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Rita, the app that shows us what Google and Facebook know about us

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From the end of March it is available on the App Store a new app that simplifies access to personal information held by the giants of the Web, primarily Google and Facebook. The app is called Rita, from the abbreviation of “Right to Access”, that is the right to access your data guaranteed by the GDPR. The app does not just download the data on the smartphone, saving them from the online accounts, but organizes them in graphs and lists that are easily understood and consulted even by those who do not have particular computer skills. Rita also simplifies the process of requesting the removal of personal data by automating the sending of emails to advertisers who have collected them through Facebook or Google tools (later it will also be possible to retrieve data from Instagram, Spotify and other services. most popular).

“The app operates in total transparency, saving information locally, but without accessing it in any way,” Guglielmo Schenardi, co-founder of Rita, explains to La Stampa. “Our business model is based not on tracking or profiling, of course, but on offering a premium version of the app that allows for more advanced data control.”

The remote team

Rita was born from an idea of ​​Schenardi and John Arts, his fellow student at the ESCP Business School. Today seven other people from Kazakhstan, Brazil, United States, Italy and Belgium work for Rita, some of them dealing with development, some with legal aspects, some with graphics and user experience, while the two founders put their business experience to good use. Developer. “John and I have always followed issues related to privacy and data protection,” explains Schenardi. “The arrival of the GDPR was an important turning point, but we realized that being able to visualize your data and understand how to really ask the various companies to remove what they knew about us remains a process within the reach of few. With Rita, on the other hand, we want to democratize this step, and really allow everyone to regain control of their personal information ».

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To download the information within Rita, just select one of the services (Google or Facebook) to request the data from and log in with your credentials. In a few minutes the request is processed automatically and Rita is able to download and process everything, generating an easy-to-consult interface.

The proof with Facebook data
In the case of the data obtained from Facebook, Rita shows three main screens. Data & Ads indicates the (estimated) monetary value of our data for Facebook over the last year, the number of advertisements we clicked on and the companies Facebook shared our profiling data with. The screen dedicated to tracking instead reveals at a glance the number of times we have been tracked and the websites we have visited by sending information to Facebook. Finally, the profiling screen collects what Facebook thinks it knows about us, that is, the interests that are assigned to our account to refine the advertisements that are shown to us.

All these data, it should be said, can be consulted and above all downloaded manually also from the Facebook site. Access to the consultation of what can be seen online, however, is not intuitive, and from the downloaded data it is difficult to easily infer the level of profiling and dissemination of our data for advertising purposes.

Request the deletion of data
In addition to simplifying the organization and reading of data, Rita aims to help the user request the removal of information, as required by the GDPR.
From a dedicated menu you can limit the access of companies to our information, unsubscribe from promotional emails, and customize your interests in order to mess up Facebook advertising profiling. With the pro version of the app, you can also track the status update of your data removal requests. The advanced version of Rita is free for now, but can be unlocked by inviting three other friends to try the application. On the basis of this process and depending on the amount of data controlled by the companies, Rita finally calculates a score, the Privacy Score, in order to make the level of disclosure of our personal data more intuitive.

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Rita is still a young app, there are some corners to be smoothed out in the user experience and some details to be reviewed but the idea is promising and the team is determined to carry on the project, adding new services that can be accessed to download information. “Today users do not yet have their own data,” concludes Schenardi. «We believe that simplifying all procedures related to access to data is essential to allow anyone to make an informed and effective choice on their information. Knowing that the giants of the Web profile us and seeing clearly what this means and what this entails are two completely different things, even for those who are already very attentive to the issue of privacy “.

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