Privacy ‘Passports’ Grade Companies On Their Data Protection Policies


Privacy ‘Passports’ Grade Companies On Their Data Protection Policies

By Sara Miller, NoCamels -

Just how secure is data provided to companies when paying for their services – and what about the companies who are doing the buying?

How do we know we can really trust entities on either side to protect the most sensitive information of their partners?

Israeli startup Hoggo has created an AI-driven platform that combs through and assesses a company’s publicly available policies on consumer protection – a process that when done manually can be an arduous and time-consuming affair.

The Software as a Service (SaaS) platform then creates an individual privacy protection outline and grade for that company, which prospective buyers and sellers can access and decide for themselves on their level of trustworthiness.

“We build a passport for them, which is basically like a resume,” Hoggo co-founder & COO Noa Kahalon tells NoCamels. “[Companies] can basically assess it with one click, and also monitor them in the long term.”

Because the information used to create the passport is publicly available, Hoggo can access the data and evaluate companies without even having to liaise with them.

Using its publicly available data, Hoggo has even created a passport for Amazon Web Services, the eponymous cloud computing platform used by almost 1.5 million businesses, including Disney, Johnson & Johnson and General Electric.

But, says Kahalon, companies who do want to work with Hoggo can improve their grade by claiming their passport and being more open about their policies and practices – including with whom they are sharing sensitive data.

“The more transparent you are, the better your trust grade is,” she says.
And according to Hoggo, 90 percent of consumers say they would not buy from a website if the seller did not adequately protect their personal data.

Kahalon has had a long-term interest in data protection, having discovered its pitfalls when setting up her own company as a teen. She has even just written a book for young children about the importance of keeping personal information private when interacting with others online.

Noa Kahalon’s book teaches young children about the importance of online privacy
So far, some 200 companies have signed up for passports. For now, the service is only available for companies (B2B) but there are plans to expand to offer it to individual consumers as well.

The service is currently entirely free but Hoggo is also developing a more advanced platform that would include a fee.

The company, which is less than two years old, spent a year and a half working on the technology before its live launch around three months ago.

Funding came from the German government, where Kahalon says data protection is taken “very seriously.”

Indeed, the European Union says its General Data Protection Regulation, which monitors how sensitive information is safeguarded, forms “an important component of EU privacy law and human rights law.”

The United States also has robust data protection legislation, although it is less uniform and changes from state to state. This can make it harder to understand which statutes are observed by which companies and in which locations across the US, which again is where Hoggo comes in.

Kahalon says she and her co-founders – CEO Samuel Solberg and CTO Toni Stjepanovic – wanted to upend the arduous process of verifying a company’s compliance policies on data protection.

“I was getting really frustrated with how things are being handled,” she recalls. “It’s a lot of manual work, a lot of lawyerly work.”

Furthermore, Kahalon explains, evaluating a company is not a one-off process – each one has to be repeatedly assessed as it can change its policies without making a public statement. Hoggo’s AI platform can automatically monitor any changes and update a company’s passport accordingly.

“This process is very much broken,” she says. “Both sides are trying to make it work but also protect themselves.”

According to Kahalon, Hoggo is the only company that is aiming to offer data protection for both buyer and vendor.

There are multiple platforms offering evaluations of data protection compliance, she says, but they are solely focused on vendor’s policies – serving just the buyers – and do not have a similar service for sellers to evaluate their partners as well.

Other companies offer trust centers (a breakdown of a business’ data protection policies) – but neither option is what Kahalon calls a 360 degree solution.

“It’s not like a marketplace where both sides can meet,” she says. “We’re kind of both, because the passport can be a trust center.”

The company’s name comes from hoggo, the Japanese word for protection, and the logo – a hedgehog – was chosen due to the animal’s ability to protect itself. (The hero of Kahalon’s story for kids is a hedgehog called Hoggo.)

“It can be really spiky – that’s the protection aspect of things,” Kahalon says of the spiny mammal. “But it is also very cute and cuddly: if you handle it correctly, it can actually help you.”


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