Israeli start-up Privacy Rating’s ambitious challenge:
“The innovative approach we have developed to protect privacy
will shift the balance of power online in users’ favor”
The size and superiority of internet giants create a state of monopoly in markets, stifle competition and raised prices.
“The increasing awareness of the need to control traffic of private data over open networks will cause the privacy communications protocol we have developed to become a worldwide standard within a few years,” predicts Yossi Koren, co-founder and CEO of Privacy Rating. “Based on artificial intelligence and advanced encryption methods, Privacy Rating allows users to define for themselves the flow of private information to others, regardless of the desires of the digital service providers.”
The development of the Internet, its penetration into every home in developed world and spread into hundreds of millions of homes in emerging countries, has given internet goliaths unprecedented power. The technological superiority of these companies is so overwhelming that it prevents any competition in their areas of control The invasion of corporations such as Google and Facebook into our private domain is expected to grow even more in the future, with the use the Internet of Things, autonomous cars, smart homes, and similar technologies. .
The internet superpowers follow not only our keystrokes; they diligently collect sensitive personal data about us, without us being able to resist it. They follow us by using tools in other sites, not necessarily on their own applications or websites. Few people realize that Google and Facebook plant tools in other sites and apps that may track eye movements on the screen using your device’s camera, and can listen to background noise where you are. They are intimately familiar with your browsing history, contacts list and more. The information collected is used to direct us, the consumers, to deals – sometimes unplanned – that yield maximum profit, and are not necessarily the best offered in the market. The knowledge about our buying, consumption and entertainment habits accumulated by the internet empires is translated into influence on these habits and our decisions. This effect is exploited in a way that generates billions of dollars – from our pockets.
The technology giants of the 21st century do not need cartels, threats or violence to gain total market control. They created a seemingly logical equation: “Users receive a free service from us and in exchange, with their consent, we gather information about them while they interact with us.” However, most personal information is collected indirectly through the tracking tools in third party sites and apps, regardless of the service provided. When registering on each site, users sign to consent to this external collection. Most users do not read these cumbersome terms and conditions, and the few who bother to look at the contract discover the “take it or leave it,” policy applies with no possibility of modifications.
Some are aware of this situation, but are indifferent. “I have nothing to hide,” they say, “and as long as Google and Facebook don’t intrude into my bedroom – let them gather whatever information about me which they want.” They are not aware, however, that through some borderline illegal psychological methods and manipulations, their personal data is exploited in a way which reduces and even prevents competition., getting biased perspective and some even claim that they jeopardise democratic regimes.
Regulatory systems across the developed world are considering ways to address this problem. Recently, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager imposed an unprecedented $2.7 billion fine on Google for its systematic use of search engine manipulations to redirect users to its own price comparison services. But the technological capabilities of the regulators hardly challenge giants, who enjoy absolute technological superiority in collecting personal information. However, there are clear signs of a change in users’ attitudes towards invasions into their privacy domain. It is reasonable to assume that this awareness of the problem and consequent demands for its solution will intensify in the near future.
To date, almost all existing solutions have been based on granting access to a third party which would either regulate the user’s computer or smartphone according to predetermined parameters, or alternatively manage private information from within the service provider’s own digital database. But a question arises: Who will guard the guards? Furthermore, while one user may be interested in preventing internet companies from accessing their private information, another will judge the advantages of providing them partial access as outweighing the disadvantages, and so a blanket solution that satisfies one user will be unacceptable to the other.
The innovative, radical solution offered by Israeli start-up Privacy Rating completely frees users from the need to deposit their private information in the hands of a third party, and instead manages the traffic of private information online, thus enabling – or preventing – indirect access to them.
Privacy Rating’s founders believe that privacy is a fundamental right to which everyone is entitled. “I am concerned by the steep decline in privacy, the rampant exploitation of our private information by huge companies for commercial purposes without our permission, and the constant gathering of private and sensitive data about us,” says Yoav Finkelstein, who is leading business development activities for the company.
“The system we developed does not read, store or analyze the user’s private information”, emphasizes Jonathan Wasserman, founding partner and chief technology officer of the enterprise, . “It enables blocking – or allowing – third party access to private information, according to the user’s settings, without the system needing access to the information itself, and without requiring prior technological knowledge. Most importantly, it is not dependent on the service provider’s wishes.”
According to product manager Gilad Margolin, “the increased awareness of the need to manage and monitor traffic of private data to external parties online could lead to the adoption of our privacy communications protocol within a few years as a global standard for managing privacy over open networks”.
The unique solution offered by Privacy Rating – based on artificial intelligence for information analysis, advanced encryption technologies, and sophisticated routing and synchronization tools – creates a system that is immune to cookies and indirect collection tools and simultaneously does not diminish the user experience at all. It is therefore suitable for both individuals and for sensor-based systems such as autonomous vehicles, smart homes and more.
“I see privacy as a battlefield in which a campaign is being conducted to preserve the digital independence of internet user,” says Yossi Koren, co-founder and CEO. “As a strategist, my aim is to shift the balance of power from the new digital empires to the users. Our technology serves as a toolbox for the user’s benefits, thereby effecting a change in the rules of the game in the online universe.”