Personal data governance and subsidiarity

I was just at the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, and participated in the Internet Commons Forum. You can find an embed of my presentation below.

(my presentation starts at 8:22:41 if there is a problem with the direct link; all the talks that I saw – i.e. in my session – were excellent)

At the end, Parminder Jeet Singh of Indian NGO IT for Change asked a question.

Parminder has played in global data politics for a while. His question was simple: "Where does politics come in what we are doing (in the digital)?"

I answered through my involvement in MyData, but maybe not in the clearest way. I believe like him that subsidiarity should also apply in digital spaces: “a principle of social organization that holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution”. I wish I had emphasized this concept in my response, because it clarifies my dual involvement in MyData and PersonalData.IO. PersonalData.IO stands for individuals gaining back control over their data (through data rights) and making it collectively useful. It is about making a resource accessible to individuals (personal data), and putting them more in a position to decide collectively how to manage (some of) it if they so wish. MyData instead forms local hubs, that indeed would be the right structures to decide how to manage this data (we are not there yet). With this vision, it would make sense to have hubs at many levels (global, continental, country, canton, city, school, etc) helping people build mutual agreement on how to manage this resource. I believe MyData has generally the right frame to achieve this objective.