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MyData – management of personal data in the focus of data economy

Publication date 31.8.2020 8.20
Senior Specialist Lotta Engdahl (Photo: MINTC)

Our digital footprint is growing rapidly. We often find it difficult to understand what information about us has been stored in the systems, digital services and platforms of different organisations. It is also challenging to perceive and control how the data about us is being used.

The MyData model seeks to provide people with access and control to their own data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides a good basis for this, but the systems complying with the GDPR often lack easy-to-use tools for people to access and transfer their data from one system to another and between different services.

In the data economy sector, we want to bring people into the focus and promote the accessibility of data. The growth potential and business opportunities of the data economy are significant, but the requirement for making good use of the data and creating human-centred applications is smooth and responsible flow of data.

Today, problems are often caused by the incompatibility of data between different systems, concentration of information on individual actors, lack of access to data and the limited ability of individuals to manage their data.

The management of personal data and the transparency of information at the practical level are now more important than ever before. More and more information, including personal data, will be needed to prevent such threats as the current coronavirus epidemic. That is why the need to understand the principles of information sharing and user rights will also grow.

Together with MyData Global, we have published an updated version of the MyData report, which presents various possibilities for implementing the model. The report examines how personal data can be shared in interoperable, human-centred ecosystems. The implementation of the MyData model requires data portability in practice and trusted personal data intermediaries or so-called MyData operators.  

The updated report will also open up the role of MyData in EU decision making and future initiatives at EU level. Finland has already contributed to the human-oriented and sustainable utilisation of the data economy both in Europe and globally, and the work is well reflected in the European Commission’s data strategy of 19 February 2020, which corresponds to Finland’s objectives. MyData is one way to achieve these goals.

Already since 2014, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has encouraged businesses, administrations and individuals to think about the possibilities and impacts the personal data model might have. The aim is to include human-centred data management as the cross-cutting policy in all sectors.

The current Government Programme outlines the need to assess different ways to better safeguard people’s rights to manage their own data according to the MyData principle. The working group on the digital measures for the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis also recognised the need to provide people with better opportunities to increase the availability and use of their own data held by the authorities. This would call for the removal of the legislative barriers and extension of the MyData experiments.

Cross-cutting principle of the data management model must be MyData

In building an EU-wide data economy, it is important to promote the reliable internal market for data and the free movement of data in accordance with the requirements for the protection of personal data. To this end, it is important to create a data management model in which the MyData principle plays an important role.

There are already concrete examples of the requirements specifications by, for example, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. In addition, in many industrial sectors there are good examples of data sharing and tools that can, for instance, improve interoperability between application interfaces and services.

The work to outline the data management model has already begun in the Commission. The first step was to map an evaluation-based survey. Sometime in the autumn 2020, a proposal on the main features of the model will be presented. Achieving the objectives of the European data policy depends on the ability to create models, practices and infrastructures that make seamless and secure movement of information possible.

Indeed, data should be transferable and available across borders between states, sectors and disciplines with MyData as the cross-cutting principle.

Lotta Engdahl
The author works as Senior Specialist in the Data Business Unit at the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Report: MyData – an introduction to human-centric use of personal data (3rd, revised edition)

Data economy implementation and monitoring group

Digital measures in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis - working group

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