Enlightenment Forum (DEF) the drive and inspiration to address the challenges for man and society that arise from the digital revolution that comes over us. Similar principles as were central to the debate in the Enlightenment period should again be at the basis of developing the potential that digital technology promises for the 21st century:

  • sharing of information and knowledge
  • respect for the freedom of choice of the citizen as a prerequisite for a flourishing and creative relation between humans and technology and for society as a whole
  • scientific and intellectual inquiry and open debate in service to all.

Since the establishment of DEF in 2011 we have seen a rapid development shifting the debate from individuals using new and convenient technology to the effects on these individuals and society of this technology. It is visible in the series of three DEF Yearbooks since 2012. Where the first focused on technology infrastructure and its governance, the second brought up a general discussion on personal data management in a time that data are collected practically unlimited. The latter publication was at the height of the debate on the Snowden revelations. Our Forum 2013 and the latest Yearbook took up the debate on Social Networks and Social Machines, Surveillance and Empowerment. The position of the citizen in the digital world will be the focus of our Forum 2015.

This Blog wants to strengthen the debate Continue reading