[MyData & Open Data] Introductions

Laura James laura.james at okfn.org
Mon Mar 11 08:31:58 UTC 2013


Thanks for joining this working group! It might be good to introduce
ourselves and share our particular interests in this area.

Hello, I'm Laura, I'm with the Open Knowledge Foundation, and I've
previously worked on internet of things systems and in higher education
technologies, both of which are fields where privacy and data are both
important and complex, so I have a long standing interest here.

A couple of people have asked off-list about what the Open Knowledge
Foundation is doing in this area. The answer is we're not *doing* anything
(in that we have no staff working on this in particular) but we feel it's
an important and complex area which ought to be discussed.  As such we
thought we should start a working group to provide a forum for discussion,
and potentially this will lead to ideas for campaigns or projects down the

The OKF definition of 'open knowledge' is and has always been that it's not
personal data. When we advocate for openness of data, we don't mean
personal data.

Nonetheless, there are clearly questions about the level of privacy
afforded individuals by many of the sorts of datasets which organisations
may wish to open up - such as survey or census data. To understand these
privacy issues properly, one needs a pretty good understanding of
anonymisation techniques and how identity can be revealed, intentionally or
inadvertently. Personally, I'd like to see the open data community have a
greater understanding of these issues than it's perhaps had to date -
starting the discussion and gathering useful resources seems helpful here.

In parallel, we have a sense that to further our aims of empowering people
through open data, it would be great if individuals were able to choose
what happens to some of their personal data, including the informed choice
to open some datasets if they wish. This means that individuals would need
to have access to data about them and the ability to process it and publish
it under an Open Definition compliant licence (if they want). This helps
build up the open data commons with rich and interesting datasets, which is
great, but it's absolutely critical that it's down to the individual's own
choice, and that that choice needs to be informed about the potential
consequences.  The Quantified Self movement is one example where people
measure information about themselves and in some cases may choose to share
it; this is straightforward (eg if I weigh myself each day on my bathroom
scales, that data is mine and I can release it under an open licence, a
non-open licence or keep the data to myself).  It gets trickier once data
is gathered by third party services, whether that's an online service
logging my quantified self data, or the purchases I've made from an online

So, there's two really interesting angles and the OKF would like to be in
the debate, and to bring our expertise about open to the discussions about
personal data, and to learn about these areas which intersect ours.




Dr Laura James

Open Knowledge Foundation
*Promoting Open Knowledge in a Digital Age*
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