A coup with your personal data

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By Prashant Vadgaonkar (TECHTRONIKS)

Published: Sat 22 Mar 2014, 8:45 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 10:18 PM

It is no secret that the revenue models for large web sites which supposedly offer services for free, is based on targeted marketing and promotions based on the users’ profile. The humungous amount of personal data captured typically comprises of personal data, demographic information, areas of interests, past buying and selling patterns of previous transactions.

This information which is nothing short of a treasure chest to the prospective marketing agencies is indeed being sold rampantly to the advertisers. Lead websites such Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn or social networking site such as Facebook dish out specific ads which are customised and tailored on the user profiles and all the relevant captured data thereby making their promotional campaigns focused and razor sharp.

The personal information, which is actually proprietary in a sense, is not personal anymore since it is being shared across. Wouldn’t it be logical and rational if one’s personal data is available at his or her control and custody or, even better, if one could be actually “paid” for one’s personal information? It will be fair play if one is duly compensated for selling his own data for a price. This is exactly what a US based start-up promises — it allows you track your information and enables you to trade your data for cash!

NewYork based start-up Datacoup is on a mission to empower the user and “democratise” personal data. DataCoup floated by CEO Matt Hogan, intends to equip the consumer to control and distribute data at his or her discretion in a personal data marketplace.

DataCoup provides some interesting features wherein one can decide if he or she wishes to sell data to a particular buyer, selectively pick and choose which data elements he or she wants to sell, provides graphical dashboards to be able to visualize the data elements available at ones’ disposal for sale, provides 256 bit AES encryption for the data and actually pays the end user by way of sales proceeds!!

The modus operandi is as follows. To start with the company which is in the process of identifying potential data purchasers intends to buy the data themselves, for now. The Datacoup app only extracts information from sites and accounts which are authorised by the user which could include social networking, commercial and financial websites. This data will be scrubbed and cleansed to remove personal elements and references such as email ids, names and other critical data points. The data is then aggregated with that of other users so it can never be traced to any individual. Datacoup makes monthly disbursements to the users through secure transactions. Currently, Datacoup allows data to be picked up from Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google +, Instagram, YouTube, FourSuqare, Tumblr and Flickr websites. The company which calls itself the “personal data exchange” received a seed funding of $440,000 in 2013 will pay its users $8 per month for access to data from sites Facebook, Twitter and credit and debit card transactions. The start-up which eventually will sell the information to companies is in the process of Beta testing with about 1,500 users signed up for the trial.


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