The Flemish government sets up a company to build a digital data vault

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The Flemish government has set up a company that will develop a personal data safe for citizens. The company is called Athumi, is a continuation of the Data Utilities Company and will use the open standard Solid.

The Flemish government has Athumi set up with the aim of developing a so-called ‘data vault’. This is a digital safe in which Flemish people can place personal data. They can then share it with other bodies affiliated with the initiative. At the moment, that data vault is not there yet, but Athumi is already working on two initiatives: a career vault and a health safe. With the former, Flemish people can save their work history and diplomas and share them with, for example, a future employer. A collaboration had already been set up with employment agency Randstad. In the health vault, this is possible with data that can be shared with hospitals, doctors or other healthcare providers.

Although the safes are intended to ‘put citizens in charge and let them manage their own data’, Athumi insists that the data can also be used anonymously for research. “By analyzing controlled and strictly anonymous data from thousands of people, health scientists can gain important insights,” writes Athumi. That data is currently not centrally stored anywhere and is therefore difficult to use for researchers, but the data vault should make it easier for citizens to share that data anonymously with those researchers.

The vault Athumi is working on is based on the Solid standard from The Solid Project. That is an internet specification for making silos and data vaults in which Tim Berners-Lee, among others, is involved. It was previously announced that Microsoft would integrate its identity and access package Entra into the project, but Athumi is no longer writing about that. Well it is the Flemish Smart Data Space platform involved in the project.

In the future, the project should also be able to be linked to the European identity wallet that is currently being worked on. Several European companies are already working on their own initiatives to set up such a wallet, but it is not clear how the Flemish vault should fit into this in the future.

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