Web Privacy as a Market Opportunity

As part of its continuing series on privacy (or the lack thereof) on the web, the Wall Street Journal reports on an emerging class of entrepreneurs seeking to profit from privacy concerns.  Naturally, these start-ups are bringing an interesting wrinkle to the issue:

As the surreptitious tracking of Internet users becomes more aggressive and widespread, tiny start-ups and technology giants alike are pushing a new product: privacy.

Companies including Microsoft Corp., McAfee Inc.—and even some online-tracking companies themselves—are rolling out new ways to protect users from having their movements monitored online. Some are going further and starting to pay people a commission every time their personal details are used by marketing companies.

“Data is a new form of currency,” says Shane Green, chief executive of a Washington start-up, Personal Inc., which has raised $7.6 million for a business that aims to help people profit from providing their personal information to advertisers.

Yes, folks like Green are trying to monetize privacy.  They create a technology to shield your movements on the web from trackers (for a fee) and then charge the trackers a fee to disclose the information, while sharing the proceeds with the users whose movements they are disclosing.  Internet users get paid for something that the trackers were taking from them surreptitiously.  The privacy entrepreneurs get paid from both ends.



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