New Irish start-up wants to pay people for ‘flogging’ personal data online

7 Sep 2012

We may have become used to sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn drilling through our personal data for targeted marketing campaigns, but what if you were to sell your own information online? A new Irish service called Dataflog is aiming to help internet users do just that.

Set up by Trevor Gilligan, has just been around a few weeks now. Gilligan, who has a degree in computers from Trinity College Dublin (TCD), said he had been designing websites since he left college via his business

So how did the idea for Dataflog come about?

“I was chatting with another guy and we were talking about how companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter are worth so much money. It comes down to the fact that it’s not the traffic on the website but that they have your information that they sell for hard-earned cash.”

He said he decided to set up a website that sells people’s data but from which they can make money.

“People can give as much or as little information as they want. They make money and we make money, so everybody is happy,” explained Gilligan.

“There’s a saying ‘if the product is free you are the product’ and that’s what is happening on these websites. People don’t even know that when they go onto a website and they give their gender, date of birth, university – that’s all information that’s sold.”

Make money from targeted marketing? is aiming to disrupt the trend, according to Gilligan, in that users can register with the site for free and are presented with 228 questions.

“You go in and answer as many or as little questions as you want. For example, you can give information such as your gender and age, or more information, such as whether you are single or divorced, (favourite) food and drink … The more information you give the more chances you have of selling your data.”

Following that, he said a marketing company or a local company will come in and target people by searching for particular criteria.

“Say if 100 users match that criteria, they will pay Dataflog for that information. Once we receive the payment, the company then gets the data.”

As for the payment process, he said that a business will pay 25 cent per payment option per person.

“Once they pay us, the user gets half of the money and we get half of the money. Then you could expect the marketing information from whatever company bought that data.

“We have a question about what’s your favourite method of being marketed – is it by text, email or phone? The majority of people want information by email, followed by text.”

Gilligan also claimed that Dataflog is going to have an “exclusivity” to give it an edge.

“So you can’t like everything. If we ask you what your favourite hot drink is, it has to be either tea or coffee or hot chocolate – it can’t be all of them.

Building up credits

But how will people be paid for sharing their personal data? “The users build up credits,” explained Gilligan. “Let’s say we sell your information and we sell it based on one question. That’s 25 cent so you get 12.5 cent. That’s how you build up credits. We pay people twice yearly, in May and November. The user has to build €20 in credits. Once they have that credit, we will put that money into their account.”

Dataflog will ask people for their bank information and sort code to put the payment into their back account, he said.

“We won’t store that information. Once we pay them, we delete their banking details.”

And since launching two weeks ago, Gilligan said Dataflog has 65 registered users.

“I’ve had people contacting me not only from Ireland but also from the Netherlands, Australia and the UK, asking can they register on the site because it’s only in euro now.”

Finally, he said the site needs at least 10,000 people for it to be a success. “That’s what I am aiming to get over the next few weeks.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic