MyData 2016 blog


Welcome to the flip side – interview with Rufus Pollock

The founder and president of Open Knowledge, Rufus Pollock, had an interview with Molly from Open Knowledge Finland.


“MyData is an initiative born from the Finnish chapter of Open Knowledge (OKFFI), how do you feel about that?”

It’s inspirational and satisfying. Not just personally – it’s just wonderful to see how things flourish. OKFFI have been an incredibly active Chapter and for Finland, as a place, I feel like it’s a wise society, trying things out and they have good in-depth knowledge. Somehow there is not a lot of ego, the Finns are curious to learn and try things out. I actually think that deep down they are incredibly innovative. The whole topic of MyData is a huge issue, with a lot of connections to open data, even though it’s distinct thing. I think it’s only natural that a chapter of Open Knowledge is taking on and looking at it.

“I like the fact that you pointed out that the concept of personal data is distinct, but inevitably tied to the broader questions of open data! What will you speak about and what you wait to hear from other people?”

Obviously I know about data, and the questions going around privacy. Something I’m not expert at are the policy issues and what are the current big issues. I’m also very interested to see what the business is looking at. I want to hear discussion how people can innovate in this space, provide opportunity for people to use personal data different ways, in all kinds of areas. How to do it so that it respects and preserves people’s privacy? I’m not only waiting for policy and business side, but also the society and research side, there clearly is a lot of value coming from researchers. Think of healthcare and genomic data not only coming from individuals but from a wider population.

Generally, Open Knowledge is on a journey, on the policy side, to make sure that this incredible information revolution or digital revolution, which means that we are living in a world of bits, that the world of bits works for everyone. Rather than delivering more inequality and exploitation, which it can easily do, it delivers fairness and empowerment. It brings freedom rather than manipulation.

That doesn’t limit to the data sessions that can be opened, those data sets you can easily share with anyone. As a metaphor, the double-sided coin, where you have on one side public data or government data – the data open for everyone, and on the flip side there is your personal data, which you should be choosing how to share and how it’s used. Just like with open data, people should have freedom to access, share and use whatever data is made open. With MyData, you should be able to do the same, as you fit, and right now it’s not the case. It leads to the abuse of the system, but also stops innovations and stops people from being empowered.

Open Data and MyData are interconnected in people’s minds, nobody cares only for the other, but they care how this digital information is going to work, how it’s going to be managed – how the world is going to be managed. We in open knowledge want to see the people to be empowered in the information age, and one thing is that you should be empowered with the information about you.

Openness isn’t an end in itself, information is to be used as a service to empower people, to help them innovate, to learn, to discover, to earn a living and that idea of empowerment is a common thread in both access to personal MyData and the access to public data for everyone.”


Rufus is looking forward to return to Finland having run the Open Knowledge Festival in 2012. He warmly invites people to join the MyData Conference at the end this month!


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