Jonathan Broder has heard plenty of anecdotes over the years about the ways companies use data, and those conversations have amplified since the EU General Data Protection Regulation made its way onto the scene.
While Broder acknowledged most data use is on the up and up, it still felt a little too invasive for his taste. The former founder and CEO of VortexLegal found the gears started to spin in his head once he was introduced to the concept of data subject access requests.
“Once I learned about DSARs and the right to request the data from these companies, I thought there’s going to be an influx of these similar to how credit reports got to be so common,” Broder said. “I think there’s a real need with the laws that have been passed to give you the right to review your data, delete it and ask to be forgotten.”
Broder said this is what motivated him to create Privsee (pronounced “privacy”), a solution built for consumers and companies to conduct all DSARs in one location. Consumers can sign up for Privsee and request their information from companies separated into five different categories: restaurants, hotels, retail, travel and entertainment, which could be anything from movie theaters to Disneyland.
Privsee is still a work in progress, Broder said. He expects the beta version of it to be launched within the next month and for a significant round of funding to be completed within the next two to three months.
There are still decisions to be made on which companies will be included in the solution. As of this writing, Privsee lists the top 80 restaurants in the U.S. and the most popular hotels in the country.
While those companies have their own portals to handle DSARs, Broder believes users do not want to fill out dozens of individual forms all over the internet to gather their information. Broder wants Privsee to be the one spot where data subjects can send out their requests, obtain their data and then decide what to do next.
“We give the user the option to immediately delete it or download it,” Broder said. “Our goal is not to be yet another source of aggregation of data.”
For the companies that receive DSARs, Broder said they would be notified about the request via an email notification. From there, the companies would log on to their own Privsee account and fulfill the inquiry. Companies will have a dashboard where they can assign the request to an internal staff member, as well as the ability to customize the results form to reflect the information they will send back.
When asked about the information companies will share with data subjects, Broder said there could be plenty of possibilities. “I think we are going to be surprised at the variety and types, and I think there is going to be a lot of stuff we don’t know about,” Broder said. “Obviously, we are going to get contact information, the basics of who they are and where they live. We are going to get transaction histories, things they’ve purchased, and hotels they’ve stayed at.”
One of the challenges will be for Privsee to attract data subjects and organizations to its platform. Broder hopes to educate internet patrons about their new rights to request their information and why they should exercise that right.
Broder said there have been talks with tech compliance companies about integration into their platforms to make it easier for companies to interact with Privsee. More importantly, Broder wants to tout how he feels Privsee can be beneficial for companies that face a deluge of DSARs.
“We want to make it easy for the companies to process these things. There’s a lot of added value in having it all in one location,” Broder said. “We are creating a program that helps do the identification so they don’t have to. There’s a lot of added benefits to streamlining what is going to be a voluminous experience for them.”
One of the features Broder seeks to have within Privsee is a page to track companies’ key performance indicators, such as the number of requests they have received and the amount of time it takes for them to respond to DSARs. Broder said this can be an important resource for consumers, the media and the government to see whether companies live up to their values. He’s just not sure companies will be as enthusiastic.
“I think a lot of companies are going to be reluctant to do this, and the smart companies are going to turn this as an advantage and use it as part of their marketing,” Broder said. “They can say how transparent and cooperative they are in sharing the data that they have versus companies that hold their cards close to the chest.”
Broder believes privacy tech will continue to experience a massive boom over the next two years, and DSAR solutions will play a big part in this surge. He said more and more companies know the “cat’s out of the bag,” and data subjects will start to knock on their doors for their information. Rather than close those doors, Broder sees a future where organizations embrace the wishes of the online consumer.
“I think companies are going to be more inclined to provide the data as opposed to fighting this all the way. What’s the benefit of fighting it? I don’t see it,” Broder said. “Everything is going to trend toward openness, disclosures and sharing than it is to closing everything off and keeping it a secret.”
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