The Personal Data Economy at K(NO)W Identity Conference

I was happy to take part in the inaugural K(NO)W Identity Conference, organized by several ex-Googlers through their new organization One World Identity.

Although it turned out to be one of the more thoughtful discussions I’ve participated in on the emerging personal data ecosystem (hats off to Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Rainey Reitman for excellent moderating), it also shows the challenges of discussing such a complex subject in a room full of folks working on identity, privacy, security and data.

The biggest area of misunderstanding remains around the many win-win benefits for both individuals and companies when users are empowered with their data. Watch the video and let me know what you think @shanegreen.

Getting started with TeamData

I wanted to share these two new videos we created to help you get up and running with TeamData.

The first is a quick guide for team members who have been invited to join a team, and provides a good overview of everything from registering to product functionality.

The second video is specifically for team admins, and is focused on what it takes to set up a team account, invite team members, and to create or import the initial data for the team.

You can check them both out at:

Even though most of you will start off by being invited to join a team that’s already been set up, it’s worth the extra few minutes to watch the team admin video to get a sense of the benefits of creating a new team, perhaps in your department, for a project with outside consultants, or even at home.

And, as always, please let us know what you think!

This was original published on the TeamData blog here


Today’s Facebook report on personal data & privacy gets a lot right

Is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing or a sign of enlightenment at the world’s largest collector of personal data?


I must admit I was more than a little wary when I was invited by Facebook’s Global Deputy Chief Privacy Officer, Stephen Deadman, to participate in an off-the-record roundtable on the future of personal data and privacy. The involvement of the UK consulting firm helped convince me, given their long-time focus on building transparency and trust in this area. I’m glad I did.

I must admit I was more than a little wary when I was invited by Facebook’s Global Deputy Chief Privacy Officer, Stephen Deadman, to participate in an off-the-record roundtable on the future of personal data and privacy. The involvement of the UK consulting firm Ctrl-Shift helped convince me, given their long-time focus on building transparency and trust in this area. I’m glad I did.

Overshadowed by today’s announcement of 500 million Instagram users,Facebook released a report this morning called “A New Paradigm for Personal Data: Five Shifts to Drive Trust and Growth.” You can download it here: or check out Deadman’s Op-Ed here:

I hope Mark Zuckerberg reads it and internalizes its many good recommendations, especially given the powerful catalyzing role Facebook could play to empower people with data. It’s not just the right thing to do, it would be great for the company’s long-term business (oh, and for that pesky regulatory problem).

While much of the report’s thinking has been articulated previously, including by Ctrl-Shift, the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium (where Personal, Inc. was a founding member), the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Data and The Aspen Institute’s Communications & Society Program (both of which I participated in), it matters that Facebook spent its time and energy to convene so many trusted experts — 175 in all across 21 global roundtables — and to publish such a thoughtful and balanced report.

Unlike regulators, privacy and security advocates or most any industry player, no matter how large, Facebook is in a unique position to put the tools directly into the hands of their users and provide powerful direct and indirect incentives for them to start becoming hubs for their data.

In this model, users could re-use their data in a permission-based way, and in infinite combinations, across the entire connected universe at home, work and everywhere in between. It would be the ultimate democratization of data in a fair and transparent ecosystem where individuals actively decide when, where and how to participate in a robust value exchange tied to their data.

So why would Facebook take such a risk when its current business model is built on its ownership and control of user data?

Deadman answers that question in the introduction to the new report:

My observation from the years I’ve spent working on privacy and data related issues is that the personal data debate has been largely grounded in a limiting premise – that the desire to innovate with data is generally incompatible with preserving individuals’ rights to privacy and self-determination.

This premise is entrenched by regulators, policymakers and industry, as we tend to talk in terms of trade-offs, as though these two equally desirable goals will always be in tension with each other, and our only choice is to balance them off against each other.

I firmly believe that such trade-off thinking is undesirable – it leads to suboptimal outcomes – and I also believe it’s unnecessary: we now have the skills, technology and motivation to transcend this supposed trade-off.

He goes further:

The debate also entrenches an assumption that only organisations can control data, ignoring the ability and potential of individuals to take a more active role, exercising agency, choice and control over their own data.

I don’t think the evidence supports this assumption. What is more, when people have more control over their own data, more growth, innovation and value can be created than when they don’t.

It’s this very last point that will win the day. There is simply more opportunity to innovate and create value when individuals are empowered in this way. No single company, or government for that matter, can ever match the competitive advantage of individuals (or teams of individuals) to aggregate and permission access to the constantly growing and changing data from across their lives — including their connected devices.

And those who try to keep the individual out of the equation risk being punished as this new model emerges. Data collection, use and monetization simply can’t be kept behind the curtains much longer. Deadman is right to draw Facebook’s attention to both the opportunity — and the risk — of not embracing the rightful role of users.

There is also a surprising set of security benefits of a model with less standalone copies of data in the world, especially when the data that is shared on a session basis and comes networked with real-time validation and authentication. The future would not only be more secure with this approach, it also happens to be in the interest of the world’s largest identity provider.

In our own business, we are seeing this user-centric model starting to take root inside the workplace by and between employees. The enterprise is one of the few places where the need for individuals to practice active data management and data security is both understood and able to be mandated. It’s probably no accident that the Facebook at Work solution is one of the company’s biggest new initiatives.

The report finishes with grand brush strokes, painting a vision of a race to the top among companies who compete for access to user data based on trust, transparency and the value they can deliver. These market-based solutions have all the elements of the “digital enlightenment” many of us have been talking about for a long time.

For those of you worried that Facebook is simply trying to co-opt this new model before it is even established, or use it as a shield to avoid regulation, I understand the concern. But I really don’t think there will be any going back once it happens. As people wake up and experience the magic of having their data go to work for them, they will never be passive about their data or oblivious to its value again.

While Facebook has a lot to gain by being a leader, it has even more to lose by being seen by its community of users as holding them back. I applaud Deadman and his colleagues for taking such a bold position.

This post was originally published here on Medium.

Why “graduated” to TeamData today


Ben Horowitz was right after all. He told us a few years ago that our model of user-centric data management was all wrong for consumers, but that it just might work in the enterprise. Realizing we weren’t buying, he sent a nice follow up email to encourage us to seriously consider changing our focus. We were so convinced we were right I’m not even sure if we wrote back (sorry Ben).

Today and our Personal Data Cloud solution are becoming TeamData, a reflection of our shift toward solving critical information management and data collaboration needs of companies and their employees, as well as with consultants, vendors and customers.

Enter the enterprise. Despite game-changing transformation from team productivity and collaboration solutions in recent years, employees still have to hack their own standalone solutions to organize the information they constantly need to get stuff done — like spreadsheets, notes apps and even contact cards in their address book. Meanwhile, email, messaging, calls and in-person interruptions remain the standard for requesting and sharing data. Entire classes of jobs continue to exist solely to organize, manage and update information manually for teams and their members.


A MindMap showing approx. 10% of the data graph of a company

Most existing solutions for team productivity excel at unstructured data (e.g. files or notes) or messaging and project management. And the few products that understand data, like password managers and digital wallets, are limited in the types of data they manage and their security was not designed for collaboration.

The reality is we’re all still kickin’ it old school when it comes to organizing and sharing information.

Current solutions do not solve the complex challenges of structured, reusable data — which is hard to protect, growing exponentially, changing constantly and needed in super-unique combinations for different lengths of time by people inside and outside of companies.

That’s because data is a related, but altogether different game that requires deep understanding of the data itself combined with granular permissions to enable its reuse in limitless combinations while providing entirely new types of security (e.g. we follow Privacy-by-Design principles).

As we started re-architecting the platform and data library for team collaboration six months ago, early adopters started reporting compelling evidence of the benefits. Here is one recent example from Onboardly for content marketing teams:

All time top tools to keep your team on track…Securely stores just about all the details that your brain doesn’t ever seem to absorb.” — Onboardly



What’s so special about networked, structured data is that it can be reused over and over across an entire company, and everyone with permission automatically has access to the most up to date version when anyone makes a change (they can also have their access turned off).

There is literally only one copy of the company name, address and Federal Tax ID in a TeamData graph. One instance of the company social media account logins, demo server credentials, and visitor wi-fi. And so on, for over 1,200 different types of data covering thousands of different tasks.

Finally, networked, machine-readable data will also unlock new kinds of innovation when employees and companies grant permission to apps and analytics tools, like the new generation of AI-driven digital assistants.

We are still passionate about our vision to empower consumers with data. We already see employees starting to form teams outside of the office using their private data, and know they will discover whole new ways to use our tools.

For now, we’re excited to keep our heads down and keep solving all the challenges companies and employees face every day. Give it a try and let us know what you think —

This post was originally published here in Medium.

Meet Fill It Mobile for iPhone and iPad

By Shane Green

I’m pleased to introduce you to Fill It Mobile for iOS! It’s our new app for iPhones and iPads that enables you to have secure, 1-touch auto-fill experiences in mobile native apps and on mobile sites. (Over the summer, we released Fill It Mobile for Android at Google Play).

I’m especially excited to announce the launch at the 2014 Privacy Identity Innovation Conference (pii) in Palo Alto today. Personal won the pii Technology Showcase Award in 2012 and the pii Audience Spotlight Award in 2011, the first time pii held the competition.
Fill It Mobile for iOS rounds out our revolutionary form-filling offerings that started with the introduction of the Fill It web extension over the summer for Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE browsers, which can automatically complete any web form in what is now the world’s largest index of 1-click forms — 310,000 and growing.

Here’s our press release on Fill It for iOS.

Fill It Mobile for iOS and Android addresses two of the biggest areas of friction for users in mobile apps and transactions – the difficulty of completing forms on mobile devices and reusing our data across apps.

It aligns perfectly with our mission to make individuals the hub of all of their own data, and solves an enormous challenge for companies and apps.

Fill It Mobile supports over 1,200 different types of data and can work on most any form, including:

  • registrations and account creation
  • payments of all types (including ACH and wire transfers)
  • credit card, banking and insurance applications
  • job applications and HR
  • real estate and mortgage
  • medical and health insurance
  • government and school
  • travel and events; and
  • shopping and loyalty and rewards sign upsWhen you see an app or company form that is enabled for Fill It Mobile, just click a button to complete and submit it (after reviewing it, of course). You’ll be able to use the data from your Data Vault to populate it and, if you’ve had to add new information to complete it, you’ll be able to save it to your Data Vault for future re-use.

When you see an app or company form that is enabled for Fill It Mobile, just click a button to complete and submit it (after reviewing it, of course). You’ll be able to use the data from your Data Vault to populate it and, if you’ve had to add new information to complete it, you’ll be able to save it to your Data Vault for future re-use.

When you see an app or company form that is enabled for Fill It Mobile, just click a button to complete and submit it (after reviewing it, of course). You’ll be able to use the data from your Data Vault to populate it and, if you’ve had to add new information to complete it, you’ll be able to save it to your Data Vault for future re-use.

Forms can also be launched and completed using QR codes. And when a paper or PDF form is still required, just print or share a PDF version of the completed form via email. You can even sign it with an e-signature app.

To complement our Fill It Mobile apps, we’ve also released updates to our Data Vault apps to iTunes and Google Play, which are designed to interact seamlessly with Fill It Mobile. So now you have two more reasons to go to Google Play and iTunes.

Try out Fill It Mobile for iOS and let us know what you think.

Personal University: Indexing Forms and DataRank

This post was originally published under the same title on the Personal blog, A Personal Stand.

The science behind making data reusable on forms

In our latest video for Personal University, we explain the new data science that powers Fill It and automated form filling. There are five primary components of Fill It and any data stored in a Data Vault:

1. Open Ontology

By necessity, we had to design and build an open ontology for different fields of structured data and meta-data – which number over 1,200 at present. Other efforts to better organize data informed our work, like the semantic web, but we had to stick a flag in the sand to make a user-centric system work. We have published the ontology, which you are free to adopt or help us improve upon. You can search and interact with the ontology, which features DataRank (next section) here.

2. DataRank

We analyzed hundreds of thousands of actual forms and millions of data fields and learned what fields were most commonly used. We call this “DataRank”. DataRank literally ranks every field of data we support according to popularity and frequency of use. We constantly add fields to the ontology and continue to refine our DataRank algorithm. Email us at if you have data fields you’d like to be added.

3. Indexing Forms

We have indexed over 300,000 forms, which are all searchable and rated according to a 4-star system to help you understand how well the form supports auto-fill.

We start by matching supported fields from our ontology against specific fields on a form. A combination of machine learning and review ensure that matching occurs properly. Once matched, your data can be delivered securely from your vault to that field or a company’s back end in the required format. We call this our “semantic graph”. The video highlights several examples of how messy and complicated this problem is for autofill.

4. Structured Meta-data for Notes and Files

Personal’s ontology also supports structured meta-data for notes, descriptions, and other unstructured information and files – making all of those types of information and files reusable. This works especially well for frequently used information like company descriptions, personal bios, or step-by-step directions to your office or home.

5. Correlations Graph

Our last layer of logic, the Correlations Graph, is where some of the coolest magic happens. It analyzes the instances of data you and others use to complete a form — all while maintaining the privacy of your actual information.

For example, you may have a number of different names and addresses in your vault. The Correlations Graph figures out – without looking at the data itself – which name and address to use based on the context of the forms. It correlates which data belong together to help it predict with more accuracy the correct data to use in a form for a child, spouse, doctor, car, or anything else you’re managing in your vault. The Correlations Graph gets smarter the more you use Fill It.

Check out the video and let us know what you think.

New Mobile Data Vault App for Android Released

This post was originally published under the same title on the Personal blog, A Personal Stand.

We just released a new version of our Data Vault app for Android. The iOS version will be available soon.

The updated Data Vault app is designed to be interoperable with our new Fill It mobile app – as well as with the Web versions of both Fill It (browser extension) and the Data Vault.

To celebrate the occasion, and to ask for feedback from Android developers and users, we are offering a free lifetime subscription to (a $29.99 per year value) for the next 10,000 people to download the Fill It and Data Vault apps from Google Play.

To take advantage of this offer, please use this link to register:

And then download both apps for Android here:

Data you create in any of the apps will be stored securely in your private, cloud-based Data Vault, and will then be instantly synced across devices. We have also improved the user interface, and created more streamlined, intuitive options for adding data – including by using forms in Fill It.

You can search, add or edit your information and passwords on the go, even when offline. Easy touch and hold functionality allows you to copy and paste info wherever you need – e.g. Wi-Fi and passwords.

Unlike password managers and digital wallets, Personal’s Data Vault supports over 1,000 different types of reusable data, as well as encrypted photos, documents and notes:

  • • passwords & account info
  • • Wi-Fi & alarm codes
  • • personal info for you & family
  • • SSN, IDs and driver’s license
  • • travel & passports
  • • shopping & rewards programs
  • • health
  • • banking & credit cards
  • • insurance
  • • pets
  • • vehicles
  • • home & office

Please let us know what you think by tweeting to us @personal, or by sending us feedback at: