I recently listened to an awesome podcast where a tech founder brilliantly and honestly explained to listeners what is happening with their data in a freemium model. I wanted to share what I learned with our team, as it so closely resembled something I’ve been telling my own daughters for years … since they got their first smart phones.
"You know what I have always told my kids about the internet and social media" I questioned. Someone responded, "don't put naked pictures on the internet?"
"Well, yes, that too, but no – I've always told them, remember, if you are downloading something you're not paying for, guess who is the product?"
What happens to your data once it is in someone else’s hands, and at what point does it “stop” being yours? This depends on the company obtaining the data, their contractual obligations, and if they choose to honour them – considerations for care.
In anticipation of our upcoming benchmarking feature – launching for advisors and their clients – we feel it is important to explain how myHSA will be using the data. If your clients should ask, we want to provide clarity and an honest response to understand what we are doing.
When your data comes onto a platform like ours, it is contained within its own database.
It is in these separate database structures that protect your client from having information span across.
So, how do we provide information in a meaningful way to provide functionality, like benchmarking? To do this, we must utilize the data while upholding our obligation to our client’s privacy. First, we must strip out the data from the separate containers that will prove important, such as industry, company size, plan design and spending.
Then, we make sure the data is anonymized, ensuring the information we use is generic. By the time it is ready to be utilized, there is no possible way it could ever be linked back to the advisor neither to the company who provided it in the first place. Therefore, the information is taken from the database and moved into a pool with the rest of the data for utilization for benchmarking purposes.
I need to answer two questions that likely everyone will ask after reading this:
Will my data ever be compromised once it is in the benchmarking pool?
The answer is absolutely not. To be utilized in this pool, the data is completely anonymized – no one will ever know the companies we are referencing.
If I ask you to delete my data, does it truly get deleted?
The honest answer to this is yes and no. The yes part is easy – the personalized data in the database container will be deleted upon request or removal of the client from the system. However, the no part is that once the information is in the benchmarking pool, the data being so anonymized, there is no possible way to strip that data out and be able to delete it, as that is part of the machine we are building.
We are not selling your data – even the anonymized part, we are repurposing it into a useful resource for you to advise your clients on the new and innovative ways companies are utilizing spending accounts. You will see that through what we have done, spending accounts offer more than just a bucket of left-over money – they provide an ability to achieve goals of plan implementation and offer personalization that cannot be traditionally done with insurance carriers.
CEO & Founder