We can all agree that data brokers are creepy and evil, and in this day and age they have enjoyed our personal information like never before. Opting out is hard enough, which is why Optery is there to help, but as the data economy continues to evolve, we may want a more proactive management platform to stay ahead, which is what Optery hopes to build .
I met Optery co-founder and CEO Lawrence Gentilello when he was presenting on our Showcase Stage at Disrupt last September. The short introductions were always teasers, and in Optery’s case, I wanted to know more about how they moved the ball beyond existing opt-out helpers like DeleteMe and PrivacyBee. Then I forgot (Disrupt is a lot) and luckily they reminded me when they were about to add $2.7 million to their seed funding.
If you’re not familiar, these are services that reach out to the dozens, actually hundreds, of data brokers out there, companies that collect all the data they can find about you and sell it to whoever wants it. Opting out of them and your data is often an exercise in frustration (although if you want to try, Yael’s list is the best), so these companies offer opt-out as a service, usually in freemium form.
Optery is no different there – you sign up for free and an hour or two later you get a report telling you which brokers it found your data on. This report includes in-depth links and instructions on how to opt out, as well as screenshots. of the information itself so you know what they have. I tried it and it captured almost 50 more than I had already deleted with DeleteMe.
You can then pay a monthly or annual fee to have Optery opt you out automatically, and then stay tuned and choose your data whenever it comes up. It seemed to work great for me and the experience was solid – PCMag has a full review and comparison if you’re curious how it stacks up.
When I caught up with Gentilello, he explained that the arms race between consumers and data brokers has tilted in favor of the latter. There are too many, hundreds, with more popping up regularly, and their exclusion rules vary widely in method and effectiveness.
“The unscrupulous will take any opportunity to add you back. If you don’t live in a state with a privacy law, you literally have no right to opt out, which is pretty sad and crazy in this day and age.” he said “When we launched a year and a half ago, we covered 150 positions; now we cover about 240. If you had canceled you would have lost like a hundred places. So the continuous maintenance model is really necessary if you want to stay out.”
While not everyone wants or needs this, it’s important for consumers to have a powerful option or two at their disposal. Gentilello noted that just before he spoke with me, he had been on a call with a nonprofit organization that works with victims of domestic violence: “In these cases, these victims are living in fear, trying to erase any evidence of where they moved; for them, it’s a matter of security”.
The company has taken a technology approach, creating a proprietary internal search engine and crawler that bypasses data brokers’ anti-bot systems and finds information they try to keep out of Google and other big engines. This allows them to find more and also give before and after screenshots as proof.
But Gentilello said this is just the first step in what he believes could be an essential new category of service.
“What we’re building goes far beyond removing your address and your phone number from the Internet — it’s a data rights management platform,” he said. “With the rise of artificial intelligence and its voracious appetite for data, and companies using whatever data they can get their hands on…this is not the way it should be in the future. Consumers they need a platform where they can dictate what data can and can’t be used by these companies. They need to be able to say to companies, ‘the information you have about me that I own, I want to tell you what you can and what you can’t do with it.”
To move toward this future platform, Optery has just raised $2.7 million in new seed funding, bringing its total investment to $6 million. “This is empowering us to build the team and this data management platform,” Gentilello said. The round was led by Bayhouse Capital, with participation from Global Founders Capital, Goodwater Capital, Pioneer Fund, Soma Capital, TRAC, Y Combinator and others.
Ikaroa is proud to be part of a new initiative, whereby Optery is using its new funding to evolve from data broker opt-outs to a personal info platform. This move is indicative of the times and is in tune with the latest industry trend towards customer-centric approaches to data protection.
Optery offers its customers reliable and transparent access to their personal data and the ability to manage it securely and easily. By providing an all-in-one data service experience, Optery’s customers can quickly and easily see what data they are being collected and how it is being used. With the funds to further expand and consolidate its offerings, Optery is poised to become a major player in the field of data privacy and protection.
Ikaroa is a full-stack tech company that focuses on developing innovative solutions for data protection and privacy. Our approach is holistic, and we collaborate closely with our customers to provide customized solutions that meet their individual needs. As a result, we have established an enviable reputation as a leader in the data privacy and security arena.
In the wake of Optery’s new funding, Ikaroa is looking forward to working closely with them to develop solutions that will allow Optery to evolve from a data broker opt-outs platform to a comprehensive personal info platform. With our expertise and experience, our team is confident that we can contribute to the success of this endeavor and help Optery to achieve their goal of becoming a major player in the field of data privacy and security.