Personal secures $7.6M to secure your data

Ronny Kerr · January 7, 2011 · Short URL:

Essentially casting itself as the anti-Facebook, Personal has grand plans to return control to users

personalDear everybody who has ever complained about Facebook invading user privacy: this is your kind of company.
Personal, a new startup working to return control of personal data to the user, announced Thursday that it has closed $7.6 million in Series A round financing, co-led by Grotech Ventures and Steve Case's Revolution LLC with participation from media investment bank Allen & Company and Eric Semler of TCS Capital Management.  
The service, which is still an invitation-only beta, casts itself as a private network, directly in contrast to social networks.
Facebook has often been criticized for making certain features opt-out by default instead of opt-in, a philosophy that generally favors sharing publicly versus sharing privately. For example, a long-standing complaint from users has been that there’s no way to withhold tags in photos, until the tagged user has approved, before being made visible to friends. While such a philosophy may have proved instrumental in making Facebook one of the most popular photo sharing sites on the Web, some, including the team behind Personal, don’t think it necessarily serves the best interests of users.
Beyond potential privacy invasions on the actual site, though, Facebook’s social graph has literally begun to permeate throughout the entire Web, opening the doors to tracking by advertisers and third-party publishers.
"People have been told they must accept online tracking as a tradeoff for keeping their favorite websites and mobile apps free, but they are surprised at how invasive this tracking has become and just how valuable their data is to these companies and advertisers," said Shane Green, president and CEO of Personal.  "We aim to fundamentally turn the tables to empower consumers to become gatekeepers of their information and, if they choose, be rewarded for granting access to it, even anonymously."
How users will be rewarded monetarily from regaining control over their personal data, the startup has yet to reveal.

Personal will use its new funding to expand testing and introduce the service to consumers in early 2011.

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