Introducing “My Data” features

As of September 2017, we’ve introduced into PROFIT platform features related to so called “My Data”, namely:

  • ability to view all the data from and about the user (himself) which the platform contains = “View all the data”
  • ability to download all that data in machine readable form = “Download all the data”

My Data in General Settings

Motivation

Some of us (the PROFIT team) are involved with Open Data for several years, so we can trace our motivation for such functions to “My Data” concept described in Laura James’ blog post “Open Data & My Data” from 2013:

Today, we rarely have access to these types of data, let alone the ability to reuse and share it, even when it’s my data, about just me. Who owns data about me, who controls it, who has access to it? Can I see data about me, can I get a copy of it in a form I could reuse or share, can I get value out of it? Would I even be allowed to publish openly some of the data about me, if I wanted to?

Where the Open Definition states that material should be freely available for use, reuse and redistribution by anyone, we could think that my data should freely available for use, reuse and redistribution by me.

The rest of the team is (have to be ) motivated by General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679). In particular relation to this initial set of functions, “Data portability” applies:

A person shall be able to transfer their personal data from one electronic processing system to and into another, without being prevented from doing so by the data controller. … Both data that has been ‘provided’ by the data subject, and data that has been ‘observed’ — such as about their behaviour — is within scope.

Wider scope

Given our motivation and wider context, both features (view and download) are just a smaller pieces of a bigger picture, where:

  • users are not just putting data into platforms (ours included),
  • but can also see what platforms “know” about them,
  • get a copy of that data,
  • move (parts of) that data to other platforms
  • and delete that data from platforms as they see fit.

This is being recognized not just by our project, bu also by wider community of entrepreneurs, activists, academics, listed corporations, public agencies, and developers, see for example MyData.org declaration .

Current state

PROFIT platform is currently in prototyping phase. You can access the prototype at https://platform.projectprofit.eu/ and try those two (and other) features for yourself. Both features are for registered users and require prior log-in to the platform.

There are some basic principles we follow:

  1. User can see all the data which is his/hers (entered by him/her into the platform) or about him/her (i.e. “observed”).
  2. User can not see personal data of other users.

Some trade-offs or compromises are then made based on those two principles in cases when a particular piece of data is sort of “mixed”. Example: Imagine you’ve posted a comment to my article. Clearly, you want to see this comment in the overview of your data. But just having your comment, without a context (information about an article it responds to), has much less value for you. But that article is mine. So, can the platform include something from my article in your data overview? The compromise here is that yes, if we include say title of my article (fair-use) and article was made publicly available by me.

Given prototyping phase, we have little content in the platform for now. This provides a good opportunity to play with the features, as the information volume is low and it is thus easier to spot small details. We invite you to register to the platform, post small pieces of information (some articles, comments, etc.) and then review the “My Data” features. You can report bugs via “Report broken feature” (located at the bottom of all platform pages) or suggest improvements (for example via contact form). While doing so, please keep in mind the prototype is already public, so post only information relevant to its mission, i.e. content related to financial awareness, financial education, finance, etc.

View all the data

This feature will display for you all the data the PROFIT platform has about you, meaning either data you’ve put into the platform previously (your name and surname, your articles, etc.) but also items “observed” (for example who follows you on the platform).

Overview is mainly meant for interactive work, i.e. giving you quick overview based on which you can then decide on further actions.

My Data: view the data

Download all the data

Thanks to this feature, you are able to download all your data from the platform and store it elsewhere: either just a backup on your computer or for example importing just articles into some other service (to be provided by somebody else in the future).

Exported data is in machine readable form (XML), so you can use programming or data analytic tools to work with the data. (But you can still also view it, thanks to so called XSL and style-sheet data present in the exported data.)

My Data: download all the data (as XML)

Side note: Under the hood, both features are working with same code, XML, XSL and style-sheets, so both features give you exactly same data.

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