Published: 12th November, 2019

A (theoretical) website for HackSheffield 4 (2018) where you can sell your own data to advertisers for the price you set. HackSheffield4 2nd place

The Background

On the weekend of 28th October 2018, I attended HackSheffield 4.0 with a team of three other people. Throughout the event we had 24 hours to create and demonstrate a project of our choosing. Inspired by how Facebook sells the personal data of its users, we came up with a simple premise:

"What if we let people sell their data themselves, and give them a cut of the profits?"

We named our project - Datrify.io

As our project had quite satirical tones, we named our project by mashing together as many tech name tropes as we could think of:

  • “datr” - Using ‘r’ instead of proper grammar.
  • “ify” - Something-ify-ing something.
  • “.io” - A popular tech domain.

The Website

We created a website: Datrifyio.com (.io domains are expensive) Datrify.io is built using the Laravel Framework, and would allow users to upload their info to an account they create, and set the price for the data. I use the term, would because obviously there are considerable ramifications of letting people upload personal data to a website we built within 24 hours. For the purposes of demonstration, we used fake, generated data. (Its was quite scary how many people were genuinely interested in uploading their data for profit.)

A screenshot of the website

The Chrome Extension

We also made a chrome extension that users could use to collect data on all the websites they visit when activated (it could even track incognito websites). This was the area of the project that I focused on. One of the factors of making something at a hackathon is almost always-= bodging things together to get a working demonstration. Initially we wanted the Chrome Extension to automatically connect to the user’s account on the website. However, we experienced some issues with the messaging APIs. For demonstration purposes, we hardcoded an API token into the extension.

The Result

Due to possible legal implications of the project, we’re very unlikely to be rolling this out beyond a proof-of-concept. We did however win Best Hack - 2nd place and I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project. I went from knowing nothing about chrome extensions to having created one in the space of 24 hours We also learnt more about backend development, and linking the front end of a project to the backend.

A photo of our team winning 2nd place
Three of our team members receiving our prizes from the MLH rep (left) and the HackSheffield President (right).
Art skipped the closing ceremony for a badminton match (he lost).

The devpost for the project is here, although the write-up you’ve just read is more in-depth that the content there.