Amid endemic data hacks and breaches, AI data privacy startup Mine has emerged from stealth with a $3 million Seed funding round to disrupt the notion of digital data ownership and finally give consumers leverage in a market that has fundamentally failed them.
Last November, WIRED reported on 1.2 billion customer private records that were exposed, sitting in an unsecured, easily accessible server. In dramatic fashion, another unfathomable trove of personal data wasn’t guarded by the companies that collected it, and was left open for exploitation. Earlier this year, the Marriott hotel reported a data breach, affecting an estimated 500 million guests’ data, including passport numbers. The digital traces of ourselves are being mined into a trillion-dollar industry and it begs the question: why hasn’t this been solved? Consumers are simply disenfranchised from the status quo of the data era; unwaveringly intrusive user agreements from practically every application to control consumer data, forcing them to choose between enjoying the internet or not.
Mine empowers consumers to discover what the internet knows about them, as well as giving users a choice in where their data should or shouldn’t be. With Mine, consumers can finally own and control their personal data.
The cutting-edge AI technology behind Mine enables consumers to find and delete the trail of information they’ve left on the internet, from signing up to online services, downloading apps and making online purchases. It allows them to see the full extent of their digital footprint – revealing which companies hold their data and what information is being collected about them, based on the sensitivity of the data.
To delete a digital footprint with a company, Mine’s freemium platform enables consumers to automatically send emails to the Chief Data Officer (CDO) of the given company requesting a formal deletion of their data in compliance with GDPR. In their future paid version, the startup will act on the consumers behalf and handle all correspondence between the CDO until full data footprint deletion.
In addition to the GDPR, Mine is already supporting the upcoming CCPA in the US, and will launch in the US mid-next year. “On a day to day basis, we use online services and enjoy the wonderful wide web, but through these experiences, we leave behind hundreds of digital traces” explained Ringel. “We decided to invest our efforts into building a solution that will help people to gain control of their personal data. We are giving consumers the power to decide who can keep their data and how it’s used – the future of data ownership.”
The startup was founded in late 2018 by Israeli entrepreneurs Gal Ringel, Kobi Nissan, and Gal Golan. Ringel, CEO, is an alumnus team leader of the IDF’s elite unit 8200 on the cybersecurity offensive side (where he met Golan), with nearly a decade of experience in engineering roles, as well as almost 5 years as an investor in Israel’s startup market for Nielsen, AOL and Verizon Ventures. Golan, CTO and AI lead, is also an alumnus of unit 8200 where he led security engineering teams, and worked on AI development for SalesPredict (acquired by eBay) and Microsoft. Nissan, CPO, is a former data scientist at the IDF with expertise in consumer and gaming behaviour analytics at gaming giant King, an MBA graduate of INSEAD, and former Principal at Saban Ventures.
The startup developed a non-intrusive machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) technology that identifies every interaction between a consumer and a given company based on the consumer’s email inbox, by only looking at the email subject lines. “We discovered the key to unlocking our digital footprint, lays within our email inboxes, which hold the traces of 90% of consumers’ digital interactions with companies.” They developed a unique methodology to infer the email traces from only the subject line field (processed in memory only) and a proprietary dataset graphing all possible digital data interactions. Mine never reads the email’s body in virtue of not violating their users’ email privacy and adhering to their mantra – ‘never processing, collecting, or storing any personal data’.
The startup’s team originally combed through 50,000 emails and tagged them according to their interaction category, which they inputted into training their algorithms. They already support 10 languages of email classification.
“From our beta, we found that the average user has connected to 400 companies using their personal data; 80% of which were a one-off, but still process the shared data” explained Ringel. Mine’s solution can alert users when they’ve stopped using a service to disconnect their data stream. “We want you to enjoy the internet but we will be there with you to provide transparency and to remind you to keep your data only where you need it.”
The startup’s Seed funding round was led by investors Battery Ventures and Saban Ventures, the venture arm of Israeli media mogul Haim Saban. The funds will be allocated to operations and launching their product to the European market.
At its core, increasing regulations make companies accountable for collecting consumer data in an era fueled by digital interactions. But despite endless data hacks and rising digital interactions, there’s momentum gaining in consumer awareness towards their rights, explained Nissan. “Rather than fencing in consumers, we wanted to step in as a steward and give them full control and transparency throughout their journey.” With the startup’s solution, consumers can reclaim their data ownership, revolutionizing the notion of data privacy and finally bringing ephemerality to their digital footprint.
Sign up for Mine here.