The Good Data is a cooperative that collects, pools and sells members’ internet browsing data, but it does so entirely on their members’ terms. In order to build user trust the platform anonymises as much of the data it collects about its users as it can. This is done manually on a case-by-case basis, depending on who is requesting access to it and why. The co-op also refuses to collect any information that contains sensitive terms, say, from browsing explicit websites, health websites or political websites.
Revenue is generated from the sale of anonymised data to data brokers and other advertising platforms, and the profits are split between social lending in developing countries, and on improving technical development of the platform. Any co-op member can participate in deciding these rules, either through discussion on the site’s collaborative platform, by attending general meetings or by being elected as a company director. The investments can be tracked on The Good Data website: so far it has funded 34 projects in developing countries.
On one hand, the coders are incentivised to build better services for the site by setting aside a portion of the company’s revenue for them. On the other, the users (those whose data is actually being sold) retain the power to make decisions, making sure the company’s interests are always in line with those of its members. Altogether, this approach allows for transparency of data flows, participation and fair distribution of profits.