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Nov 24, 2015
If you’ve got 5 mins, I would really appreciate it if you could read this. Then, tell me what you think of the idea.
We’re calling this Identity Proxy. A bit like an escrow service for your contact details. First let me explain some of the problems we think this solves:
You’re looking for an apartment. You do some online research. You signup to several websites, services, and email various estate agents. You’ve given away your contact details to 20 different companies.
You then have 20 different companies contacting you via email, phone, SMS notifications, etc. That’s a lot of communication coming in through different channels and at different times.
You make a decision and rent a flat with one of the companies, but 19 others have your details. What are they going to do with them? Sell them? Market to you later? Call you back every few months asking if you’re still looking for an apartment?
What if you could manage all this communication in once place? Decide how and when you get contacted? And, only give your details to the 1 company you decide to rent with.
You’re looking for a new job. You sign up to 10 different recruitment websites, and job portals. You get a regular stream of newsletters, several per day from different sources.
Once you’ve found a job you have to remember everywhere you signed up and go around unsubscribing from each of the emails. Or you don’t and they keep filling your inbox.
What if you could unsubscribe from all of them at the same time, in one simple operation?
You’re planning a holiday or a trip somewhere. You use the web to do research. This involves filling in lots of contact forms around the web while you make enquiries about places to visit, things to do, and places to stay.
You’re never sure who you’re giving your personal details to. Are companies going to keep marketing to you? Will they sell your details on as a qualified “lead” to other companies?
What if you could make an enquiry online and only share your personal details once you’re more comfortable with who you’re doing business with?
How many sites have you signed up to in the past? If you use a login manager or password manager, then at least you might have some idea of where you’ve given away your details, and what websites you’re registered with.
Maybe you’ve resorted to using a fake email address, or a temporary email account? This only solves part of the problem, because if you’re expecting a reply you have to check a separate email account. Also, many contact forms and email services try to reject temporary email accounts because they are often a source of spam or abuse.
What if we take a different approach, and instead of a “fake” temporary identity, we use a “verified” temporary identity? The company can see you’re a real verified person, but you stay in control of what information you want to give away.
We also group enquiries and registrations into projects. This means that once you’ve found your apartment, finished your job hunt, or returned from holiday, you can close your temporary identity, and shut off contact from all the companies you sent enquiries to, or registered with. Apart from the companies you want to continue to do business with, who have been given your real contact details.
This is why we think of it as escrow for your contact details.
Also, by grouping enquiries into projects and sending them via the proxy, you can also decide how, and when, you want to receive replies. This makes the communication easier to manage, plus they can be combined into a standard format to make it easy to compare.
Companies that are good internet citizens, and don’t hassle customers, and abide by best practises should welcome this idea. It’s better than receiving a fake temporary email address, because they are assured by the verification that it is a real enquiry.
We plan to support the list unsubscribe header. If you’re running a mailing list or registration system, you should already be implementing this on every message you send. We are building support for this standard into our system to help companies keep their lists clean.
## That all sounds very complicated
Well, behind the scenes there’s a lot we’re doing to make it work seamlessly. But, it should be no more difficult than sending an email, or filling in a contact form on a website.
There’s no extra work involved for the person making the enquiries, and it will save them lots of time being able to “unsubscribe” to a whole project group in one go.
We’re going to continue development. We’ve started a website at idproxy.co where you can register to be notified when we launch the service.
Any questions, feedback, thoughts, please get in touch.
Is this a service you would use?