Mention: “10 steps towards the Big Society” – Geoff Mulgan

September 9th, 2010

Reclaiming control over our personal data could be one pillar of David Cameron’s Big Society plans, argues Geoff Mulgan. In a new publication Investing for social growth the Young Foundation director sets out a practical 10-step programme to make the Big Society notion, with which politicians and the public have clearly struggled, a reality.

This must include new rights, new tools, new finance and a move towards measuring social growth instead of just stock markets and currencies and the oil price. As well as regaining control over unused property, and over personal budgets people need to regain control over personal data, he argues, including Mydex as a case study example of how this might be possible (text below).

Data about most of us can be found in hundreds of databases. Some data is held by banks and retailers, other data by government agencies. Some of the data is wrong. Occasionally large data sets are lost. Few of us feel in control of who knows what about our personal data.

The alternative of using trusted personal data is exemplified by Mydex, founded by entrepreneurs and digital rights activists William Heath, Iain Henderson and Alan Mitchell. This community interest company, backed by the Young Foundation, equips people with a platform for managing, sharing and realising the value of personal data about their details and preferences.

Mydex represents one of the most radical ideas for shifting power from big government and big business towards the community and the individual. Mydex works on smartphones and PCs. It provides a personal data store, third party authentication or verification of claims, and selective disclosure either for each transaction or over time, with the aim of helping people protect and realise the value of their personal data as they transact online.

Live service starts in autumn 2010 in a community prototype with two local councils, a leading social network and online authentication services. The medium-term aim is to create a citizen-owned organisation that will protect and organise personal data and ensure it is used with integrity.

From Investing in Social Growth: Can the Big Society be more than a slogan?The Young Foundation, September 2010

William Heath

About William Heath

William Heath is chairman of Mydex CIC.

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