Daily Telegraph Interview CitizenMe

Daily Telegraph Interview CitizenMe 1024 566 Greer Hahn

CitizenMe was in the Daily Telegraph on Friday, an excerpt is below and the full article is here. Thanks to  for the interview and asking such great questions.

On June 9, serial entrepreneur StJohn Deakins will launch a new platform, CitizenMe, which will not only allow consumers to see all the data held about them by online companies, in a way that is easy to digest, but also let them control and shape that data profile – and even start making cash from it.

This information can range from credit ratings to buying habits. Consumers will be able to check out exactly what advertisers see when they buy their data from digital agencies.

CitizenMe goes beyond simply crunching vast data sets. Working in tandem with Cambridge University, the start-up also draws psychometric conclusions from that data. Users can find out how “angry” their tweets appear, what religious or political beliefs are suggested by their LinkedIn profile, or what IQ is suggested by their Facebook interactions.

The Snowden revelations have created the perfect conditions for a company such as CitizenMe to launch, he says. “Snowden made people think about what happens to their data. We’re in the middle of a transition from an industrial society to an information society, and people now understand the implications.”

CitizenMe will charge subscribers “a few pounds” a month for visibility and control of their personal data. However, if they choose to earn cash from data transactions, the service is free but takes a 10pc fee on all transactions.

The service aims to generate “millions of pounds” for digital citizens within two years.

According to Deakins, once consumers understand what data are available about them, commercialising it is the next logical step. “The advertising industry needs that data to serve relevant ads,” he explains. “And it is those ads that keep the internet free. If we want to maintain the current ubiquity of access to internet content and services, we have to accept that advertising needs to exist.”

Deakins warns that if companies don’t work together to rebuild consumer trust, the online sharing ecosystem will suffer. “People will become more cynical, and share less. There are already 100m ad-blocking servers in use worldwide. That’s damaging the online economy.”

To maintain a free and fair web, the market has to drive change, he adds. “80pc of the world’s population will be ‘digitised’ over the next five to 10 years. Let’s make sure that this digital citizenry is empowered.”

Photo credit: Nicolai Bernsten

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