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Commeta – innovative, privacy enhancing, global comment system

Posted by on April 22, 2015.

A friend of mine from Toronto got in touch with me today about a new service he is developing called Commeta.  It immediately caught my attention as a privacy guy, because one of the fundamental problems with leaving comments on web sites is the requirement to give them your details – which means you are exposing your email and other personal details to every single web site you wish to comment on.

Sure there are services like Disqus which some sites deploy and therefore limit the number of web sites you need to give your details to – but their reach is limited and I have always had privacy concerns about how these services create revenues.  In most cases I have come across they use cookies which can track you across every web site they are installed on which enables behavioural profiling which is then sold to marketers – a practice I not only object to, but one I have actively fought against for the last 8 years.

So when a friend of mine whom I know is actively involved in the privacy and security scene comes to me with a system like this, naturally my interest is piqued.

So let me briefly explain what Commeta is.  Commeta is a browser plugin which sits on top of the web pages you view and is not in the control of the publisher – it allows anyone who has the plugin installed to leave and read comments on any web page.  This has a number of benefits:

  1. As noted earlier – by having a plugin which handles comments for any web page, there is no need to give your details to every single web site you wish to leave comments on – from a privacy and security perspective this is great news.
  2. Many web sites moderate comments in a subjective fashion, removing comments which may be critical of them.  This means that discussion may be biased towards a favourable commentary which can be abused.  In fact, Amazon have recently filed a lawsuit in the US against a number of companies that were selling false review services that companies were using to provide misleading comments whilst censoring those from genuine customers which may not have been so favourable.  Now whereas a comment plugin which is beyond the control of web site publishers might still be vulnerable to fake reviews – at least it can not be abused to censor genuine reviews which may serve to counter such practices.
  3. Many web sites don’t have a commenting system which makes it difficult to research information on particular products and services – and when you couple the concerns from point two above – it is often difficult to trust them even if they do.
  4. Some web sites have started to remove comment systems because of the overhead of moderating and managing them – which adds to the frustrations of point 3 above.

Another thing I like about this plugin is the fact that the developer is being transparent about revenue generation.  The plugin will be supported by unobtrusive advertising which if based on the principles of Privacy by Design, will be done in a way which does not compromise the privacy of users.  I will be doing everything I can to help make sure that this is the case and I am confident that Commeta can avoid the privacy issues which have plagued other systems in the past.

Commeta is currently seeking to $5000 CAD via a Kickstarter campaign, which is a very low amount and they are offering an ad-free code for 12 months to those who contribute $9.00 CAD or more – which to me seems like a good price point for a subscription based service and I would hope this structure remains in place once the project launches.  If you want to help support Commeta, you can do so on their Kickstarter page

Personally, I think it has great potential and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops.

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Submitted in: Alexander Hanff, News_privacy |