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Respect Network's promise: own your digital future

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As we’ve learned more about corporate and government surveillance of our online lives, we’ve become more concerned about our privacy. Respect Network wants to help you protect yours.

Founded in 2011, the San Francisco startup is gearing up to launch a decentralized identity service. Through “your personal cloud,” the company reckons, you’ll be able connect to a swath of privacy-conscious apps and services — and you’ll own all of the data.

Respect Network promises sharing data privately will be as simple as sharing publicly on social networks like Facebook and Twitter — though we don’t envision those platforms jumping on board.

The platform’s global launch should be June 23. It’s lined up around 50 founding partners, including Neustar, Swisscom, and NEC.

Some apps available at or near launch include Icepick, which will offer encrypted file-sharing that works across Respect Network clouds; and Transfer Health, which will let folks manage their personal health records in a safe, encrypted environment. As an open platform, any Respect Network member can develop an app for the platform.

“The Respect Network is the only global data sharing network engineered from the ground up by what is called Privacy by Design,” Drummond Reed, the chief executive of Respect Network, said in a statement last week.

“This can be distilled into three main points of difference — all members own and control their own data in their own personal or business clouds; all sharing is over direct peer-to-peer connections under a standard legal framework to guarantee privacy; and the network is paid for directly by members rather than by advertising or data brokering.”

Respect Network has raised nearly $3.4 million in seed financing for its privacy-centric network from 39 total investors, according to an SEC document filed today. It’s seeking another $1.7 million.

Respect Network members can host their information on their cloud service provider of choice, or host it themselves. Each person can register a unique “cloud name” with Respect Network, reserving it for life. XDI.org, a non-profit, will operate the cloud name registry under contract with IT firm Neustar.

Chief executive Drummond Reed was a founding board member of the OpenID foundation.