In the context of the increasing proliferation of personal data across a variety of devices, applications and networked information and communication infrastructures a new paradigm has been coined, next to those of Privacy and Data Protection by Design. This paradigm, named Personal Data Ecosystems (PDE), was developed by the World Economic Forum and further elaborated by e.g. the Ontario Information and Privacy Commission and by SWIFT (the Digital Asset Grid) (WEFORUM, 2012), (PRIVACY BY DESIGN, 2012), (INNOTRIBE, 2012), (PDE, 2012).

The idea is to empower data subjects with regard to the sharing of their personal data, which is increasingly becoming part of a largely invisible economy where personal data is the currency. PDE refers to an architecture that (1) returns a measure of control to the users of online and offline services that require the sharing of information, and (2) provides a measure of transparency as to who profits how from processing and sharing their data. It has already been called a game changer that will re-balance the current information asymmetries and power imbalances between data subjects and data controllers. The most cited format of DPE is that of the Personal Data Store, Locker of Vault. It entails a single point of control or secure dashboard, which allows users, consumers, citizens, data subjects to manage their personal data with something like a secure dashboard.

The idea is related to that of Vendor Relationship Management (VRM), which counterbalances the more common idea of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Though USEMP is not focused on the idea of the Personal Data Vault, it will develop a set of tools allowing users of OSNs greater control over the personal data they share within the network while also providing them with tools to enable the use of their data by entities outside the OSN, e.g. in the form of licensing agreements. In that sense USEMP will build upon the notion of PDE and may in fact assume a Personal Data Vault to provide the secure environment for effective control over the relevant data.