Follow the money.
Mydex CIC is often asked: why are you different? It’s a reasonable question. At first, the description of Mydex CIC’s service doesn’t sound so different. For example: like most other platforms today, the data you store on the Mydex platform is stored in the cloud. Like most other platforms, processing of that data is also done in the cloud, not on your own computer. Mydex CIC is built on entirely open source components but our specific configuration of those components is not open source. So, people ask, how is Mydex CIC different from companies whose platforms it calls “walled gardens” that collect personal data and monetise it?
When you follow the money, the difference is clear.
In the early 1990s, it was popularly predicted that the Internet would be a platform for disintermediation. For a time, that was true: online retailers that began by sourcing their products from distributors began dealing directly with goods manufacturers. Other sectors followed the same pattern: when’s the last time you used a travel agent to book airline tickets or a family broker to buy insurance?
But even then the Internet was simultaneously spawning new intermediaries, beginning with payment providers that accepted credit cards on behalf of individuals and small businesses who couldn’t qualify for merchant authorisations. Many more intermediaries have grown up to join them: search engines act as gatekeepers to content we want to access; aggregators pull in content from myriad sources; mapping services on the web and mobile phones serve up local geography; and social media platforms intermediate personal relationships that formerly, online and off, were direct, private affairs. As the Internet of Things develops to connect up physical objects that today are inert lumps of metal, wood, or plastic, other service providers and manufacturers will begin to intermediate activities as mundane as going to the refrigerator to get out some milk.
These intermediaries make their money in multiple ways. While end users do not pay directly in money for online services such as search, relationships, and communications, they pay with the data the services collect about their behaviour. The intermediary makes its money via commercial relationships with advertisers and others wishing to exploit that data under terms that are never disclosed to end users. Mydex CIC does not do this.
With payment gateways and ecommerce sites, the user pays directly for the service — yet the services still collect and exploit the data. Functionality, such as that embedded in a fitness device or a mobile phone, again captures data about its owner’s activities, which may be uploaded to the cloud and aggregated with others’ data to make it possible to share new functions, create comparison charts, or provide advice. Mydex CIC does not do these things either.
In all these cases, if we as individuals want to view or exploit our data ourselves, we must ask the service provider for access, and even then the data may not arrive in a format we can use. The services can share our data, but we can’t. If possession is nine-tenths of the law, the data is ours, but it’s not ours, and what is done with it is subject to densely written policies that differ from provider to provider and that give us no insight into the underlying commercial relationships.
Mydex CIC is also free to end users; it does not charge end users for the use of its platform, tools, or capabilities. However, Mydex CIC has no access to users’ personal data stores, does not sell data or insights about individuals based on their data or behaviour, does not swap data with other services, does not monetise the individuals it serves, and does not insert advertising into users’ experience of its service or any other. Finally, Mydex CIC does not prevent or inhibit users from exporting their own data to use in any way they wish, including sharing it with anyone else; you control the data you collect and capture, and you choose with whom to share it. This is not a walled garden.
A key element is Mydex CIC’s data-sharing agreement, a standard set of legal terms and protections to which organisations must agree before they are allowed to connect to the Mydex CIC platform or the individuals who use it. No clauses are hidden from anyone, Mydex CIC has no data rights, and no one has access to any individual’s data without their express permission. The commercial terms are published: connecting organisations pay a one-time fee per system for connecting to the Mydex platform, a one-time connection fee per individual they use it to connect to over it, and an annual support fee of 25% of the aggregate of all connection fees the organisation has paid across systems and individuals. There are no volume-based charges; however, Mydex CIC takes a 4% transaction fee where paid transactions are involved, whether that’s the organisation using the platform to either pay individuals for access to their data or using it to charge individuals for use of their service or app. This pay- as-you -go model reflects a sustainable and proportionate approach to funding both Mydex CIC’s community interest and the platform’s safety, security, and stability of operation. The real benefit for organisations is that they are freed of the expensive and risky burden of collecting, curating, checking, and protecting their customers’ data and needing to expose it externally directly.
There is an Internet saying, generally attributed to Andrew Lewis, that holds that: “If you are not paying for it, you are not the customer, you are the product being sold.” Mydex CIC’s commitment as a community interest company is to “carry on its activities for the benefit of the community we serve, which is made up of individuals in all contexts of their lives”. In short, you are not the product.