This article is courtesy of Shmulik Fishman, the founder and CEO of Argyle, which provides a universal, trusted platform for accessing employment records with worker consent.
Since the dawn of corporate bookkeeping, companies have been compiling and collecting information about our employment, a hidden treasure trove of data – your data – locked away in finance departments and payroll records.
In the case of nearly all data tracking, we’ve handed over our rights and information to companies through acknowledging, and “agreeing” to, their terms of service and employee handbooks. Couched in hundreds of pages of text and written in a legalese that would make a Supreme Court Justice blush, companies consistently ask consumers to relinquish their informational identities, while monopolizing on their ability to analyze, repackage, and resell personal information of their consumers and employees.
Shockingly, there are no laws to stop companies from using your information in almost any way they see fit, particularly if you’ve agreed to the terms as part of employment or using that product or service. The U.S. has no standardization or federal law when it comes to an individual’s datasets, making navigating each state and local government’s laws cumbersome, costly, and confusing.
Until relatively recently, troves of physical, paper-based information were mostly laid to waste in filing cabinets only accessible to human resource departments. A new generation of financial technology companies, like Argyle, are unlocking employment records and piecing together fragmented data fields. Once linked to a consumer’s payroll records, they provide real-time information that is a valuable resource to companies and consumers alike, making it easier, faster, better, and smarter for innovative companies to put employment data to work for their users.
Employment records are quickly becoming the best way to evaluate a consumer’s credit worthiness, providing real-time insights of financial acuity that credit reports insufficiently illuminate. Gig workers in particular benefit from evaluating their current and future income trends, opening access to credit that otherwise may be blocked by legacy institutions.
Today’s best fintech companies asks for permission every step of the way and explain to consumers how unlocking their data will assist in what they are applying for—like getting a loan or credit. Truly consumer focused companies never sell or re-use user information, and allow for a user to easily revoke permissions at any time.
While we wait for the laws to catch up, consumers can support these changes with their wallets and downloads. Move your business to companies that value transparency and open communication—those that make it easier for you to control your data while providing consumer-centric goods and services. When consumers do this en masse, legacy institutions will not only take notice, but will be forced to change or die out with the dinosaurs. The future of data privacy is “data in the hands of the individual,” but only if we make user consent both an industry and legal standard.
Shmulik Fishman is the founder and CEO of Argyle, which provides a universal, trusted platform for accessing employment records with worker consent. He started Argyle in 2018 after experiencing the complexity of work verification for his previous venture STRATIM. Shmulik is a published author and has an undergraduate degree from Hampshire College where he studied philosophy, as well as a degree in business from Columbia University.