Information wants to be free, as the dotcom era cliché would have it. Sadly, that is true of your private personal details as anything else.
The problem goes beyond spam, or the cataract of junk mail that pours through any letterbox with a postal address.
If you send your CV to a recruitment consultant, how do you know it will be shown only approved employers, and not sprayed around the internet? How do you know your medical records won’t find their way into the hands of a life insurance company?
Given that you don’t know where they go, the answer can only be trust. Do you trust your doctor, your supermarket, or your friendly neighbourhood headhunter?
Paoga is aimed at the people who would answer that question with a terrified ‘no’.
It’s basically a centralised, secure repository where all your personal data can be stored. Anyone who wants to access it can do so only with your permission.
It’s the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Graham Sadd.
“There needs to be some solution for people dealing with CVs, medical records and financial affairs. There are a lot of areas where people want to take back access control and responsibility for managing their data,” he says.
“People are starting to react to organisations hoarding data on them in numerous databases. The trouble is, while they are aware of the problem, they don’t even know where to begin. Half the time we don’t know where the data is.”
His solution is never to let the data out of your control. Take the area of buying a house, where one of Paoga's first customers, Real Property Information, is about to launch a service.
UK housebuyer will soon have to provide a dossier of facts about the house, called a Home Information Pack.
Rather than letting an estate agent (that's a realtor to you, transatlantic chums!) look after that information for you, the seller could keep it all in a Paoga account, and allow buyers to keep track of who accesses it, where and why.
For the estate agent, it takes away the headache of managing and securing that data themselves.
Using web services standards, Paoga will be able to plug in to the systems of estate agents or any other information provider, and seamlessly deliver secured customer data as and when the owner of the data allows it.
The data is held secure using line by line encryption. “Instead of just encrypting the database, we encrypt every entry. If somebody breaks into our personal records database, they would have to crack the encryption for your file. That security is very much the USP,” says Sadd.
Even Paoga can't look at the data without the data owners’ permission.
The service grew out of project for recruitment, where people were concerned about their resumes being sprayed across the internet, even landing embarrassingly on their own employer’s desks.
Hence the name – it’s not a new exercise fad, it just stands for ‘People Are Our Greatest Asset’.
“Often said but rarely acted upon,” Sadd notes.