FAQs

What is the midata Innovation Lab (mIL)?

The midata Innovation Lab (mIL) is part of the midata voluntary programme run by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The aim of the lab is to develop consumer-focused applications and services using the sort of customer data that will be released under the midata initiative.  The UK Government believes that giving consumers access to their data and stimulating the creation of apps and services that use this data will be good for UK consumers and good for growth.

Why should I participate?

As an initial volunteer for the lab we believe that you will be a data pioneer. As such you will be crucial to developing understanding about how we go about creating a vibrant personal data market in the UK. People who are involved in the drive to open up data for consumers, including Sir Nigel Shadbolt, who is sponsor of this project, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, believe that we are at the vanguard of a major change similar to the early days of the world wide web.

How long am I expected to participate in this?

You will be asked to participate between the 4th July, the date of the data donation clinic, and the end of this stage of the lab on 31st October. During that time you will initially be asked to donate your transaction and personal data and after that certain companies may approach you for feedback and engagement as they develop services and apps. It will be up to you if you engage with the company and how much time you give.

How many hours do you expect I will have to contribute in total?

Most people will find that it takes between one to two hours to load their data and it does not have to be completed in one session. If companies approach you to help them test new services and apps then it’s up you how much time you give.

What’s in it for the companies involved?

The companies involved in the mIL will be working collaboratively alongside some of the UK’s leading brands, consumer protection authorities and developers. They will be given a unique opportunity to interact with data empowered consumers and by doing so understand how best to deliver data driven customer services and products and whether any new consumer protections might be required in a data enabled world. As potential early adopters they will also be given a head start in what is potentially a large, global market of services driven by personal data, managed by the individual.

How do I upload my data into the mIL?

You can start uploading your data through a web portal, which can be accessed here from the Become a Data Donor tab on the midatalab.org.uk website .

Where does my data go once I’ve entered it into the portal?

Your data is safely and securely stored in a Personal Data Service (PDS). A PDS has the same degree of security as bank systems and your data is individually and uniquely encrypted, which means you are in complete control and can delete it all at any time.

What data are you asking for?

The personal data we are asking for is focused on a few key areas: data about you, about your vehicle and property, transactional banking and credits records, your mobile, phone, broadband and TV billing information, and your utility bills. This may open up as we find people have more ideas about information that they would find useful to incorporate in the mIL.

What if I can’t remember my login details and passwords to the portal?

The portal has a password recovery process that will allow you to reset your password. The portal also has a six digit PIN code that stops someone that knows your user name resetting the portal password and accessing your data. If the PIN is forgotten, no one will be able to access your data and it will be deleted at the end of the Lab. 

Will anyone have access to my login details and passwords? 

Your portal username is also an email address and therefore will be used by the mIL to contact you. Your password is not accessible to anyone and we will never ask for it.  Your password can be reset by you if required. You will also be asked to create a six digit PIN to access the portal, alongside your username and password.  This is secret to you and cannot be reset by the project team so it needs to be kept safe and secure.

How long will it take to upload my data?

Most people will find that it takes between one to two hours to load all of the data.  But it doesn’t have to be completed in one session. If companies approach you to help them test new services and apps then it’s up you how much time you give.

Do I have to provide all my data?

There is no obligation to enter all your data, please contribute the information you feel comfortable including in the personal data store.

How long will the mIL last?

The first phase of intense experimentation in the mIL is scheduled to last until the end of October.  It is during this period that you will be invited to give your thoughts on new prototype products.  However, depending on the success of this period, the mIL may continue beyond October and you will be able to continue participating if you wish.  At the end of the process you will have your data safely stored in Personal Data Stores, and can continue to use this service if you want to

Do I have to keep my data updated between now and October?

It’s completely up to you. If you would like to update your data over the time you are involved in the lab then this will add to a fuller, more comprehensive picture of you but it is not a requirement

What is a personal data store?

A personal data store or PDS (also called personal data vaults or personal clouds) are services that enable individuals to upload and manage all their personal data  online. This includes information ranging from utility bills to personal information, such as driving license or passport details.

Which personal data stores are you using in the MIL?

The MIL is working with three leading Personal Data Stores – Allfiled, Mydex and Paoga.  Your data will be replicated across all three.  Using three, rather than one, helps us to learn about different approaches to data management.   These three have been carefully selected to keep your data safe, and all operate using the best industry standard security techniques. They are at least as safe as using online banking facilities.

Will I be able to choose which personal data store my data is stored in during my involvement in the lab?

No. However, each one of the three data stores involved in the lab has been carefully selected and is operated using the best industry standard security techniques. It is at least as safe as using online banking facilities.

How do I know I can trust them not to lose or leak my information?

The Personal Data Store’s used in the mIL are the best in class for this work. They are fundamentally designed to ensure no data is lost or leaked. At all times industry standard checks and balances are built into the software.

Can they be hacked?

It is always possible to hack systems if someone tries hard enough. However, we are using industry standard security techniques and are confident that your data will be secure whilst it is stored on behalf of the lab.

Can I use a data store in “real life”?

Yes it is possible to use it a data store in real life, but that would be the equivalent of using facebook when it only had 100 users. We are at the very start of a very large industry sector that will develop over the next few years.

Will companies be using my data individually to develop apps or services or aggregated with other participants?

Companies will use individual’s data on an as needed basis. For example they may be looking to develop a service that helps you consume less energy and therefore may want to have access to your energy consumption data but don’t need any financial or telecoms information. They may want to help you choose the best schools or GPs in your area so would only need your postcode and perhaps how many people are in your family. They will not be able to aggregate all of your data or aggregate data from others together.

Will I be asked to test a new app or service?

Yes, companies will be able to approach you at any time to ask for your participation in developing apps and services. It’s up to you if you participate and how much time you give.

Will I be offered an incentive to participate in further testing by the company who is developing a particular app or service?

It is not a requirement for the founding partners or developers to offer you an incentive. It is up to you if you participate – you do not have to.

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