Inspiration

I've been implementing tracking software like GA/Mixpanel/etc. on various projects for over a decade and, until recently, I never stopped to think about just how much data companies are collecting on us, FOR FREE. When I started getting Facebook ads from websites I had never even FB authed with, I knew something had to be done. Pairing that with the ease of getting someone set up with a bitcoin address, I knew I could make something super easy for people to monetize their data.

What it does

Trakkin is a chrome extension that runs in the background. It listens for web requests from certain tracking sites like Google analytics and instead of blocking the request, it modifies the request to obscure most personally identifiable information, and kindly asks the website owner (or whoever is watching the analytics dashboard) to start paying btc for the data. Once they pay a lightning invoice through trakkin.me, the data will start to flow like normal. That bitcoin is then able to be cashed out by the users.

How I built it

Using Blockstack's distributed authentication, I created a website, a chrome extension, and an api that allow a user to simply install the chrome extension, authenticate on the website and then sit back and wait for bitcoin to roll in! The chrome extension takes care of hiding personal information as well as alerting the company that they need to start paying their users for this data.

Challenges I ran into

The biggest issues were related to sharing data between my website (where the blockstack auth needed to happen) and the chrome extension. Secondly building the logic for obscuring PII data, and then enabling it again after payment turned out to be tricky due to javascript's asynchronous nature mixed with some Chrome apis lack of asynchronous execution.

What I learned

One of the biggest things I learned is that we are being tracked a lot. For every single website you go to, there are another 10 (at least) requests happening in the background. Even on websites I've built I was surprised to see trackers like mixpanel and google analytics firing off requests that I never implemented.

What's next for trakkin.me

trakkin has a really interesting network effect to it. The more people that use it, the more incentive a company will have to start paying their users. I would like to keep growing the app and see if we can change the way companies think about their user's data and privacy.

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