5 Privacy-Focused Data Marketplaces

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This post is the latest in our “Pursuing Privacy” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of June, including topics like location data and ad targeting. See the rest of the series here

Photo above by Goran Ivos.

Digital privacy was a hot topic before the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation went into effect last May. Stories about data sharing scandals at Facebook and other technology companies have put consumers on alert for years.

Just 27% of adults feel like they have “some control” over how their personal data is used by mobile apps and services, according to a recent survey by Mobile Ecosystem Forum. The desire to have more say over how personal data is used is leading to a new technology vertical, as next-generation data brokers put together marketplaces where consumers can offer up their own data to brands in exchange for cash and other lucrative incentives.

Here are five examples of services that consumers are using to take control of the data they share with advertisers and keep their private information private.

1. Killi
Created by Freckle IoT founder Neil Sweeney, Killi is a mobile app that consumers can use to opt-in to trade certain pieces of their personal information with brands. In exchange for their personal information, consumers are compensated through PayPal or Amazon. Users who download Killi’s mobile app are asked if they want to enable persistent location, and they can choose precisely how much demographic data they share. When brands access their data, the consumer gets a fee and the ability to see which information was purchased. Users are also asked to complete surveys from brands in exchange for money.

2. Hu-manity.co
A technology company aiming to help the world transition to a “consumer-inclusive data economy,” Hu-manity.co is actively working to create a data marketplace for the healthcare sector. Making that mission a reality means encouraging consumers to download the #My31 mobile app. Users are asked to “claim” their property interest on inherent human data and offer up consent for privacy, authorization for permitted use, and election for compensation. In more basic terms, Hu-manity.co is working on putting together a medical data marketplace that connects data sellers (consumers) with buyers, with a mechanism that ensures its users’ data is only being used in the ways they wish.

3. Wibson
Wibson is looking to give consumers a way to anonymously sell their private information in a trusted environment. To do that, the company is relying on blockchain technology. Consumers who download the Wibson app earn tokens for sharing their data with data buyers, which include other technology platforms, advertisers, marketers, and academics. Just because a consumer downloads Wibson’s mobile app doesn’t mean he’s required to share all of his data. Data remains on users’ own devices until they decide to sell, and then the data is encrypted and transferred directly to the buyer. Consumers have the ability to decide who they’ll sell their data to, and when they want to sell it based on the market-driven offers coming from buyers.

4. BitsaboutMe
Like the other companies on this list, BitsaboutMe is all about giving consumers control over their personal data. Individuals who sign up and connect the BitsaboutMe service to their online accounts get to decide who they want to share their data with, and they can earn money when they decide to share. In the meantime, personal data is encrypted and stored in users’ devices. BitsaboutMe also has another component, which involves giving users statistics that show what their data says about them and which types of data businesses would want to buy that data. Offers for data deals come directly to users from vetted companies through BitsaboutMe’s platform.

5. openPDS
Developed by researchers at the MIT Media Lab, openPDS is a personal data store system. Users can protect their personal data, even while they allow certain app developers to access the information they need. openPDS works by giving users a way to collect data on their own phones and process that data in the cloud or offline using a system called SafeAnswers. App developers interact with the openPDS system, and the SafeAnswers system responds to queries based on the user’s settings. openPDS is unique, in that its system focuses on metadata and was designed to give people a way to use certain apps and services, without having to hand over their data in exchange for the service.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.