Inside Personal

A Legal Update

If you know anything about Personal, you know that the Owner Data Agreement is the foundational document for how we operate. It’s the legally binding contract between you and Personal that says you own your data that you choose to store and manage in your data vault – not us or anyone you share with on Personal. It’s the roadmap for our privacy- and security-by-design platform that is dedicated to protecting the individual.

In addition to the Owner Data Agreement, we have two other documents necessary for any online or mobile company – our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We posted some changes to them today; nothing has changed in the Owner Data Agreement. Perhaps not exactly world-shaking news, but we believe in sharing these kinds of developments. In the future, we’ll post an archive of them so you can see for yourself how they’ve evolved.

Terms of Use: The primary changes were to add policies for copyright infringement takedown and handling unsolicited business idea submissions and inquiries.

Privacy Policy: We made language about our service consistent with the updated Terms, and added a new FAQ addressing the California “Shine the Light” law, which requires companies to provide transparency in how they share your data. We exceed it at Personal because your data in your vault is yours, and we can’t do anything with it without your explicit permission. While we view these changes as important enough to make, we don’t view them as material.

If you have any questions about these changes or thoughts for improvements, please leave us a comment below or submit your request to

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By Josh Galper in Inside Personal

Get Personal with us at SXSW

The Personal Team will be out in full force at SXSW Interactive this year. In addition to holding sessions to create a people’s digital bill of rights and share our insights on building a company that follows “privacy by design” principles (details below), we’re here to spread the word about small data.

What is small data?

Small data is big data for individuals. It puts the power and tools of big data, which is geared toward the needs of companies and governments, and not individuals, into the hands of people.

While some say that data is the new oil, we at Personal believe that small data is the new oil.

Learn more about small data >>

Discover #smalldata on Twitter >>

If you spot one of us at SXSW (our t-shirts will give us away), please say hi!

Join us at SXSW

Personal’s CEO Shane Green and CTO Tarik Kurspahic will represent the company at the following sessions on Sunday, March 11. We hope to see you there!

We the People: Creating a Consumer’s Bill of Rights

Date: March 11, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. CT

Location: InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, Assembly Room

Co-Facilitators: Shane Green, co-founder & CEO, Personal; Anne Bezancon, founder & President, Placecast

Join the #mydatarights conversation >>

How to Build Privacy by Design into Web and Mobile

Date: March 11, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. CT

Location: Hyatt Regency Austin, Texas Ballroom 4-7

Speaker: Tarik Kurspahic, CTO, Personal

Join the #privacy360 conversation >>


Your Personal guide to Austin

As you plan your time at SXSW, we thought we’d offer up these handcrafted Gems of information about Austin essentials, brought to you by Personal.

Learn more about Gems >>

Note: To view this information, you must be logged in to your Personal account.

Austin 6th Street Bars

Indie Austin Coffee Shops

Austin Taxi Companies

Austin BBQ

Downtown Austin Food Carts

Austin Live Music Venues

For real-time updates and tips throughout SXSW, follow us on Twitter. We look forward to getting Personal with you!

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Why Personal is Sponsoring the Wall Street Journal’s Data Transparency Weekend

A three-day code-a-thon dedicated to working on free Web tools to promote data transparency? That’s the idea behind the Wall Street Journal’s inaugural Data Transparency Weekend taking place April 13-15 in New York City, which Personal is proud to co-sponsor with The Internet Society.

When the WSJ approached us about a sponsorship opportunity, we were enthusiastic to jump on board. For more than a year, the Journal’s “What They Know” series has documented the rise of the multi billion-dollar industry centered on the use of personal data (“big data”) by companies. This event promises to promote transparent data practices across the Web through developing solutions to reveal the prevalence of tracking, provide visibility into how much information people share, and improve software that helps people to control sensitive information.

Here are our top three reasons for being involved in the weekend and why, if you’re a programmer, you’ll want to participate, too:

1. As a startup, we embrace the philosophy that, “If you’re the smartest person in a room, you’re [usually] in the wrong room.” We look forward to being in the company of well-respected Internet privacy experts Julia Angwin, Ashkan Soltani, Sid Stamm, Daniel Weitzner and others.

2. For the first time, we’re making our “small data” platform available to developers. It will be exciting to see what these coders can build on top of a platform designed to facilitate the creation of privacy- and security-minded consumer applications.

3. When 100 coders get in a room together, magic starts to happen. That’s why we’re sending a team of our own developers to partake in this collaborative experience.

If you’re a coder, product developer or engineer, we encourage you to submit your application and join us in NYC!

Event Details

Date: April 13-15, 2012
Location: New York University School of Law
Cost: Free
Application: Currently accepting applications at

For more information about this event, please take a look at today’s press release.

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How Personal lets you login…without storing your password

Since we launched our open beta last month, we’ve received valuable feedback and good questions from people, including these: “Does Personal really not store a copy of my password? And, if you don’t store my password, how do you know it’s really me when I log in?”

Very understandable.  After all, you provide your username and password to log into Personal. It may seem like magic – or just hard to believe that we wouldn’t store a copy of your password – but it actually comes down to a little bit of very smart math.

In cryptography, there is a set of functions that comprise a Secure Hash Algorithm, or SHA, designed by the National Security Agency.  SHA functions are used with your password to produce a hash, or a long string of letters and numbers, that Personal stores for comparison with the password you enter, but cannot be used to reverse engineer your password. (If you want to get deeper into it, this Wikipedia article will help.)

Here’s an example:

Let’s say this is the password you’ve chosen to use on Personal: $aGuhetE4e6E5e%a.

When you register for Personal, we will take that password, apply the SHA functions and hash it like so:

SHA-256($aGuhetE4e6E5e%a) = 7313c5fdbe55eccd01e857cb64c5784d569f342f191d118dfffcbc8c748d37d7

This long string of characters is known as the hash. Only the hash is stored in the database. We never store your actual password, and it cannot be reverse-engineered from the hash.

The next time you come to Personal, you’ll enter your username and password again and Personal will simply hash Login screenthe newly-entered password. We then compare the  two hashes (the stored one and the entered one) to determine if they match. If so, we allow the login. If the passwords don’t match, we know to reject the login attempt.

This is just one of many security concepts and best practices that Personal uses in conjunction with a SHA-256 password hash to keep your sensitive information safe and accessible by only you and those to whom you grant access.

Do you have a question?  Let us know in the comments and subscribe to our RSS to get notified when we post more on these topics.

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By Tarik Kurspahic in Inside Personal

What is Personal? This is Personal.

What is Personal - Infographic

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