MyData Global Blog


MyData Global in action – making human-centric data economy happen and making it right

Why do we exist?

MyData is a human-centric and ethical approach to personal data, which aims at a far, sustainable, and prosperous digital society for all. In this society, people get value from their data and set the agenda on how their data is used. In this society, the ethical use of personal data is always the most attractive course of action for organisations.

In order to make this vision a reality, we believe three major paradigm shifts need to take place. These shifts were first described in 2017, when the MyData community co-created the MyData Declaration, underlining the need for human-centricity and agency in the data economy.

To reach the vision, we need the shifts …

From Formal to Actionable Rights

We should be able effortlessly, seamlessly and instantaneously to exercise our digital rights when using digital services, aka one-click rights.

From Data Protection to Data Empowerment

We should not be treated as merely “subjects who need to be protected”, but rather autonomous human beings with the will, agency, opportunities, skills and tools to make use of our personal data – as we like. 

From Closed to Open Ecosystems

There is a level playing field and fair competition between all sizes of companies, which will replace current virtual monopolies and produce a real choice between good alternatives for people.

And yes, this vision is huge! Luckily we’re not alone: rather, we are part of the larger movement towards a new paradigm for personal data use gaining force and momentum all around the world. We will only succeed if we work together.

Our strategy and Theory of Change summarised

Our key strategic goal for the period 2020-2022 is to accelerate practical advances towards the three shifts of the MyData Declaration by developing the skills, knowledge and connections of people in the MyData community and more widely in the digital services industries. How do we do it and why is described in our Theory of Change.

So here’s what our Theory of Change looks like:

The MyData Global Theory of Change

The MyData Global Theory of Change. Download the PDF here.

But what does this all mean? Let’s break it down.

What we’re doing to get started

The bottom of the Theory of Change describes the impact areas we have identified for our work and our core activities in those areas, in short, what we are doing now.

Connecting communities

We’re known for connecting communities through vibrant and action-oriented, multi-stakeholder meetings. Face-to-face meetings are particularly important for the cohesion and engagement of any community. The success of our global conferences and other events has established MyData as a warm, welcoming, and close community. The unique strategic contribution of MyData Events is to provide opportunities for face-to-face meetings, which are crucial for community cohesion and wellbeing.

Thought leadership

Our thought leadership is a prerequisite for any impact we have on the world: it shapes the direction of our joint activities and defines the change we want to see in the world. Our thought leadership is the spearhead that opens the way to innovation in the personal data space both theoretically and practically. A key initiative in the short- and medium-term is to establish the MyData Academy training and certification programme as a vehicle for collecting, synthesising, developing, and disseminating the expertise and thought leadership in the MyData community.

Ecosystem facilitation

Ecosystem facilitation means bringing together the people and organisations that are really developing and providing MyData services and enabling solutions in practice, or willing to build them. The aim of facilitating the development of MyData Ecosystems is to increase the speed of development and learning and at the same time find common direction on a journey towards interoperability.

Outreach and communications

Outreach and communications means the planned activities to reach our stakeholders with the intent to spread our core message, promote examples and doers in our community, and to amplify our organisational presence. The key activity in this area is the continued production and promotion of MyData Publications, such as expert webinars, a library of case studies, and white papers which will become respected, go-to resources for the personal data community. Effective outreach will also produce a measurable change in the reach, reputation and level of activity of the MyData organisation.

So, who are we anyway?

MyData Global leadership and actives in Edinburgh, at the Spring 2019 Community meeting.

MyData Global board, staff, steering group and actives in Edinburgh, at the Spring 2019 Community meeting.

MyData Global is an award-winning international nonprofit association founded in late 2018 after years of community-building efforts and a successful series of global conferences. We are politically non-aligned and emphatically collaborative, not antagonistic, by nature. We approach this complex set of issues from a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives. We speak of the four perspectives of the BLT Sandwich:


What new kinds of business models are needed when developing new services based on sharing personal data across services? What needs to happen to show that ethical business can be better business


How can different forms of legislation and regulation (and their enforcement) provide ingredients for solutions that enable the shift to a fair and sustainable digital world? How can legislation be a driver for innovation, not a blocker?


How can technology be wielded for the benefit of individuals and especially to protect human rights? How can technologies around personal data be harnessed to help the individuals, provide efficient public services – and help us reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals? 


How can individuals, communities and societies collectively use, share and benefit from personal data and grow towards a healthy and thriving data economy for all

MyData Global is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, and has nearly 90 organisation members and over 600 individual members from over 50 countries. The MyData Global organisation also has 25 local hubs in locations on six continents and 4 thematic groups (Design, Health, A New Governance and MyData Operators).

We facilitate the 2000+ strong MyData community working on the human-centric, ethical use of personal data.

“Let’s do it! How can we contribute?” Glad you asked …

Make it happen and make it right.

Make it happen and make it right. Almost all of the 25 local hub coordinators taking part in the MyData 2019 conference, in Helsinki.

Does all this sound meaningful? How do this vision and strategy resonate with your thinking? Does your organisation align with the MyData thinking? There are many ways we can work together to make it happen! Together we represent a significant voice and as a group, we are making change happen!

The first very simple steps – for organisations and individuals:

  • Join the MyData Global organisation – there are now nearly 90 organisations and over 600 individual members
  • Sign the MyData Declaration
  • Sign up for the MyData Newsletter to stay informed
  • Engage with the lively community discussions on Slack – with over 1700 experts from across the world

If you’d like to dive deeper, we also encourage you to 

Follow us in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube – in YouTube you can also re-enjoy most of the sessions of the past conferences

PS. Some reflections on developing our Theory of Change

We built our Theory of Change by focusing our short- and medium-term strategy on our core strengths and unique contributions. This meant that some very hard decisions were made regarding what we were not going to do – for example, because someone else is already doing fine work in those particular areas.

“A Theory of Change is a comprehensive description of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is focused in particular on mapping out what has been described as the “missing middle” between what an initiative does (its activities or interventions) and how these lead to desired goals being achieved. This is done by first identifying the desired long-term goals and then works back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place (and how these related to one another causally) for the goals to occur.”

The process for building this Theory of Change for our organisation was incredibly eye-opening and valuable, and we encourage all people and organisations working on effecting change in the world to make one for themselves. 

Our work was inspired by Mozilla, and Hivos – and we’d love to hear your feedback! 

We invite each and every company, organisation, and changemaker interested in making the future human-centric to sit down and compare notes with us: where do our Theories of Change overlap, where do our strategies complement each other and how do we boost each other on our parallel journeys? 

Get in touch with us at teemu[at] or through our Slack (


Teemu Ropponen
General Manager, MyData Global