I still use the first Gmail ID I ever created. Since I created my account, I have signed up for hundreds of newsletters over the year, multiple services and websites, but I’ll be honest, I never thought about my data privacy till the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened. This brought me to a new problem - who had I given my data to, and how would I go about requesting them to delete it?
With CCPA and GDPR laws in place, you now have the right to find out the extent of your personal data stored by a company, and can request them to erase this data (Right to be forgotten). But what if you can’t remember what websites or services you signed up with? Do you remember websites that you signed up for in 2010 or 2011?
What is Mine and why should I use it?
Mine gives you a snapshot of your digital footprint and allows you to send requests to companies to delete your personal data. It combs through your inbox to find every service that you may have ever signed up for, and allows you to identify which ones you don’t need. From there, it’s one-click to send an automated email to the service provider or website requesting that your data be deleted.
So far, I’ve sent out 60 requests to delete my data, 5 companies have done so. The low success rate on my requests to delete data is mainly because (a) Mine’s database doesn’t have the email IDs for all the companies I had signed up for in the past and (b) Companies not complying with CCPA and GDPR regulations. I now use Mine on a monthly basis, sending out additional requests, and following up with services who asked for more time to delete my data.
But why is Mine important?
Most privacy apps and softwares available today focus on preventing users from sharing additional data with advertisers or third party softwares on their devices.
This includes ad trackers and popup blockers (e.g.: AdBlock), VPNs, password managers for increased security (e.g.: 1Password), etc. Before Mine, there was no way to identify what your digital footprint looked like without manually having to go through thousands of emails! Mine fills this gap in the data privacy product landscape.
My recommendations for the product
Features I’d like to see:
1. Mass unsubscribe to newsletters: Mine could comb through email inboxes to identify the list of newsletters and emails a user is subscribed to and offer a one click option to selectively unsubscribe from them.
2. Data breaches: Mine could check for a users’ past data breaches due to hacks and encourage a user to change their passwords (similar to haveibeenpwned.com).
3. Checklist of weekly to-dos: It takes time to review the 300–400 companies (the average number indicated by Mine) a user may have given their data to. A weekly checklist could spread out the process over a longer duration to periodically review and request data erasures.
4. Multi-email account support: Syncing multiple email accounts to a single Mine account will enable a user to action all their privacy concerns across accounts without having to create multiple Mine accounts. This reduces friction for users with multiple accounts.
1. Viewing and actioning different categories of services is cumbersome: Each website/service is in the form of a tile. Each tile needs to be clicked on individually to request data deletion. Mine could test a list form (in which checkboxes are used) to see if and how usage changes. My hypothesis is that lists are easier to use and will reduce cursor movement for a user on the page, thereby simplifying the process and making it faster for a user to take action.
2. Adding a website URL to each tile: It is difficult to identify what website/service each tile corresponds to. As a result, I have almost deleted an account I needed by mistake, because I couldn’t clearly identify what it was and assumed it was a website I didn’t use. Viewing the website URL would make it easy to double check what the service is before requesting deletion.
3. Adding Filters: The default filter to view tiles is by date of signing up for a service. Some users may find it easier to filter by category, frequency of communication received, last email received, etc. Some of these categorizations exist, but it is not intuitive to filter this from the master list of companies a user has given data to.
4. Crowdsource information: I have 25 outstanding requests with Mine to delete data from other websites. However, these are pending because Mine does not have the email ID that the data erasure request should be sent to. If Mine begins to crowdsource some of this information from users, the turnaround time could decrease, and this would reduce dependency on an internal content team. This also could improve Mine’s perceived effectiveness tremendously.
Mine just raised their Series A of $9.5M in Sept 2020. I’m really excited about what they’re going to do next and I’m rooting for them! Visit their website at saymine.com