Mine ⎯ Helping Consumers Take Control of Their Digital Footprint

Mine ⎯ Helping Consumers Take Control of Their Digital Footprint

Written by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated September 2, 2020

Sharing personal and even financial information online has become almost second nature to most Canadians. But when it comes to protecting our data and privacy, most of us have no idea where to start. This is where Mine can help. A digital platform that helps consumers take control of their digital footprint. 

We spoke with the team behind Mine about why Canadians should be concerned about their digital footprint and how they can protect themselves from online exposure. 

Let’s start at the beginning, what is Mine and where did the idea come from?

Mine is a smart data assistant that enables digital users to discover and manage their data and continuously reduce their online exposure. 

We are three co-founders at Mine who have known each other for many (5-15) years. When we sat together (mid-2017) to think about what we wanted to solve and bring to the world, we quickly realized that all of us REALLY understand personal data and privacy. We dealt with data throughout our entire career, from different angles, whether during our cybersecurity offensive background in the elite 8200 intelligence unit in the Israeli army or from the consumer background from companies like King (the developer of CandyCrush).

We truly understand how valuable and precious our data is to each of us, and how easily it can be used against us. In an era where every day you hear about a new data breach or a privacy scandal, we wanted to create a solution that would empower consumers worldwide to be digitally safer online. 

And then, at the end of 2017, we saw the GDPR being legislated and come into force later in 2018. We were amazed by the regulation as it changed the history of the internet, by defining consumer data as a personal asset and putting powerful rights in place. Later on, when traveling all over Europe, we asked people in the street whether they used the GDPR or heard about it, and quickly realized that this regulation wouldn’t be accessible to the mass market without the right product that would make data rights accessible to everyone. We developed an MVP, showcased the technology, brought a couple of hundreds of users, worked with them to refine the product, did market research and competitive analysis, raised our seed round, and the rest is history.

Can you explain what a digital footprint is? 

On a day-to-day basis, we use online services and enjoy the wonderful online world. But through these experiences, we leave behind hundreds of digital traces, bits of information about us that are collected by companies. Your digital footprint is the trail of personal data traces you leave behind every time you interact with a digital service. This includes different data types, such as your name, email address, phone number, credit card information, social security number, etc.  Not only can your footprint give others huge insight into your lives, but they can also be used against you.

What type of data does Mine help consumers reclaim?

Mine helps consumers reclaim all personal data from companies that they don’t longer use or want to keep. The types of data can be categorized into four main groups according to the kind of data that companies hold: financial data, identity data, online behavior data, and social data. Financial data can include; your credit card number+expiration date and CVV, your billing address, digital wallet details, etc. Identity data can be anything that allows companies to validate your identity that is more than just your name and email address. Examples are;  your home address, date of birth, phone number, passport, ID, etc. With online behavior, it can be your internet browsing history, location, used devices, shopping patterns, reactions, clicks, etc. And finally, social network data may be your contacts and family info, relationship mapping, conversations, preferences, photos, videos, etc. 

How does Mine find the companies that are holding the data of an individual?

By connecting a person’s primary email with Mine, we can help them discover their digital footprint and understand which companies are holding what data to decide where to keep their data. Starting with the person’s email history, Mine identifies 90% of the companies that have collected the user’s personal data, based on the subject lines in their inbox. Our AI then independently locates these companies’ privacy policies to determine what kinds of information they’re storing. Mine does this without reading or collecting any of the user’s emails. 

Can a company refuse to remove the data of an individual? 

The right to privacy is a fundamental right in jurisdictions worldwide. In many cases, companies are subject to local laws (such as the GDPR) that provide consumers with the right to erasure a.k.a. The Right-To-Be-Forgotten. However, there are some exceptions to these regulations, such as health and financial companies that are obligated to keep certain types of information for legal/auditing purposes (e.g., anti-money laundering laws, etc.). Additionally, in cases where there aren’t applicable laws requiring to respond favorably to such requests, it is becoming a common standard and an important part of customer experience to respect the customer’s privacy and enhance trust in one’s brand.

What can consumers expect when going through the process of removing their personal data from companies and services they no longer use? Is there any information they should prepare ahead of time?

To reclaim your data from a company, one has to send the relevant company an official data subject request (DSR). Mine makes it easy for users to send an automatic email that initiates the deletion request directly to the company from their inbox. Some companies might complete the erasure request in one-go and simply confirm it via email. In contrast, others might ask questions and for more information (such as type of account or date of signing up) in order to identify the user and validate the request. Users are updated and can track the status of their requests in the Mine app.

Is there a specific type of consumer who would benefit most from Mine or should all Canadians be worried about their digital footprint?

We believe that Data Ownership is a fundamental human right that must be accessible to everyone. That’s why we help consumers everywhere to minimize their online exposure and risks so they can continue to live their life and enjoy the internet as usual.  

Why is protecting your digital footprint so important in today’s online world?

There’s no such thing as zero risks on the internet. Data breaches happen all the time, and it’s impossible to avoid sharing your personal information if you want to watch, shop, travel, date, or do anything at all, both offline and online. By keeping control of your digital footprint and limiting the amount of unnecessary data that you share, you can avoid digital risks while still enjoying the online world’s benefits. 

Rating of 5/5 based on 7 votes.

Caitlin is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security. One of the main ways she’s built good financial habits is by budgeting and tracking her spending through the YNAB budgeting app. She also automates her savings so she never forgets to put aside a portion of her income into her TFSA. She believes investing and passive income is key to earning financial freedom. She also uses her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect Aeroplan points so that she can save money when she travels.

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