Home Report: Mint Considers Selling Anonymized Data from Its Users

Report: Mint Considers Selling Anonymized Data from Its Users

According to a report from Bloomberg today, Mint.com‘s CEO Aaron Patzer is considering selling anonymized data about the service’s users. Mint, the online personal finance aggregator, obviously sits on a lot of very interesting data, some of which the company has shared on its blog now and then. Given that this was just a short interview, the details about this plan are more than vague, and it would be interesting to know what kind of data Mint might be planning to sell. What is clear, though, is that Mint will have to be very careful if it doesn’t want to scare away its customers.

On Mint, users can aggregate information from their various checking, credit card, stock, and retirement accounts. Because of this, Mint could, at least in theory, build a very detailed financial profile of every user, though the company’s Privacy and Security Policy clearly states that a user’s privacy is not for sale.

Aggregate Data Only?

We can only hope that Mint is simply planning to sell aggregate data from its users and will hopefully refrain from selling anything more granular than that – including anonymized details about specific consumers and their shopping habits. We know that anonymized data on social networks is easily linked to specific users, and when AOL released some anonymized datasets of its users, these searches were also easily traced back to specific users. We can only imagine how easy it would be to do this with data from a user’s credit cards, though in the Bloomberg interview, Patzer argues that his company “wouldn’t share information about individual transactions.”

Given the amazing quality of the data that Mint has access to, it is hard to blame the company for trying to monetize this information. Some of the data from Mint would surely be very interesting – and we can see that companies, for example, could use this data to get a clearer view of who their customers are.

Mint’s Privacy and Security Record So Far: Impeccable

So far, Mint has had an impeccable record when it comes to security and privacy, though this interview will surely spook some users. Mint has to walk a very fine line here, as giving this data to Mint was already a leap of faith for a lot of consumers and Mint has worked hard to convince users that their data is safe on the service.

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