Privacy Audit - Who and Why?
Like all good start-up stories, ours begins with the desire to make something simpler and more accessible. But unlike most good stories, it begins with the law.
In 2017, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was slowly becoming a hot topic. Many companies were starting to prepare for the regulation and were concerned about the impact it would have on their work. Much of the media’s attention was on the potential consequences for non-compliance and advice as to how to companies could ensure compliancy.
It was then that it occurred to Mikhail Podlasov (our founder) that little attention was being paid to the impact this would have on everyday people. The GDPR was revolutionary in the rights that it granted to EU citizens, but how simple would it be for them to actually exercise these rights? Given the frequent mishandling of personal data, to what extent would companies actually comply with people’s requests regarding their data? How much time and effort would it take the average person to navigate the process of viewing or deleting their data?
Thus, the idea was born – help everyday people exercise their rights under the GDPR and protect their online privacy.
From there, our project grew rapidly. It was accepted and given a place within the Kaspersky Lab’s incubator. Less than a year later, our first product was launched – an automated search for people’s personal data on public websites. In 2018, our team shared this product and our ambitious plans with companies and individuals around the world at the annual Web Summit. In early 2019, we also attended the Computer, Privacy and Data Protection conference.
As the project grew, so did our ambitions and mission. In a world where personal data is constantly being mishandled and over 70% of companies are still failing to address GDPR requests, we realized that our mission is not only about empowering individuals to protect their personal data. Our mission is also to make the process of data collection and procession more transparent. We want individuals to clearly know who is using their data, as well as why and how they are using it. Thus, we decided that in the future we will start issuing regular reports about how well companies comply with requests sent through us, how long each company takes to respond, etc.
Of course, none of this would be have been possible without our amazing team. Currently, our team consists of nine people: our founder (Mikhail), five developers (Alexander, Valeria, Ksenia, Ivan and Dmitry), a data scientist (Sergey), a marketing manager (Kirill), and a community manager (Kira). Whether it’s through marketing campaigns or improvements to our audit system, each member of Privacy Audit’s team helps bring the world closer to the internet of tomorrow.
Unsurprisingly, each of us has grown as a result of the project as well. For instance, prior to working at Privacy Audit, Sergey did not give too much thought to the fact that so many people register the same usernames across every website they use, which makes them highly trackable. Kira, despite working in social media, did not realize the full extent to which Facebook had information about everyone, including those who never even had accounts. And Valeria began to find answers to her philosophical questions regarding the ways in which an average person can balance their privacy with the convenience of the Internet.
Of course, our story does not end here.
Whereas 2018 was a year of new beginnings for us, 2019 is set to be a year of rapid growth. Earlier this year, we published a blog post that set our plans for the year. This spring, we are releasing a number of new tools this year, including the deletion tool. We also plan to make our tools available in other countries (outside of the UK) and go mobile this year.