ToS

The business problems only customers can solve

Customer Commons was created because there are many business and market problems that can only be solved from the customers’ side, under the customer’s control, and at scale, with #customertech. In the absence of solutions that customers control, both customers and businesses are forced to use business-side-only solutions that limit customer power to what can be done within each business’s silo, or to await regulatory help, usually crafted by captive regulators who can’t even imagine full customer agency. Here are…

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Change of Address (√)

Way back in 2006 or so, in the first Project VRM meetings, our canonical use case was ‘change of address’; that is to say, we wanted individuals to have the ability to update their address in one place and have that flow to multiple suppliers. That seemed easy enough, so we thought at the time; all that’s needed is: – a data store controlled by the individual – a user interface – an API that allowed organisations to connect We…

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Privacy is personal. Let’s start there.

The GDPR won’t give us privacy. Nor will ePrivacy or any other regulation. We also won’t get it from the businesses those regulations are aimed at. Because privacy is personal. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have invented clothing and shelter, or social norms for signaling to each what’s okay and what’s not okay. On the Internet we have none of those. We’re still as naked as we were in Eden. But let’s get some perspective here:  we invented clothing and shelter long…

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Hey publishers, let’s get past mistaking tracking protection for ad blocking

Here’s what the Washington Post tells me when I go to one of its pieces (such as this one): Here’s the problem: the Post says I’m blocking ads when I’m just protecting myself from tracking. In fact I welcome ads. By that I mean real ads. Not messages that look like real ads, but are direct marketing messages aimed by tracking. Let’s call them fake ads. Here’s one way to spot them: When you see one of those in the corner of an ad, it means the ad is “interest…

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The Only Way Customers Come First

— is by proffering terms of their own. That’s what will happen when sites and services click “accept” to your terms, rather than the reverse. The role you play here is what lawyers call the first party. Sites and services that agree to your terms are second parties. As a first party, you get scale across all the sites and services that agree to your terms: This the exact reverse of what we’ve had in mass markets ever since industry won the industrial revolution. But we can get…

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Time for THEM to agree to OUR terms

Try to guess how many times, in the course of your life in the digital world, have “agreed” to terms like these: Hundreds? Thousands? (Feels like) millions? Look at the number of login/password combinations remembered by your browser. That’ll be a fraction of the true total. Now think about what might happen if we could turn these things around. How about if sites and services could agree to our terms and conditions, and our privacy policies? We’d have real agreements, and real relationships, freely established, between parties of…

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Giving Customers Scale

Customers need scale. Scale is leverage. A way to get lift. Big business gets scale by aggregating resources, production methods, delivery services — and, especially, customers: you, me and billions of others without whom business would not exist. Big business is heavy by nature. That’s why we use mass as an adjective for much of what big business does: mass manufacturing, mass distribution, mass retailing, mass marketing, and mass approaches to everything, including legal agreements. For personal perspective on this, consider how…

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Privacy is an Inside Job

Start here: clothing and shelter are privacy technologies. We use them to create secluded spaces for ourselves. Spaces we control. Our ancestors have been wearing clothing for at least 170,000 years and building shelters for at least half a million years. So we’ve had some time to work out what privacy means. Yes, it differs among cultures and settings, but on the whole it is well understood and not very controversial. On the Internet we’ve had about 21 years*. That’s not enough time to…

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Data Privacy Legal Hack-A-thon

Customer Commons is supporting, and board member, Mary Hodder, is hosting the Bay Area event. Additionally, there are NYC and London locations. Please join us if you are interested: This is an unprecedented year documenting our loss of Privacy. Never before have we needed to stand up and team up to do something about it. In honour of Privacy Day, the Legal Hackers are leading the charge to do something about it, inspiring a two-day international Data Privacy Legal Hackathon.…

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