We are driving a paradigm shift in the digital world by establishing a decentralised infrastructure of personal, local data storage that allows everyone to reclaim, save, manage, use and share their personal data. In doing so, we are massively improving existing apps and services, making them more accurate and personalised without sacrificing privacy. You alone determine who knows what about you.
We at polypoly believe that you and everyone else should have control over your personal information. This can only be achieved by a fundamental and sustainable change in the data economy. We have set out to create a new economic system for data, not alone but together with citizens, businesses and governments – for the benefit of all – but this time with citizens on an equal footing with the rest of the players.
A Cooperative is a collection of people who voluntarily agree to come together in support of a common economic, social, and/or cultural cause to achieve a collective goal. It’s the intersection of an association and a company.
Cooperatives are essentially an association of people who come together to form a joint business operation. The idea behind it: to achieve together what is impossible alone. Classical examples are the purchase of an apartment building or shared agricultural machinery.
The Cooperative is a business entity, like a GmbH, AG, a limited company or a corporation. In a cooperative, however, everyone has only one democratic vote to decide how the company operates. In a GmbH, corporation or other company however, the person with the most shares has the most decision making power. Thus, hostile takeovers are impossible in a cooperative, because no competitor can buy it out or take a controlling share. The largest shareholder gets a larger share of the pie at the end of the year, but cannot impose a decisions upon others regarding what the business should do or how it should operate.
The European Cooperative (Latin: Societas Cooperativa Europaea (SCE)) is a company form available under EU law since 2006 and is therefore governed by a significantly more modern legal framework than that offered by traditional German cooperative law.
The Societas Cooperativa Europaea (SCE) was established in 2006 and is a European Cooperative, a legal form that only exists in the European Union. It was established to enable pan-European businesses that are collectively owned by citizens of Europe. At polypoly, we are using this institution to build a citizen-centric data economy that can operate across the European Union and and include all Europeans.
In a typical corporate structure, only a few people can own parts of a company or have the power to make decisions on behalf of an organisation. A Cooperative on the other hand belongs to its members. Each member is equally empowered with decision making rights. This is why Cooperatives are considered “democratic businesses” – because every member has a vote and each vote carries the same weight, regardless of how much of the company the voter owns.
polypoly was founded as a response to the current challenges and problems created by the digital landscape of mega-unicorns and centralised data storage. To create a counterweight to that, we need to enable people to participate collectively in fair data management. We founded a European Cooperative to give anyone who wants a voice, a vote and a personal stake in the company – and this will empower users towards collective profits through fair participation.
Cooperatives have always existed as long as humans have shared work: That is, from time immemorial. As an official organisation, some consider The Shores Porters Society, established in 1498, as the world's first Cooperative. But they came into being as a legal entity during the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution as a way to embody worker's rights and improve labour conditions. Those same conditions gave rise to the Socialist Movement, which idealised the Cooperative as an economic body. Today, Cooperatives have gained traction again, similar to energy companies that team up with individuals to install solar panels on their rooftops and share the income gained from the excess power together.
All EU citizens can become members of the polypoly Cooperative, if they are older than 18 years and not a US citizen. In addition, we would like to make membership in the Cooperative also possible for people who are residents in an EU country and have a permanent residence permit. However, In some cases further steps are necessary to examine and approve the membership application.
Yes, but in this case we reserve the right to conduct a more comprehensive examination of the membership application. However, if you have a US citizenship in addition to a European citizenship, you cannot become a member. This is because US law allows its citizens to sue the polypoly Cooperative in a US court instead of a European one, and we must protect the Cooperative in the interests of its members.
All members have equal rights and obligations. Every member has one vote, regardless of the number of shares a member holds. Members can participate in meetings, events and voting decisions at their discretion, but participation is not obligatory. The level of involvement is determined by each member individually – anyone can choose to be a "silent member" and remain inactive if they wish.
One way that members can participate in the Cooperative is when members come together to vote and decide on issues. These meetings will probably be held in an online environment. The other way that members can participate, is by electing the Board of Directors, which is responsible for the management of the Cooperative. The members of the Board of Directors are elected by the members of the Cooperative at the General Assembly. The Board of Directors can then establish other groups as and when needed – to focus on providing support or advice/expertise regarding specific topics or areas of interest. Members can also participate by joining these supporting groups.
The polypoly cooperative - officially called: pc polypoly coop SCE mbH - is a European cooperative (SCE) with a monistic structure. This means that there is a decision-making body (general assembly) and a management body (administrative board). Within the administrative board, one or more managing directors are appointed. The other members of the board of directors exercise the control function.
Currently (as of autumn 2021), the board of directors consists of 5 members, one of which is the managing director.
If you decide to buy additional shares, simply complete a new purchase transaction through our website. As soon as you enter the same email address with which you have already subscribed to shares, new shares will be automatically added to your member account.
Setting up a cooperative is not something for which there is a pattern, especially if you want to act very sensitively with data protection. So we are still in the learning phase here, testing and trying out how we want to communicate.
Currently (as of autumn 2021), the cooperative has just under 550 active members and the number is steadily increasing. “Active“ means that members have been admitted by the board of directors in accordance with the statutes. Persons who are not yet 18 are dormant members.
We still have a long way to go and are very much looking forward to growing further - and then also with the help of communicative measures, which we are now ramping up step by step.
The term Data Economy roughly describes economic activity using data, a synonym would be data trade. We use this term to describe the entire system of companies and other players involved in the collection, storage, evaluation, trade, etc. of personal user data. Part of the data economy are, for example, large American corporations such as Facebook, Amazon, Google etc. and German companies such as Telekom as well.
Currently, the Data Economy is designed to gather as much as possible about you for the purposes of using, selling or sharing this private information. All of this happens without your control, without your permission and mostly even without your knowledge. Data privacy is an illusion in a world where huge profits are made from Data Trading. More than ever, this statement holds true: If you are not paying for it, then you are the product.
It is only when Europe creates its independent Data Economy, which is fundamentally different from the American or Chinese counterparts, that we as users can regain our privacy. European data capital can then be reclaimed and the European economy will become competitive. A European Data Economy is necessary if we want to maintain our strong economic position.
We access various sources. For example, on open portals such as https://opencorporates.com/, but also directly on the privacy policies of the websites of the respective companies.
We do not rely entirely on automatically retrieved data, but carry out an additional manual check for all data records.
Digital sovereignty means being master of your digital identity again; you control your information at all times. You know which companies collect, share, sell and process which data about you. You control who knows what about you and what this information is used for.
Data is valuable because it can be used to offer services, improve products, target advertising and much more. But data does not have a fixed value like other objects; it is traded like currency in the Data Economy. The term "Data Capital" refers to both these circumstances.
In a Data Economy, when a person has more Data Capital than others, then that person is considered "Data Rich" and whoever owns the most Data Capital is king.
This can only be estimated, but large quantities of data are stored in the data silos of large American companies. For example, In 2016, 97% of Facebook's revenues were obtained from advertising, or in other words: Facebook earned around 23 billion Euros with the data of its users. Every day, millions of Euros worth of data capital are being transmitted to the USA from Europe via undersea cables.
A large portion of our economy is based on data. If the data capital generated in Europe flows abroad, it threatens our economy and that affects us all. More importantly, the rules regarding data collection and processing are also extremely important. The only way to ensure that these European rules are being followed is by bringing back our Data Capital to Europe.
This depends on many factors, such as your age, your income, your activities, your preferences, the apps you use, and much more.
Basically, it can be said that the more comprehensive and complete the data sets are, a more complete profile of you can be obtained and better quality data sets based on complete profiles are worth more. Additionally, the greater your income, the greater the value of your data, as you are then a more rewarding target for advertisers. The average market value of a person's data however, is less than one Euro.
Another clue can be how valuable a user was valued when a company was sold or went public. A few real-world examples: Instagram: $22, WhatsApp: $55, Skype: $200
The main reason such a large amount of data can be stolen is that data records are all stored in the same place; a Data Silo. This location might be secure, but the security needs to breached just once by hackers in order to access all the data. If all data records were stored instead in a decentralised way – with each data record in a different location – the incentives for hackers to steal data in the first place would be dramatically reduced.
Knowledge is power. This is especially true for election campaigns, because elections, like everything nowadays, are increasingly determined by numbers. Which candidate says what, where and to which target group, what ads are shown to whom – even policy platforms are increasingly chosen based on data. Candidates with better information about about their potential voters can motivate them whilst demotivating opposition voters – addressing both in a highly targeted manner. For example, both Obama and Trump's election campaigns in the USA were massive social media and data campaigns, and the same happens in Europe too. All political parties are increasingly using digital media and personal data to influence elections.
Digital shadow or digital twin refers to all the information that is available about you out there in the digital world. Your digital shadow or twin follows you wherever you go on the internet. Most of the time you are not even aware of it, but it strongly determines your digital life. For example, depending on the information that is saved about you, you will be shown different prices or offered different insurance rates when you shop online. In extreme cases, your digital shadow or twin may even be intentionally or unintentionally falsified, for example, in the case of identity theft, credit card fraud or any other digital crime commited online.
Personal data are details and information that relate to a natural person (as opposed to a legal entity, e.g. a company). This can be, for example, personal data (age, address, date of birth, etc.), identification numbers, or bank data and physical characteristics (gender, eye color, height, etc.).
Personal data is protected by the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
There is data that can cause a particularly great deal of damage in the wrong hands, such as genetic and biometric data or health data. For this reason, these data must be given very special protection. Particularly strict rules apply to the collection and processing of this data.
Especially companies on the Internet, such as Facebook, Google and others make their money with the data of their users. Based on the search history on Google, the pages you have viewed on Facebook and the people you are friends with, these companies can find out what you like and influence you with respective advertising or information.
The more data the companies have about you, the more precise the profile that is created about you. And the more precise your profile is, the more money can be made with your data.
In addition, your data can be misused on the Internet. Criminals use your data to shop at your expense or even commit crimes. That's why protecting personal data is so important.
Data is collected every day by public authorities and companies. However, there are certain rules for collecting data, which are set out in the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Companies and public authorities have to implement these requirements and ensure protection of personal data. This means, for example, data protection training for employees, data secrecy obligations and high penalties in case of violation.
Active data protection means not only a high effort for companies, but also high costs. In the decentralized data economy aspired by polypoly, these costs are minimized enormously, because the DSGVO (Basic Data Protection Regulation) or GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is complied with by using polyPod. You as polyPod user decide yourself if and which data you share, so your consent is always given when sharing data.
The big companies like Facebook and Co. work with central data silos.
A data silo refers to information and data stocks that are stored in special locations and to which only certain people or companies have access.
Data monopolists like Facebook and Co. all have their own data silos, i.e. large databases stored on servers with their users' data.
Why and how long personal data may be stored is stated in the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Personal data may only be stored for a specific purpose and only as long as it is necessary for that purpose. The purpose must be stated before the processing of the data begins.
Yes, because according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies and authorities are obliged to provide information about the data they have stored. Many companies have a ready-made form for this, for others an informal request is sufficient.
According to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), personal data may only be processed if the data subject agrees or if there is another – legal – reason for processing the data. An example of this would be, for example, the performance of a contract.
Personal data includes, for example, name, age, address, date and place of birth, phone number and the email address, but also technical data such as device IDs and GPS location history.
All previous ways to protect your personal data have one thing in common: As a user you have to deal with the topic of data protection and actively adapt your actions to your need for data protection. We at polypoly take a different approach. Everybody who wants to actively deal with the protection of own data should have the possibility to do so, for this we provide the necessary information. But also everyone who does not want to deal actively with the topic should enjoy a comprehensive data protection. This is an aspect that polyPod covers and that essentially distinguishes our approach from others.
According to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), personal data may only be disclosed if the data subject agrees. However, separate rules apply in the fight against crime.
If personal data has been disclosed or collected against the will of the data subject or without valid legal reason, then companies or authorities must block, correct or delete it.
Within the European Economic Area, your personal data is protected by the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). If data is transferred from the EU to countries outside the European Economic Area, their data protection laws also apply.
Even if the data is stored outside the USA, e.g., in Europe, the CLOUD Act comes into play. CLOUD stands for Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data. The U.S. law allows U.S. authorities to access stored data from U.S. companies – even if the data is stored abroad.
Data security: generally refers to the protection of data from access by unauthorised persons, regardless of the type of data involved.
You can download the polyPod like an app onto the device of your choice. Your personal data is then securely stored on the polyPod and it provides the infrastructure for further applications and features. The polyPod itself acts as a store and a mediator for your data. It enables you to reclaim your data from companies like Google and Facebook and store it on your devices. From there you can freely dispose of your personal data, share, donate or rent it, to whomever you want. The algorithms come to the data instead of the data leaving the polyPod.
With the polyPod you will be able to request your personal data from a variety of companies and load it directly onto your polyPod and make it available for other purposes. Our goal is to make this happen in as few simple steps as possible. As soon as you receive your data, you are back in control and can decide who can or cannot use it and for what purposes.
Our goal is to make the digital world and data economy understandable for everyone. To facilitate this, we are working on putting together a kind of encyclopaedia of the data economy, the polyPedia. In the future, thanks to the polyPod, you will have the ability to personalise information about the data economy based on your data. Through this, you we will be able to tell which providers know what about you and what they do with this information, with whom they share your data or why you have received a certain rating from a credit agency – among other things. We want to take you behind the scenes of the data economy and make this information understandable and accessible for you. This is polyPedia.
No – the use of polyPod is free of charge for all users.
Features are like small apps, which can be provided by companies, GOs and NGOs which extend the polyPod with specific functions. These features are loaded onto the polyPod from a Feature Depot and are executed locally. Within the polyPod, the features have access to all the data available in the polyPod and can therefore offer you new and personalised services.
Feature depots are digital locations from which features are downloaded onto the polyPod. There can be any number of them. Each depot can be operated by different providers and contain different features. In this way, we prevent dominant providers from determining the entire market and controlling access to features.
For the initial release of the polyPod we will provide a limited number of features. These include:
We are already in discussion with various business partners who would like to provide their own features based on the polyPod infrastructure. Our infrastructure is open source, and thus open to everyone and covers all conceivable areas of application, whether streaming, insurance, shopping or messaging.
The majority of hacker attacks on personal data are financially motivated. Hackers don't tend to target individual people, but try to get hold of as much data as possible in order to sell it or use it themselves. If millions of data records are in one place, this makes the effort involved in the hacking of such data financially worthwhile. But if this data is distributed over millions of devices, all of them would have to be hacked individually. This is how we achieve a higher level of protection for you as a user – with a decentralised approach.
In addition to the security aspect, a decentralised infrastructure is also more fail-safe and resource efficient. We follow the edge computing approach, meaning calculations are performed directly on site, eliminating the high energy costs for data transfer and additionally reducing the need for expensive servers. Of course, the lower energy consumption also benefits the environment.
We make every line of code for the polyPod available, transparently, to everyone. That way the tech community can directly keep checks and balances on what our programs do and also report bugs. This creates trust and enables us to solve problems faster and better together with the help of the community. We are also convinced the open source approach is the right one for another reason: we are against monopolists and we don't want to end up becoming one ourselves. Therefore it was clear right from the beginning that everything we develop is going to be open source.
We at polypoly are convinced that we need transparent companies, not transparent users. We follow the edge computing approach, which means that calculations are performed directly on the spot. All data is stored locally on your end device and can be used by the features. If a feature is to execute a function, it simply calls the corresponding algorithm from the server of the manufacturer and executes it locally. This way the algorithm gets to the data and not vice versa. This approach enables us to save on high energy costs of data transfer and there is no need for expensive servers.
Trust needs to be earned and for us, your trust has the highest value. We want to earn your trust and to prove that, we have decided to transfer the rights of the technology that we developed to the cooperative and in turn, to its members. But that's not enough! The whole technology stack is open source. We want to give you the possibility to hold us to account, according to your capabilities. As a member of the cooperative or as a developer, who can look at our source code closely and help us with improvements in the future.
Features for the polyPod can communicate with the polyPod via an application programming interface (API). This is necessary to increase security for users. We will publish the exact interfaces when we release the first version of the polyPod. Until then, please understand that we want to work on these on a smaller scale for the time being.
As a fast-growing pan-European cooperative with a projected large membership base, we naturally need to to hold elections online.
It will be possible directly from polyPod. This feature is under development. As it is still some time until the next general assembly, other functions are more urgent at the moment. In addition some legal requirements still need to be clarified.
To be clear: This function will not be deployed for state elections. Other cooperatives and associations have shown interest in this feature and we are open to it, but we also know our limits.
The polyPod is a software for individuals and not for organisations. Neither for parties nor for companies.
Every organisation is free to offer polyPods to its members or employees and/or to offer special features for their internal organisation.
Our technology will ensure that private life and life within an organisation are not compromised.
At the moment, however, we have only received such requests from other cooperatives.
The polyPod and the Solid Pod have some commonality. To a degree our technology is compatible; respectively we rely on similar technologies.
The main difference is that a Solid Pod does not bring its own data processing functionality. It makes the data available to other external apps. A polyPod brings the algorithms into the pod and processes the data without making it visible to the outside.
At least for now the Solid Pod is missing some elements that are required to implement legal security for citizens, for example.
Either way, Solid is a great project with which we feel closely connected.
In the long term you will be able to install an instance of the polyPod on widely used end devices. These will then synchronize so that your polyPod is always available – even if the mobile phone is off but the computer is still on.
To start, versions for Android and Apple mobile devices will appear. In the long term, versions will follow for all common desktop operating systems, entertainment systems, IoT devices and whatever else the hardware manufacturers can think of.
The polyPod helps you to recognise what data you reveal to others. But also to answer data requests in such a way that a service provider can tell what you need, but not who you are. For example, it is important for a shipping company to know your address in order to deliver parcels to you. However, other personal data such as your relationship status is irrelevant for this service.
In general this is a very complex issue. Simply explained, everyone has different identities. For example, you present yourself differently to employers than to your closest friends. Our technology takes this into account. Within the polyPod, different identities of a person are available. Each user can then freely decide to whom they show which identity and they can decide which information, in which depth, they reveal within the respective identity.
We will be publishing more details on this which will better reflect the complexity of this issue.
Yes, in general, all data transmission and synchronisation is controlled decentrally, i.e. only by the participating polyPod installations (called instances by us).
There will be a few exchanges that exist solely to help the instances connect directly to each other. This is how many common P2P protocols work. These exchanges have a central role but are themselves decentralised. So there can be many of them at the same time and they can also be operated by different participants. This is a proven technology that is widely used for the basic operation of the internet.
We have not yet decided which protocol we will use for which type of connection/communication. But for compelling reasons we do not want a central component through which data flows – even if this data is encrypted.
In other words doesn't something have to happen on their side first so that the polyPod can be used? Does an interface to the polyPod have to be implemented?
No. This is not necessary in principle even if it is desirable. You as a citizen have right on your side. Every company is legally obliged to hand over all the data it has stored about you. Unfortunately, the handing over of data happens in such a way that very few people can relate to.
This is where polyPod can help you. Via your polyPod you will be able to retrieve your data. It will organize the data in a comprehensible way so everyone is able to explore and assess their personal "digital shadow".
Since the data is then with you within your polyPod, you can also make it available to other companies, provided they have your trust.
This is a very important step not only for you as a citizen, but also as an employee and taxpayer. By requesting your data, you are bringing them back into the European legal and economic framework. This automatically strengthens the European economy because no data trader or data monopolist can come between you as a customer and the European economy. Additionally, all digital services that you use via the polyPod are provided in Europe. The consequence is that they must also be taxed in Europe.
Step by step, the supremacy of the big data silos is thus diminished. This creates a market pressure forcing big data monopolists to adapt to the rules of the European market.
Not at all in the beginning. Health data is a very sensitive asset that needs to be handled with extreme caution. This market is rightly highly regulated and we are not yet equipped to tackle this issue.
No. Blockchain is a different technology for which there is currently no meaningful use in our country. But later on there will certainly be places where blockchain or related technologies will play a role.
Of course, the data on the phone remains encrypted so a finder cannot read it.
There are several options for backing up your polyPod – including all data – so in the event of a device loss, the data is preserved.
The simplest option is to synchronise the polyPod over several instances (e.g.: also on your own PC) so that you always have several copies of the data on your devices.
In future there will be further options, such as a social backup – families or close friends can form a group. Within this group, each member makes part of their storage space available for the encrypted storage of data from other group members.
...and store data on the end devices if it is so much cheaper?
Their business model is currently based on the fact that they are the only ones who store your data. Of course this means that they could develop a pod themselves. But currently they have no reason to do so. It also goes against their business interests, at least in part.
They would certainly not accept it if you – as a Telekom customer – could not send an SMS to a Vodafone customer. However, the operators of the large social networks are currently acting the same way. You can't simply communicate between the networks and you can't switch and take your friends with you. This creates pressure for you to go to a certain provider and stay with them, because you want to be where your friends are.
For this reason, there is no reason for social network operators to support independent technologies where you can operate across platforms or even switch. Since the business models are based on the ownership of data, it would be counterproductive for the operators to develop such a technology themselves – especially not one that belongs to the users.
This only affects a small amount of data. For example due to accounting obligations and the like. Roughly speaking, this applies to 2-5% of the data in normal business transactions.
Currently we are working on labelling this data separately within the polyPod so that it is transparent and comprehensible for you.
The challenge here is that it can be different data from country to country and from business case to business case. A nut that is not easy to crack. We already know how we want to crack it, but it will take some time until we have implemented the solution within the polyPod.
For technical reasons, all polyPod features can only send data to the Internet with your express consent. And even before installing a new feature, polyPod will inform you about how the new feature behaves: What data types it requests and what information it wants to send to the internet. As a polyPod user, you always have the last word. Secret data transmissions are excluded.
Also, we create economic incentives for companies. Companies want to secure their market position by producing products that are perfectly tailored to the needs of their customers at the lowest possible cost. Our technology helps them to do that.
The polyPod achieves a significantly higher data quality, firstly because the data is not distributed in different data silos, and secondly because the data quality increases due to the voluntary nature of the data. This helps companies to develop better products. At the same time, they save immense costs for the operation of servers and in the time-consuming administration of maintaining GDPR-compliant processes. This is because the data always remains on the polyPod and all necessary calculations are carried out there.
The idea behind polypoly is not just to ward off "encroaching" companies, but to offer companies incentives to do the right thing.
... Do I have to use everything in the polyPod, or do I always have to agree to use Netflix in the polyPod first?
You must actively agree to the connection of third-party providers (such as Netflix) with the polyPod through a feature at least once. Afterwards, you can choose whether you always want to be asked for further data processing, or whether you want to grant a model permission for a specific and desired behaviour for this provider. But even in this case, you can always check what data has been processed and, based on the GDPR, recall it at any time.
To address the question of whether there is already an MVP or a prototype of the polyPod, here is the YouTube link to the corresponding screencast about the polyPod and the current state of development.
This is actually even one of our core tasks and is no less a major concern and also enormously important to us. Because the way in which data is made available in an abstracted and sometimes even almost incomprehensible manner neither helps to understand nor even offers a chance for better handling of personal data. But this is exactly what we want to achieve: To present data via the polyPod in a visible and understandable way.
Yes, absolutely! This should become one of the most important core functions of the polyPod.
Of course. Once the polyPod is on the market, anyone can use it – regardless of residence or nationality. These restrictions only exist when it comes to becoming a shareholder, i.e. a member of the European Cooperative. This is, however, as said, independent of the use of the polyPod.
We have no plans to define new schematics for features, but expect to see a lot of new schematics as entire industries might need to develop their own to store the data they work with. This applies to things like insurance contracts, travel quotes, car maintenance requests, etc.
We would encourage developers to extend existing schematics in a non-proprietary way, i.e. accompanied by an open specification and with interoperability in mind. Ideally, those who build a feature around a particular data set should set the precedent and standards for storing that data.
Currently, we keep the tech stack as simple as possible, even if we have to write the same code for iOS and Android.
But in the medium term, we will certainly switch to React Native, Flutter or similar to keep the effort small. But that also depends on how much OS-specific logic is left in polyPod in the end, and how well the frameworks outside work for our purposes.
We have several pillars:
Finally and ultimately, we are striving to make profits as quickly as possible and to use part of them for further development.
We thought so at the beginning but surveys with companies have revealed a different picture.
We offer two options for critical algorithms:
In addition, companies will have the option of having particularly sensitive algorithms certified in advance and then encrypted.
They don't have to volunteer but they are legally required to contribute. Through the GDPR, they must hand over your personal data.
Whether they play a proactive role will be determined by the market. The more people use the polyPod, the more companies have a vested interest in being part of it too.
There will be several decision-making tools that build on each other:
So we don't use AI (Artificial Intelligence or Artificial Intelligence) at the moment. This is a conscious decision on our part. At the moment, we are focusing on mapping mechanisms from the normal world in the digital world – such as trust patterns.
At this point a quote, a sentence from the document on our core concepts:
"If you can't find an equivalent in the normal world for a technology or concept, or at least explain it entirely without a technical term, then it's a clear indication in our environment that it's a bad idea."
Unfortunately, this is not yet possible. However, we are working on it and will let you know on all available channels when it is ready.
Not at all. Apple is tooting the same horn as we are and we very much welcome this development. This development represents a real opportunity for polypoly, because in the best case scenario, the polyPod will be integrated into Apple's operating system and delivered directly to users' devices. Until then, it is of course still a very long way – but this option is quite conceivable. The course has already been set with this decision by Apple, but in principle.
We refer to the legal construct around polypoly as polyVerse.
The polyPedia database is a service provider for the polyPod and beyond that, as an independent product, an important component of the polypoly infrastructure. polyPedia is intended to help understand the data economy - especially that of large companies and corporations - in a better and more transparent way.
... This is where legal compliance and economic self-interest collide unchecked.
We can very well imagine that Schufa (like so many others) is not necessarily thrilled that we exist. Apart from that, many people are not really aware that Schufa is a private company that often gives the impression (whether intentionally or not, we cannot and do not want to judge that in any way) that it is an official body. Of course, they have, just like all other companies, the possibility to use our infrastructure. But in order to do so, they will have to fundamentally change the way they handle data. Perhaps they will, or perhaps an alternative to Schufa will emerge. One thing is certain: if we are successful together, Schufa will no longer be able to put its own economic interests above the GDPR.
This is not planned for the time being, but is definitely an option as soon as we have the resources not only to create these channels properly, but also to actively manage them. Since we currently only have a very small team, we are first evaluating the common alternatives to Facebook, WhatsApp and Co. In the future, however, we will certainly go a bit broader.
With the Facebook Data Importer, as part of the polyPod, the data that Facebook has collected about you can be downloaded and analysed.
The Facebook Data Importer contains detailed instructions on how to request your own data set from Facebook and make it available in polyPod. Currently, the Facebook Data Importer shows summaries and initial analyses, for example, how many people you have networked with and a general overview of your own activities on Facebook itself.
In subsequent versions, there will then also be a detailed tool to explore the data in detail; friend lists and advertisers included.
The Facebook data that is loaded into the polyPod with the Facebook Data Importer naturally contains all this specific information. In the first step, however, we only use it to generate some interesting summaries and initial analyses. This includes, for example, how many people you have connected with and a general overview of your activities in Facebook.
In subsequent versions, there will also be a detailed tool to explore the data in more detail, down to the exact friend list, known advertisers, etc.
In addition to our digital twin, various so-called shadow profiles of us are circulating on the web. These are created, for example, by telecommunications companies through our smartphones using movement data.
Basically, it is rather difficult to find out what companies know about us, because legally we cannot request our shadow data. polypoly wants to change this and is already in close exchange with the EU to adapt the legal basis accordingly.
Unfortunately, the situation is very similar with Facebook. To really find out what data Facebook has about us, we would probably not be able to avoid creating an account. Otherwise, we would have to somehow prove that this shadow profile really belongs to us, and Facebook will hardly voluntarily admit what personal data is available about someone who does not even have a Facebook account.
Yes, we have to build an individual importer for every social media platform. However, parts of the previously built importers can be reused, so that it becomes faster and easier each time and we can virtually build on the experience and the source code that has already been created.
Basically, polypoly consists of three entities: The Cooperative, The Foundation and The Enterprise. The Cooperative looks after the interests of citizens, The Foundation works with governments and civil servants, and The Enterprise looks after the interests of companies. So we are active in all areas of society.
At the political level, we advise governments and do a lot of lobbying. We have regular talks with politicians and officials, especially when it comes to becoming independent from China and the US, and we advise on how to make personal data in and from Europe more secure.
In addition, polypoly is already actively working with the German government on solutions, such as with the Health-X dataLOFT project, which is based on Gaia-X.
We are also in talks with various large corporations, creating awareness of the problem and the urgency to act. With their support, we can also spread the message to their network and also to the government.
A brief explanation before we answer the question:
ROT data: The abbreviation stands for „redundant, obsolete and trivial“, i.e. for data that exists several times, is not needed for other reasons and is therefore worthless.
Dark data: Dark data is unclassified, i.e. unused data whose content and use is unknown.
Clean data: Data that is indispensable for the economic survival and growth of a company.
To answer the question: Our digital twin is stored (redundantly) by many companies. Often this data is flawed and has a short half-life. Companies spend millions of Euros every year to update their data - with more or less success.
The reduction of ROT data and dark data, or the conversion into clean data, works automatically with the polyPod, because the polyPod – with the permission of the user – always delivers the current data and it is reduced significantly to store data at the company.
For more information about data sustainability, please click here.
polypoly will provide these, but there will also be others who offer the appropriate framework to use the polyPod.
The polyPod is a classic data wallet and a virtual server. It runs silently in the background, stores data on its own end device and runs algorithms that have already been approved.
In the future, there will be apps that can address the polyPod, as well as features from banks, insurance companies and other companies that, with the permission of the user, can make evaluations on the polyPod without fetching the user's data from their end devices.
No, because everyone can use their own devices to install the polyPod on them. The polyPod will be available as software for all common devices, starting with smartphones with the common operating systems, desktop versions up to game consoles and cars.
The various end devices on which the polyPod is installed will communicate with each other via a network. Personal data will only be transferred between the devices; no data will be stored on servers.
Currently (as of autumn 2021), the Cooperative and polypoly Enterprise GmbH are financed as follows:
Is partly financed by the membership fees of the shareholders (€5 per share). Half of the membership fees are set aside for legal reasons, and we can work with the other half.
Unfortunately, we receive virtually no state funding for the cooperative, as cooperatives are automatically excluded from state funding.
polypoly Enterprise GmbH:
Is financed by several private investors who have founded polypoly. Part of the investment is lent to the cooperative in the form of subordinated loans to cover its costs.
In addition, we have set up an industry crowd-funding mechanism for polypoly Enterprise GmbH, where companies can participate with a sum of € 1 million.
Currently (as of autumn 2021), a total of 30 people are permanently employed at polypoly – i.e. at the cooperative, Enterprise GmbH and the foundation – plus freelancers and partners. However, our team is constantly growing, after all, there is a lot to do.
The polypoly board of directors is elected for 6 years. A minimum number of members is stipulated in the statutes. The number can be increased accordingly.
Before a new election, positions can be advertised, but according to the statutes they do not have to be. If a new position were to be advertised, then the board of directors would take care of creating a job advertisement and conduct interviews with the applicants. The board could then propose a candidate to the general assembly. The general assembly decides whether or not to proceed with the election. At the general assembly, each member has one vote, irrespective of the number of shares the member owns.
We have included in our statutes the possibility of a virtual general assembly including virtual voting. It will take some time until the polypoly cooperative has several million members. Until then, there will be the membership feature in polyPod and the technical possibilities for a virtual vote.
The multiplier concept is designed to attract many members to the cooperative. polypoly works together with cooperatives that have a large number of members as part of this concept. These cooperatives give special capital to polypoly SCE and receive membership vouchers in return. The multiplier cooperative issues a voucher to each of its members. The members can then redeem them at polypoly and become members.
Companies that make the polyPod available to their customers, can use the functionalities of the polyPod as follows:
As a data wallet: Customers can - if they wish - import their personal data from external platforms and then make it available to the companies.
As a virtual server: Algorithms sent by the companies can - if the customers agree - be executed on the polyPod in order to evaluate the data on the customers' end devices.
As a feature store: Companies can make features and services available directly in the polyPod app in order to open up new data-based business models. Customers are free to decide whether they want to use them.
Customer loyalty plus: Instead of giving money to expensive third-party service providers, companies can offer their customers a digital income as an incentive and thus strengthen their loyalty to the company.
With the polyPod, companies achieve higher added value at lower costs, because they can receive high-quality data insights directly from their customers instead of via data silos of intermediaries. In addition, the customer data and the data insights generated through their analysis are GDPR-compliant. Since the data does not have to be stored on a server, but remains with the customers, the costs for storing and managing customer data are saved.
The customers of the companies that use the polyPod benefit from the protection of their privacy and a digital income.
In the future, users will have various opportunities to earn money with the polyPod, e.g. by renting out the unused computing power of their end devices, participating in company surveys or correcting their own data that a company (e.g. bank or insurance company) has stored of them in return for an incentive.
The polyPod also has another benefit: people can switch between services (e.g. streaming service) and take their preferences directly with them through the polyPod. This way, the new service does not have to re-adjust to the customers.
Multi Brand is a service for the polyPod offered by polypoly to corporations that have several brands. With Multi Brand, a corporation can close the data silos between its brands in a GDPR-compliant manner and significantly reduce the costs for maintaining customer data.
Customer data from the different sources, channels and touchpoints of a corporation are difficult to merge. The differences in the respective processes, systems and interfaces are too great. Even if it is possible to synchronise all customer databases with a great deal of effort, the GDPR stands in the way, because customer data may not be shared across brands, even if the companies behind the brands belong to one corporation.
This is how Multi Brand works: The customers of a corporation download the free polyPod, which is provided by the corporation, onto their end device and pull their data from the respective data silos of the corporation. In this way, a detailed data set of the customer is created, across departments and companies. Customers can automatically add data from third-party providers, such as social media platforms, and correct data - e.g. an incorrect billing address. Data can be released across the corporation via the integrated consent management.
The corporation can access the data across the group and in compliance with the GDPR, and incentivise customers for their cooperation by means of vouchers, micropayments, etc.
polypoly offers Data Cleaning for companies that want to bring their customer database up to date and save costs at the same time. The process of keeping a customer database in good quality is time-consuming, cost-intensive and error-prone. Valuable customer data is lost because addresses or telephone numbers have changed and even small spelling mistakes mean that invoices, mailings or important information do not reach the customers.
This is how Data Cleaning works: The customers of a company download the free polyPod to their end device via an integrated download feature. The company sends the customers their respective data record from the customer database to the polyPod, where the customers check their data record, correct it if necessary and then send it back to the company. The company can then access the data in compliance with the GDPR and incentivise the customers for their cooperation by means of vouchers, micropayments, etc.
Not as far as we know. There are approaches here and in other parts of the world that have a few things in common with our idea but their tech approach differs a lot (December 2021).
The government of algorithms is under full control of the user of the polyPod. Only those algorithms are allowed to run on the polyPod that have been approved by the user.
To help the user to make decisions regarding the algorithms, polypoly provides tools, as for example settings to automate decisions and trust patterns. Automated decisions come into use if there is for example a company, bank or insurance which the polyPod user trusts completely. Algorithms sent by them can be given automatic approval to run on the polyPod.
Trust patterns are very useful if it comes to topics the polyPod user does not know so much about. In this case the polyPod user can select the settings of an expert or friend he / she trusts and use it for his / her own polyPod.
Algorithms will be executed in a sandboxed environment, they do not have any direct contact to the outside world while running on the polyPod and polypoly has additionally disabled some of the features of the programming language to further enhance safety. In addition, algorithms have to declare what they do and the polyPod user has to agree to them.
Down the line, the polypoly Cooperative will offer a validation service for the testing of algorithms. polypoly will describe what happens to the peronal data of the polyPod user if the algorithms run on the polyPod.
The functionality of the interfaces used by the polyPod are stored in the polyPedia. The polyPedia is a database containing information about thousands of companies. There, companies can update their data such as information about APIs themselves.
So the polyPod does not have to be updated in such cases. Instead, the software loads these changed API descriptions always up-to-date from polyPedia.
Contrary to the common belief, ones personal data does not need as much storage space as one might think. Pictures and videos are of course taking up a lot of storage space but the only thing that is relevant here regarding personal data is the meta data. The important personal data of a person only require about 100 - 200 MB of memory space.
In the future, we will also offer a solution that makes it possible to run algorithms on more of your private end devices. Devices that have even more storage space than your smartphone, for example.
polyPedia is a database that stores information about the data behaviour of players in the global data economy. We want to map how data flows of from individual natural persons who generate data, to legal entities that gather and process it whether they be companies of different kinds, governments or NGOs. The vast majority of legal entities are transparent (at least to some extent) about the data they gather and one important aspect of polyPedia is monitoring Privacy Policies and the Terms & Conditions entities publish themselves. Because people usually don't read policies, they often don't know about the data gathering practices of the entities they interact with, even though they are subject to them. polyPedia will be the place to come and check what a product or service requires a user to give up in terms of data & privacy in order to use that product or service. So the overall mission of polyPedia is to make the data economy transparent.
Over time we hope to expand polyPedia to such an extent that it allows anyone to truly see where their data could end up. In the meantime, the polyPedia database will inform polyPod features that enable us to tell informative data stories to Pod users.
Later iterations will enable citizens to submit requests and research to polyPedia, working in a similar way to Wikipedia. This will make sure polyPedia remains up to date and wide reaching, beyond what our internal research team can offer.
GAIA-X is a large European project whose goal is the development of a European and privacy-conscious cloud infrastructure.
HEALTH-X dataLOFT is a sub-project of GAIA-X, which aims to enable the networking of centralized and decentralized systems in the healthcare sector. One example is to network the digital health record with other systems. polypoly, together with other participants such as IBM and the Fraunhofer Institute, is developing the user interface for HEALTH-X dataLOFT, in which users can decide, for example, which health data they want to share with which company.