MyData Global Blog


2021 in review: the events and activities shaping the personal data landscape

2021 has been a productive year for MyData Global, and a significant one for the wider personal data world. The Facebook Files helped raise the issue of personal data and ethics to the general public, and the EU’s Data Governance Act has helped put into practice many of the changes MyData Global has been advocating for

This year, a new board was elected, significant work with MyData4Children got underway, and we conducted the first community meeting since the start of the pandemic. The MyData Global’s team structure and roles have also shifted, and we hired a Communications Lead. 

In this blog, the MyData Global team shares the stories and developments that inspired them in 2021, and what they believe will significantly shape the personal data economy in the years to come.

Teemu Ropponen, General Manager 

In 2021, MyData Global achieved its chief advocacy objective to influence the EU Data Governance Act and thereby strengthen the global trend towards data empowerment. MyData4Children stepped up their work with UNICEF, providing feedback to their Manifesto: The Case for Better Governance of Children’s Data. We have worked on new and exciting initiatives, such as Team Data Spaces and GovStack. We also retained over 100 active supporting companies and organisational members. 2021 also marks a milestone with the completion of our seed funding from SITRA, the Finnish Innovation Fund. More than anything, the reality of a world where people have control of their own data is starting to hit home. This was reflected in the State of MyData report, which detailed how personal data can inform and transform how humanity tackles a range of issues – from artificial intelligence to climate change.

The MyData 2022 conference next year will be a significant opportunity to build on the gains to date. I am personally very grateful to all the individuals and organisations that have contributed to MyData Global. My objective in 2022 is to ensure MyData continues growing support and catalysing positive change in the personal data economy. 

Sille Sepp, Programmes Lead  

2021 has shown us lots of developments in Europe that will accelerate the change towards a more ethical and human-centric digital society. From the eIDAS (Regulation on electronic identification and trust services) revision, to the work on the Data Governance Act and designing the data spaces of tomorrow, we are excited to see how the “soft” infrastructure for MyData-aligned solutions will be adopted in Europe and elsewhere. 

At MyData Global, we applaud the continuing effort of data intermediation services or MyData Operators finding common ground and vision to achieve interoperability, something that is a crucial aspect of the human-centric approach to personal data. We recognised and celebrated this with the MyData Operator Awards in November, which have been granted to 30 companies to date. 

MyData Global is also strengthening its position to shape foundational issues around personal data. We have kickstarted the work on taking a stance on personal data monetisation and will establish a well-founded position together with the MyData community in 2022. MyData Global has proven itself to be a thought leader in the personal data space, and we will continue to ensure that a human-centric approach is present in all discussions around personal data.

Ansku Tuomainen, Community Lead 

Two key drivers of MyData Global’s work are our hubs and the wider community. In 2021, we managed to convene meetings in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic; these took place in Amsterdam during the “MyData in the Netherlands” conference. This event was co-hosted by the Dutch MyData hub and covered a wide range of topics and issues from MyData and the global majority to Data monetisation. Over 50 people attended in person, and over 150 watched and participated online. Highlights include the keynote from Amsterdam’s Chief Technology Officer, Ger Baron, and the awarding of the MyData Operator 2021 Awards to 22 companies and organisations. We also launched a new blog series on local hubs, showcasing the innovative ways in which MyData Global is being carried forward in Japan and Taiwan (we will be doing more of these next year!).  

Karolina Mackiewicz, Project Manager

2021 was the year that MyData Global really started to get to grips with how the MyData Declaration can be implemented in different domains by engaging with companies and cities through the human-centric companies and cities (H3C) project. So far, over a dozen companies and cities in Finland have started to engage with each other to create services that better serve residents. Moreover, we had a great opportunity to elevate MyData Global’s thinking on the international (albeit virtual) stages this year when organising the thematic sessions on human-centric personal data management with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs at the Freedom Online Coalition Conference or the Internet Governance Forum. In the coming year, as the focus on ethical data solutions continues to gather global attention, I anticipate more governments, companies, and organisations reaching out to engage MyData Global in projects and partnerships . 

Victor Ponsford, Communications Lead 

For two weeks, the Facebook Files held the world’s attention and then the news cycle moved on. Nevertheless, the Facebook Files went further than previous scandals in engaging the general public with the inherent risks of personal data shared without protections and ethical considerations. If 2021 was the year when more people became aware of unethical approaches to personal data, then 2022 should be the year when they hear that ethical alternatives already exist. The MyData Operator 2022 Awards and the MyData 2022 Global Conference next year will be key moments to showcase viable alternatives to the wider world. There will no doubt be more scandals in the future from other companies. MyData’s role is to get people moving from outrage to action.