Towards transparency and privacy in the online advertising business

MyData, a Nordic Model for human-centered personal data management and processing

What is MyData?

The term MyData refers 1) to a new approach, a paradigm shift in personal data management and processing that seeks to transform the current organization centric system to a human centric system,  2) to personal data   as a resource that the individual can access and control. Personal data that is not under the respective individual’s own control cannot be called MyData.

The aim is to provide individuals with the practical means to access, obtain, and use datasets containing their personal information, such as purchasing data, traffic data, telecommunications data, medical records, financial information and data derived from various online services and to encourage organizations holding personal data to give individuals control over this data, extending beyond their minimum legal requirements to do so.

Personal data has increasingly significant social, economic, and practical value. According to The World Economic Forum, ”Personal data is becoming a new economic asset class, a valuable resource for the 21st century that will touch all aspects of society”. The wider application and use of personal data, however, is often conflated with negative predictions of a future devoid of individual privacy.

Currently, individuals have little or no control over how data about them and their activities is created or used by businesses, governments, or data brokers. By giving individuals the power to determine how their data can be used, the MyData approach enables the collection and use of personal data in ways that maximize the benefits gained while minimizing the privacy lost.

Personal data is presently an underused ’raw material’ for new services due to the lack of interoperability and portability between datasets across services and sectors. We need a new infrastructure level approach on how to manage personal data.

The growth of Big Data analytics has brought privacy issues to the forefront. Regarding the ethical use and analysis of personal information, MyData and Big Data are complementary rather than mutually exclusive concepts. The concept of Big Data emphasizes the potential of combining and analyzing large datasets from the organization’s perspective while MyData focuses on the individual’s ability to control and benefit from the value of his or her personal data. The MyData approach provides organizations with the practical means for implementing data protection and privacy in the course of big data analytics

and brings individuals transparency as to how their data are being collected and processed. Without addressing the human perspective, many of the potential innovative uses of big data might become impossible if individuals perceive them as invasive, shadowy, and unacceptable.


Personal data is everywhere. Businesses in all sectors as well as governmental organizations collect increasing amounts of data about us.


The MyData approach incorporates the ‘Open Data’ movement philosophy that providing access to information in a free and transparent format increases its usefulness and value. By definition, Open Data is technically and legally free for anyone to use, reuse, and distribute. Similarly, data collected about a person will meet the criterion of MyData if it is technically and legally available for the individual to use, reuse, and distribute as s/he wishes.

MyData is:

  • An infrastructure-level approach for ensuring data interoperability and portability – open infrastructures make it possible for individuals to change service providers without proprietary data lock-ins
  • Sector independent – there is currently significant progress being made in individual sectors, such as health and finance, but a cooperative approach could work across all sectors
  • Consent-based data management and control – it is not necessary for the individual to store all his/her data in centralized repositories in order to control the data flow
About the author(s)

Miguel Pérez Subías | AUI

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