2023 was a dynamic year filled with regulatory milestones, technical innovation, and novel challenges. MyData Global spent the year investing in its capacity to serve the community and deliver impact. We’re excited about what’s to come.
A year on the move
2023 was a dynamic year, in which the landscape and infrastructure for managing personal data continued to shift and evolve. Several regulatory frameworks broke new ground, including the adoption of Brazil’s General Data Empowerment Law, a proliferation of data protection legislation in US states, the consolidation of the UK’s national data protection framework including regulations for data holders, and the deadline for EU member states to implement the Data Governance Act. Simultaneously, policymakers around the world demonstrated increased support for responsible data-sharing solutions, as evidenced by Japan’s Data Free Flow with Trust initiative, and broad international support for supporting the development of digital public infrastructure and the digital transformation of the public sector.
Technical communities and networks like the Open Wallet Foundation and OpenID Foundation, Trust over IP, and the W3C Solid community group have meanwhile continued to break ground, and the MyData community member JLINC was granted a patent for their protocol enabling human-readable data control and provenance. Developments around data spaces have gathered speed, with several ongoing projects and pilots ongoing in Europe and beyond. Meanwhile, Big Tech has continued to innovate in the face of unprecedented national fines and increasing liability for gatekeepers in the EU, launching corporate data-sharing initiatives and consolidating wallets with loyalty programs.
All this dynamic change is taking place against the backdrop of radical advances in generative AI and persistent misuse of personal data by prominent platforms like Dropbox and Zoom. It’s hard to avoid the observation that the more things change…
Community at the core
The MyData community is responding to these dynamic changes in kind, pivoting business models and advocacy strategies to continue advancing the human-centric paradigm. They are taking advantage of novel resources like online courses on EU data economy to keep up to speed with changing regulations, and contributing to new industry associations and lobbying efforts like the CODE in the UK. There has also been a lively debate about what role MyData Global should play in representing and nurturing a nascent industry of human-centric data intermediaries, and conversations with and between MyData members old and new show that no one is asleep at the wheel. The community that kicked off in 2016 to advance MyData’s human-centric vision remains dedicated, adaptive, and poised to grow and shape the emerging data future.
The MyData 2023 conference in May was a fantastic opportunity to see this in action, as over 500 people from 33 countries gathered in Helsinki, Finland to share insights, ideas, and opportunities for a better data future. The conference was also an opportunity to highlight the groundbreaking work being done by MyData operators providing human-centric infrastructure for personal data sharing around the world, and innovative datausing services that received the MyData Award 2023 in April. We left Helsinki in June buzzing with the community’s ideas, energy, and demands for a better future.
Fit for purpose
The staff and leadership have also used 2023 to invest in MyData Global’s capacity as an international non-profit and as a membership association. Starting with the January hires of new staff and an executive director to lead MyData’s levelling-up project, 2023 has been about taking steps to ensure our contribution and impact in these dynamic times. Together with the membership, we have spent months developing and refining a 3-year strategy that will focus our energies on achieving high-level goals related to efficiently strengthening community engagement, influencing policy and enabling sustainable business models. We’ve also begun retrofitting the organisation’s governance structure with a set of comprehensive reforms to increase our capacity for impact and efficiency. This will kick off with a new permanent board to be appointed in July 2024 and composed of high-capacity and high-profile people who can help bring MyData’s impact to the next level. A transitional board has been appointed by the general membership to recruit these unicorns and superheroes, and is enthusiastic about making it happen.
We’ve also been working to strengthen our position and connections to shape the global dialogue about personal data management. We collaborated with the Open Data Charter on the UN Secretary General’s consultation on the Global Digital Compact, contributed and co-published the OpenID Foundation’s white paper on “Human-Centric Digital Identity: for Government Officials”, and contributed to research conducted by the EC’s Joint Research Centre. We have managed to represent the human-centric perspectives in the design of data spaces through the Data Space for Skills and Data Spaces Support Centre projects.
To contribute to cutting-edge thought leadership, we have also begun working with MyData operators to refine the design principles proposed in a think piece on network-based ecosystems, and collaborated with key champions of responsible data governance Aapti Institute, Connected by Data, and the DataSphere Initiative, to map complementarities between advocacy for individual data control and collective data governance in the think piece entitled In this together. We’re excited about how these relationships and ideas can help drive MyData’s mission in the years to come.
2023 was a year of consolidation, adaptation and investment, and we have set ourselves some ambitious goals for 2024. We want to expand our membership globally, to provide the kind of support community we have seen to be so meaningful in Europe. We also want to strengthen our voice and message in the EU and beyond, to ensure that the rules and practices emerging around the globe don’t lock us into the top-down extractive economy that we have been fighting so hard against since the MyData movement first kicked off five years ago. Achieving these goals will require big thinking, a strong community, and hard work. We’re going to be fundraising and broadcasting, looking for smart ways to amplify our members’ work with limited resources. We’re also going to be preparing to bring some of our core activities to the next level, strengthening value for members, the utility of MyData awards, and a next-level MyData conference in 2025.
To move further on the path towards a more fair, sustainable and prosperous digital society, we need to work together. We’re looking forward to collaborating with you – the thinkers, doers and supporters and making 2024 even more successful!