Privacy Unions: an idea

I have been kicking this around for a few months now.  The idea is to use a federation of software that controls  what information is shared about a user  (Ad-block, No-Script, Firefox, Tor) in combination with some sort of higher level group or organization of people that sign up-and-in by installing the software package in their browser. Lets call this a “Privacy Union.”

In rough, hand-waving terms you could use this concept/software package to strike a deal between the union and one of the many corporate entities that are interested in mining your data. There could be levels of tiered access, so that if you give away more data you would get more from the company.

What could you get? What could you possibly demand from a Google? Well for one thing you could ask them for your profile. Yeah google, tell me what you’ve got on me. Show me the “me model.” This might actually be good for something like Google, especially if you enable some kind of interactivity where the user can edit the profile to express their actual interests.

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I have recently discovered that Mozilla Labs seems to be pursuing a project that would let users share specific interests with websites. http://goo.gl/b8XqKQ

This idea is in that same direction, except it would take back some of what is already shared by users instead of giving out more. Privacy unions could be a valve on the outflow of information about you, your habits, and interests. I suppose you could volunteer more information (similar to above) to sweeten the pot.

To start (as part of the install) you could use something like Vortex a gamified tool to scramble your information http://goo.gl/UWaqvH

You could also potentially add email aliasing to the mix. The union provides you with “unlimited” email aliases that you can use to sign up for different services, make purchases etc. So when emails come back to you via that alias you know who sold your information. (not sure exactly how to work this last part in)

Browsing history, search profiles, purchase history, contacts, posts, etc. This information, in aggregate, is worth a lot of money. And most people are giving it away for free.

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