Former White House tech official has new privacy startup, TrustLayers

TrustLayers co-founder Danny Weitzner, former Deputy CTO at the White House.
TrustLayers co-founder Danny Weitzner, former Deputy CTO at the White House.

Danny Weitzner, an MIT researcher who served as Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House under President Obama is hatching a new startup related to data privacy: TrustLayers, which is out now raising a seed round of funding. Weitzner’s co-founder is Adam Towvim, a long-time executive at the mobile advertising startup Jumptap, acquired last year by Millennial Media.

Towvim tells me TrustLayers aims to help companies get a handle on how their customer data is being used — and especially to spot anomalies that might indicate a violation of the company’s privacy policy, or government regulations like HIPAA in healthcare or the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

“Just like a balance sheet gives you a window into a company’s financial health, what we’re trying to build is a similar snapshot into how your data is being used,” Towvim says. TrustLayers will let companies define their policies about how data in various databases may be used and combined — not just control who has access to it — and “monitor data usage in virtually real-time, alerting them to potential issues.”

By better monitoring who is doing what with what data, Towvim says, “companies can be more innovative in their use of the data, rather than having your lawyer or regulators scare you into taking the lowest common denominator approach.”

Towvim says TrustLayers is in the process of hiring a CTO. The company’s one hire so far has been Rob MacDonald, a senior engineer who previously worked at Hadapt and Endeca. Weitzner is director of the Decentralized Information Group at MIT, and served as Deputy CTO for Internet Policy at the White House through August 2012.

The startup is operating out of Koa Labs in Harvard Square.

(The photo above was taken by the New America Foundation at a 2012 event.)

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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