Kuva: Miikka Pirinen

Published March 5, 2018

No effort spared to achieve a fair data economy

My photographs slip onto social media channels almost unnoticed by me. I lose my grip on them immediately. Could such a situation be prevented? Is a fair, human-centred data economy possible?
Project Director, Sitra
Jaana Sinipuro is an experienced ICT enthusiast, who leads Sitra’s Digital Health HUB focus area.

If only I could be the movie star of my own life! Or even just look like a movie star. An image editing service that has spread on social media offers me a solution. Almost unnoticed, I have given up my right to my own private life, or at least parts of it are revealed by personal information to some unknown company that markets fun tests on Facebook. The growth of platform companies is based on data and its ownership.

Data has become the world’s most valuable resource. The databases of various online services, the customer systems of companies and registers kept by public administrations contain huge amounts of data.

The individual has given up rights to data.

Should I, the consumer, also get my share of the value of data? How could this happen? Can the data economy ever be fair?
The My Data way of thinking asserts the rights of the individual. A central factor in it is that data is technically easy to access and the individual can control how it is used and distributed further.

Can the My Data way of thinking – together with a new co-developed platform for information exchange and a personal IHAN® account system (similar to the IBAN system used by banks) – create a completely new model for the data economy: a sustainable and fair data economy? Can Finland make use of a vibrant start-up ecosystem and its skills and knowledge to create, as a forerunner, a new operating environment that makes use of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation?

Can Moominvalley challenge Silicon Valley?

The operating environment related to personal data is changing in many ways, but there is still no shared concept or compatible platform for the formation of services that follow the General Data Protection Regulation.

Sitra wants to bring all interested parties together. We are launching a new project that will run until 2021. Its goal is to create an EU-level concept and rules for exchanging information with people as the starting point. We want to set shared EU-level principles and a management model for human-centred data management. In addition to conceptualising, we are creating technical examples in several fields, alongside the information exchange platform, that are all mutually compatible and managed by individuals.

The platform economy and artificial intelligence are among the government’s key projects. Last year a road map for a digital platform economy was published as a co-operative effort between Tekes, the government and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. The road map recommended launching the development of the public sector’s My Data platform, and to initially mapping out Finnish projects.

“After five minutes the anarchist in my heart shouted.”

If Finland wishes to be a trailblazer, it is not enough to launch development. We need to agree on a common goal, and to methodically complete the work, to serve as a vanguard in a fair and sustainable data economy. A public-sector platform is not sufficient; a platform also needs to be scaled for business activities and must be under the control of the individuals themselves.

At Sitra we have been preparing our project for nearly a year, together with numerous established experts. I thought for a moment when I was asked if I wanted to join the project as the project director. We have Moominvalley, but nothing that can be compared with Silicon Valley. “This project cannot succeed,” I thought quickly. I took a deep breath. After five minutes the anarchist in my heart shouted: “Yes it can! It’s always worth a try!”

I am sufficiently open-minded to work on behalf of getting the data collected by platform companies recycled and under the control of people.

We believe that when we, the citizens, start working together with public players and responsible, innovative companies the paradigm of the platform economy can be changed. The best things come from crazy ideas and perseverance. However, to carry out this idea we need to have everyone involved. In the spirit of Finland 100 it is good to keep moving forward #together!


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