Sunday 8 December 2013

midata in the UK, MesInfos en France

300 individus volontaires ont accès à leurs données personnelles restituées par les organisations partenaires du projet via une plate-forme personnelle de données sécurisée.
Do what?

Look mate, it's French. Alright?

It means something like "300 volunteers have access to their personal data given back to them by partner organisations in the project via a secure personal data platform".

What project?

Project MesInfos, in French, or midata in pidgin English.

Norman Lamb mentioned it when he launched last year's non-consultation into midata, p.22, para.2.15:
In France the FING think tank has created the ‘Mesinfos’ group to look at developments in personal data and is hoping to run a pilot whereby a range of different datasets from the private sector are available to explore the opportunities for new applications and services.
Yes, they've got it, too, the French – midata – a bad dose:
Une communauté de développeurs et designer est mobilisée pour concevoir des applications et services innovants autour de ces données, ouvrant un nouveau champ d’usages pour les individus.
Or as we would say, roughly: "a community of developers and designers has been mobilised to conceive of innovative applications and services around personal data, creating a new utilities space for individuals".

And whereas we in the UK have Ctrl-Shift, the "market analyst and consulting business that helps organisations understand the implications and embrace the opportunities arising from the changing personal data landscape", over the water there in France they have Fing:
La Fing, coordinateur du projet, est un think tank de nouvelle génération qui aide les entreprises, les institutions et les territoires à anticiper les mutations liées aux technologies et à leurs usages.
Fing is "the co-ordinator of the [MesInfos] project, it is a new generation think tank helping businesses, institutions and local authorities to prepare for adaptations in technology use", least I fink that's what it says.

Oh lord. The poor old French being served up the same tosh as us Britanniques.

Do Ctrl-Shift and Fing really think we've never seen a bank statement before? Or an itemised phone bill? Do they think our pockets aren't already stuffed with detailed receipts from Sainsbury's and E. Leclerc? What are they talking about, suppliers refusing to give us our data back? It's nonsense. They're trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

And they're not very good at solving even non-existent problems. Either of them. midata or MesInfos. They say they're going to create a personal data apps market. We've already got one. Yea, verily, Google's power stretches even unto France. (And Google is one of the MesInfos project partners.) They're too late to provide a solution, the market already has.

Faites attention, MesInfos, not to make the same mistake as the midata Innovation Lab, and produce five dreary apps that no-one wants.

They promise us control over our personal data:
MesInfos propose une voie nouvelle, différente : faire en sorte que les individus puissent (re)trouver l’usage des données qui les concernent, à leurs propres fins.

Du point de vue des individus, il s’agit d’une nouvelle étape dans l’empowerment numérique.
That's Fing today echoing Ed Davey two years ago:
Today’s announcement marks the first time globally there has been such a Government-backed initiative to empower individuals with so much control over the use of their own data.
And it's just as hollow today as it was then. It is beyond the power of Fing to grant French consumers control over their personal data. Just as it is beyond the power of Mydex in the UK. So why do they make these ridiculous promises? You can ask them till you're bleu dans le visage, they can't answer the question how will you provide this control?

They both promise secure websites. A "plate-forme personnelle sécurisée" from Fing and a "hyper secure personal data store and platform" from Mydex. And what do we know about secure websites? They don't exist. Like unicorns.

In the UK the idea is that personal data stores should provide the basis on which "identity providers" can vouch that you are who you claim to be when you deal with government on-line. The personal data store is like a dematerialised ID card.

Is the same true in France?

Someone asked.

And Renaud Francou of Fing answered.

Who he? Answer, "Renaud Francou, 32 ans, a rejoint l’équipe Fing en 2003. Il anime depuis Marseille avec Charles Népote le programme Identités actives (2007-2009) et participe à l’animation du dispositif PACA Labs destiné à soutenir les projets expérimentaux en région Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur."

According to M. Francou:

So there we have it. Yes, he says, a MesInfos personal data store is an ID card. But a nice white one. Not a nasty black one. (You can say that in France. Presumably.)

Anyone remember Serge Blisko? Good luck, M. Francou, if MesInfos comes to his attention.


Updated 18 December 2013:

The UK has midata. France has MesInfos. And the US? MyData.

MyData is in the purlieu of the Presidential Innovation Fellows: "The Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program pairs top innovators from the private sector, non-profits, and academia with top innovators in government to collaborate during focused 6-13 month 'tours of duty' to develop solutions that can save lives, save taxpayer money, and fuel job creation".

You know what to look for now in these personal data schemes.

And it's all there in MyData.

"Empowering the American people with secure access to their own personal health, energy, and education data." Empowering? In what way? Secure access? Shouldn't that be hyper secure?

"... spurring the growth of private-sector applications and services that a person can use to crunch his or her own data for a growing array of useful purposes." The private sector applications and services market has already been spurred.

What is this array of useful purposes? Is it a 2013 echo of the South Sea Company's 1720 "undertaking of great advantage but no-one to know what it is"? Is it like midata's equally imprecise "data-enabled online market place [that] will create new services that will take your data and do some really interesting things with it"? What really interesting things?

The only distinguishing feature of the Presidential Innovation Fellows' MyData initiative is that when it says "Stay connected: Follow @ProjectMyData on Twitter" and you click on  @ProjectMyData, you see this Twitter page:

All those top innovators? 13-month tours of duty? Saving lives? Saving money? Creating jobs? All those questions, and the answer's "that page doesn't exist"? The PIFs' heart's not really in it, is it?

Updated 23 December 2013:

You know about midata in the UK and MesInfos in France. Also MyData in the US. Dull, dull, dull.

But what, you ask, of India?

And the answer, typically, is far wiser and more human: "Midata is a Telugu Movie. Main Cast: Srikanth and Namitha. Music Composed by Yatish".

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