mydex-william-heathIn our day-to-day online lives we don’t really realise the secrets we’re giving away. Personal data service Mydex helps people realise the value of their personal information and provides them with a hyper-secure storage area so you can manage your personal data. It provides a web service to restore control over personal data to the individual.

This means people can maintain better relationships with the organisations they connect with and the applications or services they use. They can back-up their identity and claims with data they get as a by-product of the normal stuff they want to get done online.

Mydex‘s aim is to provide its service in a financially sustainable way, as a social enterprise, so it’s a win-win for individuals and for the organisations and services that connect within the Mydex Trust Framework.

We met up with William Heath, chairman of Mydex and serial entrepreneur, to find out more about why he got involved with the project and the thinking behind Mydex.

Life before Mydex

william_heath2William (pictured left) has been a musician and a journalist, and since 1990 he’s been trying to understand and influence the computerisation of public services. He co-founded Kable Ltd, which researched this change (and which sold to GNM in 2007).

From 2004 he moderated the Ideal Government multi-author blog which explored how government IT could be done better: cheaper, faster, designed for the individual and built on a foundation of trust. He’s also been active in digital rights groups such as FIPR and the Open Rights Group.

“Mydex was born out of William’s dislike of the direction that public sector IT was headed”


At the same time as co-founding Mydex, he co-founded the independent research business Ctrl-Shift Ltd, which advises on the implications of the polarity shift in customer empowerment which services such as Mydex will make possible.

Mydex is born

Mydex was born out of William’s dislike of the direction that public sector IT was headed: “Huge cost, poor quality services, a database state with a culture of embedded surveillance.”

He felt that nothing he had done over 18 years had made any difference to the problem, but he found the idea of personal control over personal data compelling.

“People were touting it as a way to solve the problems of marketing and customer-relationship management,” says William.

“But in public services it could address both the human rights and control issues of the individual, and also the problems governments were having trying to introduce personalised digital services. So it seemed a powerful and compelling idea.”

Where Mydex is now

Mydex CIC has built its live service, and won its first ten contracts. By some distance the most significant of these is ID assurance for public services, now branded by the Government Digital Service as GOV.UK Verify.



 Big hits: With Mydex CIC, GOV.UK Verify does away with the ‘computer says no’ model


“This means the UK Government has agreed to contract with individuals based on digital ID credentials held and encrypted by the individual,” William explains. “It’s a profound breakthrough towards what Tim Berners-Lee calls ‘the Web we Want'”.

“Unlike the prevailing credit agency ‘computer says no’ model, with Mydex CIC you verify yourself with data you hold yourself”


“I expect you’ll see a lot more about GOV.UK Verify in coming months. Unlike the prevailing credit agency ‘computer says no’ model, with Mydex CIC you verify yourself with data you hold yourself,” William explains.

“So if there’s any problem, any incorrect or missing data that means you’re not getting the service, this is immediately clear to you so you can do something about it if you want.”

Get involved in a hack day and more

If you’re a developer and entrepreneur Mydex offers an entire set of privacy-friendly online services to develop to help people manage their finances, health, shopping media and travel based on personal data under their control.

“Using Mydex CIC is a three-in-one solution:” says William, “ID and authentication; personalisation and preferences; storage of personal data. That will save certain developers a lot of time.

mydex_slideBecome a hacker: See what you can do with data issued with permission from people’s Personal Data Stores

“We’d like to do local hack days based on what you can do with data issued with permission from people’s Personal Data Stores (PDS).

“If you work for an organisation that uses a lot of personal data then look at the benefits of connecting directly to individuals. If you’re an individual using digital public services you’ll have a choice of five ID assurance providers. Make sure you choose Mydex CIC!

“Finally we’re still taking funding, both loan and equity, through a highly tax-efficient Mydex Bond process.”

How can you get a Mydex PDS?

Mydex CIC is a web service. You can get a Mydex Personal Data Store at

Developer resources including data schema and API description are at, and there’s a sandbox you can use to develop apps using dummy personal data at

The life/work balance

William says that there are advantages to being based in Bath or Bristol: “We’ve got good broadband. The GWR works pretty much. The quality of life stuff is important; being happy in a place is a good basis for work.

“The quality of life stuff is important; being happy in a place is a good basis for work”


“The universities and local councils are self-confident, innovative and ambitious. For example Bristol City Council is fascinating, and Bath Spa University is wonderful: a complete one-off.

“There are some truly inspiring local entrepreneurs, passionate yet accessible. One of the most successful agreed with me on this the other day but added ‘and do you know what? We’re all a bit crap, too’. So add ‘self-deprecating’.

“Perhaps the unique thing about being an entrepreneur in Bath is that one day I can sign a contract in the open air Cross Bath. I’ve got the waterproof pen and paper standing by.”

Talking of entrepreneurs, we asked who impresses William in the South West: “I guess James Dyson is the pre-eminent local entrepreneur, but I’ve not met him,” says William. “I’m a big fan of Womad and the RealWorld businesses headed by Prog God Peter Gabriel and operated by Mike Large.



Don’t give away your secrets: Mydex will help you with your data, and it keep it secure

“What Jeff Thomas has achieved at Hartham Park in Corsham with ARK and SkyScape is almost incredible, and I think there’s more to come. I find Eduserve is quietly impressive: UK-based cloud services done as a charity formed out of a consortium of Universities.

“It’s not all tech: food and drink matters too!”


“It’s not all tech though: food and drink matters too! In The Bell Co-op, Bath has an exemplary local boozer,” says William. The timely support of Michael Eavis and Robert Plant was critical to saving it from being closed down and the successful transition to a Co-operative last year.

“Given the tech sector’s deep relationship with coffee it’s good to have in Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood the UK’s number one barista, and we look forward to his new craft beer shop,” says William.

“I love all the produce from Graham Padfield’s Bath Soft Cheese company in Kelston,” William enthuses, “and I doubt there’s a better baker in the country than Bertinet.”

Death, gambling, shopping and busking

“The ‘Chronic‘ recently ran a good news story about the local economy being regenerated based on an expanding military contractor and a new casino. I take hope there’s more to the future of the local economy than death, gambling, shopping and busking,” says William.

While the South West is blessed with so many unexpected local enterprises, there is one that has struck a chord with William: A small charity called ARC based in Kelston Manor.

“Since 2001 they’ve aimed to put 15 per cent of the global economy on an environmentally sustainable footing, and they’re more than half way there. Martin Palmer who runs ARC is a man of really profound insights,” says William.

Thamydex_square_logonks to William for taking the time to talk to us. Mydex is registered as a Community Interest Company (CIC), supported by the Young Foundation which specialises in launching sustainable social enterprises. You can keep up to date with Mydex by visiting the Mydex website or following them on Twitter: @mydexcic