Does the owner of a smart phone/car/watch/TV own the data being pumped out by the device, or does the manufacturer? When you click “I agree” without reading a user agreement, you may be giving others way more personal information than you think. Sentrys, a data privacy company going through the Global Insurance Accelerator, is working to help consumers stay in control of their data.
How Sentrys works
Sentrys CEO and founder Slobodan Reljic was working at another company he founded in his native Belgrade, Serbia when one of his engineers was in a car accident. After months of his employee dealing with the hassle from insurance companies, Reljic started brainstorming.
“I had read about a car accident in California, where the driver of a Tesla was killed and it took three months to conclude what had happened because the companies didn’t want to share the data from the connected car,” Reljic said. “There’s so much data that could be shared to help a police investigation or speed up an insurance case. Sentrys can help simplify the process and navigate companies through regulations.”
In Europe and Canada, there are laws about data privacy stating that personal data can’t be stored, analyzed or sold without prior consent. In the US, HIPPA prevents medical data from being shared, but other data is largely unregulated. With Sentrys Reljic hopes to make it easier to share data when it might be helpful in Europe and Canada, and to help protect that information in the data wild west that is the United States.
Sentrys would control the data at the cloud level. When there’s a car accident and there are two owners of the data set (the car’s owner and the car company), Sentrys navigates between the two parties, seeking approval from both to share that information with a third party, like an insurance company. Reljic believes the process will speed up procedures, cut down on paperwork and eliminate errors.
Sentrys is a B2B company, working with companies that will install Sentrys’ software and hardware with the end user being the general public. The consumer then has the option to confirm or deny the use of their data, knowing that it’s for a one-time-only use, and won’t be sold beyond the transaction at hand.
“Even with HIPPA, you sign a paper that your doctor can access and share your records, then you have no control after that point,” Reljic said. “With Sentrys, you control this process.”
Sentrys and the Global Insurance Accelerator
Reljic entered the GIA with largely just the idea of what Sentrys might be. Out of this year’s cohort, Sentrys was the project closest to conception than completion.
“We see Sentrys as a longer-term play,” said GIA managing director Brian Hemesath. “At the end of the day, insurance companies are data companies and what happens to data is a hot topic. It’s going to be an ongoing concern. This is a super hot space, and it’s one that needs a lot of work.”
The future of Sentrys
Sentrys is going through testing, and Reljic hopes to use the connections he’s making in the GIA to help develop new projects for the company. Sentrys’ development team will remain in Serbia, but he’s planning to set up an operational component in the US with staff in Iowa or Illinois.
“If the public has the opportunity to control their own data, I think they’ll be satisfied,” Reljic said. “Corporations don’t seem eager to share the data, even though it’s the driver’s data. But that’s just thinking about the US. When I say ‘What about Europe?’ their eyes open. Who knows what will happen, but the personal data from your car belongs to you.”
Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.