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(Credit: Screenshot by Download.com)

The start-up company Hu-manity is giving digital citizens an app to take charge of their personal data. The #My31 app (Android) made its debut today offering users a virtual property title to their data and the chance to get a cut of potential profits. Android users can download it now. An iOS version is coming soon.

Hu-manity's goal is to get users legal control over how their personal data is shared, who can use it, and for what reasons. The company says data should be treated as any other type of property with owners' rights.

If you choose to sell your data, Hu-manity thinks the money should go into your pocket. Participating in the "property-centric marketplace" is optional. Users can customize their title to have all their data considered as personal property, or none. Hu-manity is testing out medical data for US residents and plans to expand to other markets later.

SEE: Android security and privacy start kit

Users can make subscription plans for healthcare companies. Giving a company permission to your data won't mean they have access forever. Users can select the length of the lease.

Hu-manity said the data transactions would be protected by Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain technology running on the IBM cloud.

"Launching with IBM brings credibility and validation to the notion that data should be human property," Hu-manity CEO and co-founder Richie Etwaru told TechCrunch.

The app's name, #My31, comes from Hu-manity's desire to have legal ownership of personal data considered the "31st human right." The United Nations already has a list of 30 ratified human rights.

Hu-manity wants #My31 to become a movement. Its website outlines #My31 app's intended growth plan -- the more users, the more benefits. It's important to note that the app is in its infancy and users won't be making money immediately. Hu-manity set a goal of 100,000 users before notifying the healthcare industry and one million users before "HuBucks" are redeemable.

Etwaru told TechCruch that companies are interested in the project. Data corporations pay for is often incorrect, incomplete, and they have no way to contact the source. While Hu-manity wants to place restrictions, data that is collected could be more accurate.

Data brokers, the people who collect personal information about consumers and sells it to companies, seek out many different types of data. Hu-manity says the human data market makes about $150 billion to $200 billion annually. Data often bought and sold without consent includes:

  • Identifying data (name, address, email)
  • Sensitive identifying data (social security number, birth dates)
  • Demographic data (age, ethnicity, religion)
  • Court and public record data (bankruptcies, marriage licenses, voting information)
  • Home and neighborhood data (home listing price, loan amounts, interest rates)
  • Social media and technology data (friends, type of media posted, use of mobile devices)
  • Vehicle data (identification numbers, insurance renewal)
  • General interest (life events, gambling history, charitable giving)
  • Financial data (credit, investments, income)
  • Travel (travel purchases, frequent flyer)
  • Purchase behavior (budget, method of payment)
  • Health data (smoker, prescriptions, over-the-counter purchases)

Information is often obtained through state and local government, federal government, commercial sources like magazine subscriptions, and other public sources like phone directories, blogs, and social media.

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Takeaways

  1. The start-up company Hu-manity launched the #My31 app to give users legal control over their personal data.
  2. The app would give users a legal ownership title for their data, the ability to choose to sell it or not, and eventually make a profit.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.