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Taking back control of our data

Personal data drives customer experience, but it can quickly become a toxic asset.

Markus Hautala / September 05, 2019
Visit our MyData event page

People and businesses have fairly complex relationships towards sharing and using personal data. As users of different online services, we leave more traces of ourselves in the digital world than ever before.

When we sign up to a new online service, we share all types of background information about ourselves in order to get a better service. When we buy groceries, we swipe our loyalty card to get discount. When we visit shopping center, we share our contact details to get access to free parking. 

Handling and understanding customer data is the cornerstone of customer relationships. Customer insight also serves as the basis of powerful personalized products and services. However, growing volume of customer data comes with a privacy payload and accumulating more of it increases the privacy risks an organization carries.    

This is a major challenge given the growing threat of hacks and personal data breaches as well as the potentially severe penalties under a tightening regulatory regime. The problem needs to be mitigated collaboratively by both individuals and businesses. Which brings us to MyData. 

MyData and new decentralized identity networks offer ways to solve the trust challenge 

Digital economy depends on the availability and free movement of data. Until recently, the prevalent way to share identity information has been through a centralized platform with a single point of control. The problem with trusted middlemen is that when compromised, they pose a massive security risk to a large number of people. 

However, during the past couple of years, a Nordic model for human-centered personal data management and processing called MyData has raised thoughts about how data could be managed with identity owner at the centre. It is a model aimed at strengthening people’s own control over their data, and it makes a lot of sense. When individuals can easily control their exposure to the world, the trust in digital services grows.  

MyData brings a fundamental change in how we view and use data. It is an ideology driven by three main principles of: 

  1. Human centric control and privacy. 
  2. Usable and accessible data; data must be technically easy to access in a machine-readable open format via standardized interfaces.  
  3. Open business environment; MyData proposes a new identity owner centric approach to exchanging data. In this concept the identity owner has a single hub for data management. Via the hub the identity owner can give services the authority to access and use data. 

Even though MyData has gained a lot of attention, it has so far mostly existed in the ‘awareness’ phase. This is now changing as practical solutions that implement MyData ideology emerge. Most notably decentralized identity networks based on blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies (DLT) have given rise to new types of ecosystems where identity holders can form relationships without involving middlemen. 

Decentralised identity networks deliver MyData in practice 

One of the most promising national initiatives, aiming to solve the challenge of being able to trust information exchanged online, is FindyFindy stands for Finnish Indy network, a collaboratively governed and operated decentralised identity network.

In addition to Tieto, the founding members of the initiative include Nordea Bank, OP Bank, Asiakastieto Group, NixuSuomen Tilaajavastuu and The Social Insurance Institution of Finland. The short-term target of Findy is to enable piloting of broad range of use cases and services with the use of self-sovereign identities. The shared long-term vision is that Findy matures to a production level and serves as a ubiquitous national identity network. 

In decentralized identity networks, such as Findy, the identity holder forms secure digital connections with entities (like organizations, individuals or things) which can provide information about the identity holder. This information can be anything such as a personal identification number, home address, power of attorney or a customer’s consent to a service provider. This information can then be shared forward by the identity holder to a party that requires these proofs. This enables all kinds of rich digital interactions: Know-Your-Customer, contract and transaction signing (B2B, B2C, G2C), permits, asset ownership, to name a few. 

Join us at the MyData 2019 conference 

We at Tieto are focusing on building the future with the help of data-driven solutions that also respect and enhance our digital human rights. As such, we are proud to be a partner of MyData 2019 conference in Helsinki on 25–27 September 2019, where you can learn from global organizations and leading experts on how to build your business with MyData at the core.

Come to meet me at the conference and connect with me on LinkedIn for further discussions and insights on MyData and Findy! 

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I also recommend to have a look at Tieto's recently published AI survey, which reveals that Nordic consumers are concerned about how artificial intelligence is used today. The biggest concern about letting AI handle personal data is linked to a fear of the data being misused. Read more about the results here >>>

Markus Hautala
Head of Blockchain CoE

Markus has a broad experience on building innovative digital services and bringing them to market. He has over 10 years of experience in various lead business development roles within financial services and IT industry. He is currently Head of Blockchain Solutions helping to build smarter, more equal and inclusive societies with distributed ledger (DLT) technology.

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