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Consumer Confidential: This company will pay you to share your data. Is it worth it?

By David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

I pointed this out to Sweeney. He told me all would be made clear if I downloaded the Killi app and set up an account, which, admittedly, I didn't do because I share enough data.

In any case, something as significant as a blanket opt-in for data sharing isn't a disclosure one withholds until the sign-up process. It's surprising, to say the least, that Killi isn't more forthright about this.

Sweeney said Killi now has about 100 million U.S. accounts. But not all of them represent "active users," which is to say they're not all actually using the service.

I asked what percentage of those 100 million accounts are active. Sweeney said this was proprietary information, not to be shared.

Irony much?

Sweeney said publicly listed Killi has yet to turn a profit. "Hopefully next year," he said.

I'm of two minds about the company. On the one hand, it's encouraging that an entrepreneur like Sweeney would recognize a need for acknowledging, and rewarding, consumers' role in the data industry.

For years we've been little more than an afterthought for companies that have turned our personal information into a commodity to be bought and sold.

 

On the other hand, I'm not sure Killi is the answer. Yes, a little cash is better than no cash. But agreeing to even more data sharing? I don't think so.

And that blanket opt-in for data sharing that Killi is pitching clients — it feels like we're being asked to abandon our last line of privacy defense. For a few measly dollars.

"It's not about the $2 or the $3 you make," Sweeney told me. "It's about taking back control of your data."

Well, no. It's about scoring a few bucks for revealing things about yourself to marketers.

But what Killi seems more intent on doing is securing your permission for its clients to do as they please with the data you share (or that they collect behind your back from data brokers and other sources).

That's a big deal, and Killi has done a decidedly weak job informing users about the full scope of what you're agreeing to.

Sweeney said Killi prides itself on a commitment to sunlight and transparency. Let's call that a work in progress.

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