Me, myself and Meeco

Toni Sekinah

Katryna Dow, founder and chief executive of personal information management service Meeco, was inspired to set up her company after watching a film. Personal information and data are the central themes of the 2002 movie, Minority Report, with authorities predicting individuals’ actions. So it is little wonder that Dow was spurred to create a business centred on data sovereignty.

The Meeco platform helps people to manage their personal identity, as well as to save, share and sync their personal information across devices. On the other side, Meeco also helps organisations to handle the data they collect. Dow says: “We work with organisations, like governments, hospitals and schools, and help them work together with their customers or patients to consume personal information in a much more responsible way.”

With a Meeco account, a user has a secure personal cloud, an encrypted data store, a contacts directory, search and filter functions, a private web browser, a profile that is synched across multiple devices, and access to the Meeco marketplace.“Essentially, what we create is the ‘API of me’, so we enable you to bring lots of APIs together and then create an API that you then decide what parts of that information you want to share with somebody,” said Dow.

For consumers, Dow describes Meeco as a digital assistant that helps them to manage their lives in four specific ways: organising, encrypting and safely storing their information; connecting with people and organisations they trust; bookmarking their favourite sites to create a personal web that can’t be tracked; and signalling intentions via gift lists and wish lists. Those gift and wish lists can be shared with their contacts and with participating brand partners.

Dow says that Meeco can operate with either a little or a lot of input from the user. She gives the example of a young child, who would be a silent subject, whose parents are archiving important pieces of information about them, such as photographs, videos or soundbites.

A use case that requires more interaction is someone applying for a service, such as a mortgage. “You may want to be really clear of the terms and conditions for the information that is being asked of you and what happens to it afterwards - if somebody keeps it or sells it - when you’re applying for a mortgage,” says Dow.

The ability to manage one’s own T&Cs is an example of “data sovereignty”. Dow says: “I think my right to be able to collect things and decide who I want to share things with is data sovereignty.” She adds that another aspect of data sovereignty is individuals having the right to understand what is being collected about them, how it is being used and being asked before information is used in a way that might be harmful to them.

Meeco also incorporates a “consent manager” which allows the user to dictate who can see their information and for how long. For organisations to build trust among users, Dow says they have to demonstrate and prove they are trustworthy. “It is not something that they get an automatic tick on,” she says.

Dow incorporated Meeco in 2012 and launched the first version of its services in 2014. The headquarters and development team are based in Sydney, Australia, and there is also a team in London. From the advanced features built into Meeco, it comes as no surprise that Dow is an advocate for data rights and a speaker on Me2B business models, data protection and privacy. She was doing just that at the Personal Information Economy 2016 conference hosted by Ctrl-Shift on 29th September 2016.

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