'Tenant Assured' App Wants To Sell Your Private Data To Landlords

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sat Jun 11 08:35:17 BST 2016

<http://fortune.com/tag/changing-face-of-security/>CHANGING FACE OF SECURITY

This Invasive App Wants to Sell Your Private Data to Landlords

Hackett <https://twitter.com/rhhackett>@rhhackett JUNE 9, 2016, 3:54 PM EDT

The startup behind it eyes employers and romantic interests next.

Web 2.0, meet credit reporting agency 2.0.

Public social media information apparently isn’t 
enough for the next generation of businesses 
looking to grade consumers on their reliability. 
A new app wants to know as much as it can about 
you­including the private digital bits.

Assured, created by Score Assured, a U.K.-based 
startup, aims to dig deeper than what’s out in 
the open. Here’s how the service, which debuted in the U.K. recently, works.

A prospective landlord (and Tenant Assured 
customer) sends a prospective renter a link to 
the service, which requests access to one or more 
of his or her social media profiles on 
-1.64% , Instagram, 
-3.98% , and 
-3.97% . Then it hoovers up the data therein 
contained­including what’s normally off limits 
for profiles marked “private”­crunches it through 
some algorithms, and delivers an analysis to the landlord.

A reporter at the Washington Post 
the plunge (brave soul) and decided to test out 
the service. The app created a “creepy” digest, 
as she says, about her online self. “My personal 
tenant report includes a list of my closest 
friends and interests, a percentage breakdown of 
my personality traits, a list of every time I’ve 
tweeted the words ‘loan’ and ‘pregnant,’ and the 
algorithm’s confidence that I’ll pay my rent consistently,” she wrote.

Thornhill assured Fortune that the company does 
not pry into one’s chat threads, such as Facebook 
Messenger conversations, Twitter or Instagram 
direct messages, or LinkedIn “in mails.” Rather, 
it scopes out the content posted to a network, 
looks at one’s usage and activity, one’s closest 
contacts, and other personal details­such as how 
often someone goes on vacations or writes the words “terrorist” and “murder.”

“People continue more and more to expect their 
private data to become something of value that 
they­can’t sell­but can trade for something,” 
Thornhill said. “We see it as a way of helping 
people get something they want.” In this case, tenancy.

Credit reporting agencies and background checkers 
have long histories of associated connotations 
with privacy invasion, intrusiveness, and, of 
course, creepiness. As The Atlantic out it in 
recent story, such bureaus “were the NSA of the 
19th century.” This seems to be an iteration on that theme.

The company is also exploring specialized 
versions of the software for use-cases in 
recruitment, online dating, and other areas.
Screenshot of website

Evictees and families unite


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