The Ethi Mission

At Ethi, we want to give individuals autonomy over their personal data. That means helping them understand and control the data that other companies collect about them, and helping them use that data for themselves.

The Core Problem

Tech companies spend billions collecting and analysing your data, and then just use it to sell advertising. They’re not in any hurry to let you understand what is happening with your own data or use it to improve your life. They assume your data is an asset of theirs, to be used to make profits and otherwise locked away. We disagree.

There's a huge amount of value to be unlocked by giving individuals the control of their data. When you can control your data, it becomes a tool for action, rather than a passive record of the past.

But right now it's far too hard to control your data. It's scattered across sites and services, each with its own interface for access. There's no good way to find out what

Our thesis

The future needs a suite of tools providing concrete, hands-on benefits to individuals. These tools will help people make real changes in their lives by solving real problems using personal data.

What we're building

We're building three tools: two to help people control their data: the Ethi Platform and FaceErase, and one to help people use their data: Supersurfer.

Why these 3 products?

We want to help people keep their data within their control, help people learn from their own data, and help people use their data.

Right now, data is collected and stored without any context or explanation. To help people understand their data, we have to connect the dots and make it easy to find out what's happening.

The state of the personal data landscape

There are a handful of startups, but they tend to be focused on monetising the data, or just managing privacy settings. None are focused on building a product to compete head to head with what Google, Facebook, and other consumer web giants are doing in a privacy focused way.

These services are managing data, and not helping people understand it, control it, or use it! Our focus is entirely on the user experience. We want you to get real, tangible benefits from their data. We want to give you an active toolkit, not just a dump truck for your data.

We think it’s possible to build services that compete on user trust and ownership.

What is at stake

We’re in a fight for the future of the internet, to ensure it remains a decentralised, user-centric space rather than being dominated by the corporations that can hoover up the most data. We want it to be a place where anyone can have their voice heard, and where users have the power.

Today, data gets used by algorithms to infer whether you're part of underrepresented groups, and treat you differently based on that. Giving users control of their data will help mitigate the impacts of algorithmic bias, as users will be able to choose what they share.

We want to move the tech industry from being “product-centric” to “human-centric”. We're hoping the next decade will be the decade of human centred technology.

Competing with Google, Facebook and other giants

We believe that it’s possible to build systems that focus on users rather than on advertisers. People want a direct, transparent relationship with the services they use, rather than one that’s indirect, opaque, or exploitative.

On a global scale, we’re seeing a backlash against the use of personal data to profile and discriminate. In Europe, privacy laws are tightening and companies are being held to account for the abuses of their users. We think we will see similar legal challenges in the US in the years to come.

Also, the role of large technology companies is being seriously re-examined. All these "free" services were never really free at all, they came at the cost of our privacy, our autonomy, and our attention.

Ethi in 5 years

We see individuals using Ethi to own the go-to source for their user-centric personal data. Ethi will provide users a single platform for all kinds of data, in a variety of formats. The goal is to give users the freedom to control their data and to use it for themselves.

If people feel like they have control over their data, it will empower them to make better decisions about themselves and the world around them. People will finally be able to use their data in a meaningful way.

They will be able to donate data to support causes that are important to them, take action on political, social, and environmental issues that they care about, and pursue careers and lives that align with their personal interests.

Our ultimate goal is to make personal data fully user-centric, allowing the user to bring their data with them and use it wherever they are in the physical and digital world, always staying in control.

Join Ethi on our journey

Join us and help us build the first personal data platform. Our dream is to put people in control of their personal data - if you’re interested in helping out, here are some ways you can get involved:

  1. Join us as a Founding User! We want to work in the open, but we need resources to do that. We also need money to run servers and to pay our bills!
  2. Work with us! If you’re interested in making a tangible difference, and working on a project you can be proud of, get in touch with us.
  3. Tell people about the mission. Write about us on your blog or social media (shares always appreciated), or send a link to someone you think might be interested.

We’re worried about the world and how the balance of power has shifted away from the individual to the algorithm. We’re proud to be involved in a project that we think can help shift things back towards a more equitable state.

We also have a semi-regular newsletter. If you’d like to be on it, sign up on the homepage).

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