Knowing what personal data of ours the big tech companies have collected is not so straightforward. Now for an app developed by two young students the situation will change a lot. Available on both the Google PlayStore and the Apple App Store, Rita already in her name contains the entire meaning of the project. The abbreviation actually stands for RIght To Access, thus underlining the will to help every user to exercise the right to access the information that Big Tech have collected about him.
How was born Rita
An idea born from the two students Guglielmo Schenardi and John Arts, shortly after the entry into force of the GDPR in May 2018. We met while attending a digital law course at the Escp Business School. To start the project at the beginning we decided to rely on freelancers, but since September we have created a real team of 9 people spread all over the world – says Schenardi, 22 years old who today attends the China MiM Bocconi-Fudan – John from Antwerp, we then have a developer in Brazil, one in Kazakhstan and a Lithuanian guy who lives in Genoa. The Croatian designer lives in Germany, while a university friend of ours helps us with the business part from New York. We are all in our twenties but with a few years of work experience behind him.
Data under control
Although the work was carried out completely remotely and the project was carried out only using the savings of the children, the app is already available and developments are expected. At the moment in fact the user can ask to see what information Google and Facebook have collected over time. In a few minutes it can appear in the app the list of ads with which we interacted or the list of geolocations collected by the Mountain View company. As for the social network, it can be traced back to the‘list of sites that are being tracked or the interests for which we are reached by targeted ads.
In the future we will also do the same with Instagram and Spotify, but there are many companies that collect data about us. Just think of Amazon and LinkedIn – continues Schenardi – Our other goal is to shorten the time required for requests to have more control over your information. In fact, Rita doesn’t just show what Big Tech know about us, but allows people to ask a particular company to delete their data personal collected. In the Advanced version of the app (yet to be implemented), the user can do it more easily and entrust the management of communications with the company to Rita’s team. We plan to include a monthly subscription, where the user himself will decide how much to pay based on how much the service considers useful, explains Schenardi.
Everyone has a value
The app then offers a Privacy Score, a score calculated on the basis of several aspects. It takes into account how many companies have our data available and the set of those to which we have requested the removal of information from the database. For every action in defense of our privacy, for example by eliminating an interest for which we are tracked or by removing our address from a mailing list, the score increases. Finally it is interesting to have an idea of the value that each person has for a Big Tech. Google tells us how many advertisements a user has selected: at that point we multiply the figure by the average cost per click and we get an estimate that is actually very low. But this is only a starting point for arriving at a more complex measurement in the future, concludes Schenardi.
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