Ctrl Shift

Take back your privacy – Get Some Gusto

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“In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” Al Gore

I read an interesting article on research-live today about a YouGov study that indicates that over 30% of people in the UK have deleted apps on their phone due to worries that their information is being sold or over-used.

It makes me ask myself if Europe is ahead of the curve not only in individuals concerns over privacy but more importantly the movement to get consumers to take control of their data.  When researching online I find much more information coming from organisations like Mydex or Ctrl-Shift who are based in the UK; not to mention European data protection laws being the most stringent in the world.

I was at an entrepreneur event in North Carolina last week and was speaking to company who had developed a PIMS app (personal information management services).  This app acts like a broker for individuals who wish to sell their own personal information which is collected passively on their phone.  It also gives the individual the ability to decide what  information can and cannot be sold which would automatically adjust the overall value.  A very smart tool that gives the individual complete transparency, control and reward.  The problem is the chicken and the egg; do you build a crowd of people before you have clients to sell the data to, only to risk losing them because there is no one bidding for their data?  Or do you need the client investment first which is hard considering you don’t have anything to sell yet?

There needs to be more gusto from the consumer in order for this to be solved, and this requires education about our privacy and what is currently happening with our data.  With this knowledge will come the customer desire for change, as the customer changes so too does the industry.

This is where I see the UK, quite frankly, kicking some butt in terms of education and forward thinking.  If I am wrong and you are aware of more high profile agencies in the Americas I would love to hear about them.

 

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Digitize Me – pass the control

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So getting started isn’t that easy.  I searched online for ‘Personal Information Management Services’, ‘Data Management Systems’ and ‘Choice Systems’ all threw up a lot of unrelated sites like boat engines, property registries and data warehouse storage.

There were two organisations that I have previously looked into, Mydex and Ctrl Shift  and both offer  good data management services as well as good information. I contacted them for some help.

Ctrl Shift replied with a really interesting paper, ‘Personal Information Management Services: An Analysis of an Emerging Market’.  I will go into more detail about their analysis in my next post but for the ‘Digitize Me’ diary I just wanted to highlight that it included a solid list of PIMS.  What surprised me was the variety of services offered and how specific they were :-

  • Mobile phone usage
  • Group buying service for insurance
  • Car sharing
  • Price comparisons for energy
  • Insights into browser behaviour with options to sell your data
  • Healthcare
  • Privacy management
  • Data management
  • Expenses management
  • Financial dashboards
  • Spending monitors

I went into this thinking I can manage ALL (or at least most) of my data in one place.

All of these are tailored to particular life areas which makes sense but doesn’t that still fragment our data?  It did however, give me a pause to reflect on what I wanted to manage and control.  The main three for me are 1- secure storage and management of my personal data 2 – Insight into my browser behaviour with the option to sell my data and 3 – ability to block companies that I don’t want to track me.  Ideally all of these would be under one umbrella but this is still a new industry.

I have now signed up to two PIMS.  My first choice was with Mydex who had a great vision, mission and values, it is essentially a service to manage my life with a personal data system.  Basically it puts all my information into one place to manage my life better.  Yup this seems wonderful – it can manage my life better!  or realistically it will save me time searching for my personal information and future form filling.  I haven’t yet tried all the applications and reports available on the site but my basic data is now stored and secure.

My second choice was Ghostery who offers three things – alerts to web bugs, pixels and beacons (tracking tools)  in the pages I am browsing.  An education of the companies that implement these trackers on my pages, and the ability to block any of these companies from accessing my data.

It is worth mentioning that both these services are absolutely free.  Ghostery is very open on how it makes money which is through donations of data from those who subscribe.  The data donated is purely data on trackers, such as where the customer found them, the position of them on the page, URL etc.

My next step will be to sign up for PIMS that monitors and gives insight into my browser behaviour; but wouldn’t it be great if all of these services were linked and I just had to go to one place to manage all of it?

Also if anyone knows of any PIMS based in Canada please let me know!