MobileBeat: OwnYourInfo puts your private data in a mobile lock box

OwnYourInfo is one of 20 promising startups included in the MobileBeat 2010 Startup Competition and is in the running for one of two coveted Tesla Awards.

OwnYourInfo gives users a secure, neatly-ordered location to store and view their most important data through their mobile phones — basically turning your handset into a locked filing cabinet. Its goal: to eliminate the hardcopy and hard-drive files and sticky notes that clutter your physical and digital desktops.

The application can store everything from whole documents to bits and pieces of information. You can file that information under any of seven categories: personal, health, career, finance, travel, automotive and housing. The company is so confident in its security measures that it recommends scanning and storing things like passports, tax returns, and college transcripts.

“The application goes beyond data storage with a unique sharing model that allows users to set permissions on their sharing requests,” the company says. “For example, a user might send his resume to six people as read-only files, and prevent forwarding. Then, once opened, he’d receive notice saying that his document was opened by at 1 p.m. at such-and-such a location.”

Users can edit these permissions options at any time, or push updated files to other users they have already shared information with. For example, if you changed addresses, all you would have to do is update the data once within the OwnYourInfo application, and it would automatically be changed for everyone who had received that info via the app.

The application is launching this month, and the company plans to have it be accessible from any device that has access to the internet without any downloads or plugins required. The service will be free for the first 30 days and then cost $5 a month for 1 gigabyte of storage.

The company may be able to take advantage of the attention being paid to privacy issues, given so many concerns around what more invasive players like Google and Facebook are doing.

“I think the concern over Facebook and Google has created a lot of buzz about privacy, so yes, there is more demand today than there would have been last year,” says OwnYourInfo President and Founder Mark Black. “The amount of data being collected is both amazingly useful and very frightening, and regulation will have to become increasingly strong to keep data mining practices safe.”

OwnYourInfo identifies Watchdox and Orggit as competitors, but the former lacks the same storage capabilities, and the latter hasn’t nailed the sharing model yet.

“Right now we are making sure everything works on the web app and planning a rapid development of a corresponding mobile app,” Black says. “We are also working with TRUSTe to get their EU Safe Harbor certification so we can legally operate in the European Union, and trying to grow our beta test group.”

OwnYourInfo says it will use the feedback gleaned from its beta to simplify its interface and build on functionality that could make the app more useful for families and small groups.

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