Viewpoint: Olivier Amar, chief executive and co-founder of MyPermissions

MyPermissions is a service that enables people to check what permissions are being sought to access their data from sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

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Olivier Amar, chief executive and co-founder, MyPermissions

People are giving away a lot of information in return for the convenience of registration. There is no way for us as consumers to really manage privacy in an efficient way. If you try hard, you’ll get to the app permissions page for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on, but the process is long and tedious.

We put up a simple web page in January 2012 with links to the permissions pages for a variety of services. We tweeted it once and it got picked up by the technology website Lifehacker. In 48 hours, we had 150,000 people click through to it and lots of feedback. People care about this.

In August 2012, we launched a service that lets users easily and seamlessly regain control of their personal information and manage their permissions. A few hundred thousand people have downloaded it already and we haven’t even marketed it yet.

The MyPermissions Cleaner is focused on the things that users told us they’re most concerned about: their basic information and email; media and photos; access to their information 24/7; emails and files and geo-location.

We’ve had developers contact us because customers removed their app as a result of MyPermissions. But it’s not because of MyPermissions – they’re removing the app because of what it is doing.

Companies have to be more transparent. Do they make the information they store on users available to them? Are they open about the information they’re storing and where it’s going? Do users have the option to opt out?

Almost every developer is perfectly OK. They don’t have malice, they don’t want to violate users’ personal identity but unfortunately consumers have become very wary.

There is a lot of information out there and consumers don’t know who to trust. It’s important to give them the feeling that you’re OK and that you’re not doing anything untoward with their information. Trust has become a barrier now. There’s no question about that.

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