/ Design

Sudo: It’s Your Terms Of Service

The idea is to live your life online through the Sudo lens. We give you the latitude and the ability to decide how much information you provide.

Steve Shillingford, founder of Sudo, is a Jazz season ticket holder. He’s also a frequent traveler, so he sells his tickets to games he will not be able to attend while out of town. Shillingford used to have to provide his personal contact information when listing his tickets on Craigslist, and before long, he was flooded with texts and calls from Jazz fans. “I kind of turned into ticketmaster,” Shillingford recalls. Managing interactions with buyers using his personal phone number is not the ideal situation, so now Shillingford uses Sudo to create a Craigslist identity complete with a different phone number and email address. Shillingford brokers tickets through his alternate identity, freeing his personal number for personal interactions.

Currently available for free in the app store, Sudo generates secure, special-purpose identities. These identities include phone, email, text, and browser capabilities. With Sudo you can generate multiple identities, each dedicated to a different online activity whether it be searching, shopping, selling, or socializing. As Shillingford explains it, “It’s personal protection to maintain separation and control of the information I provide.” Say, for instance, that I have a weird rash. This is purely hypothetical, of course. I need to Google this rash to find out if I’m dying or if it’s a weird reaction to my laundry detergent. But I don’t want Google to know I have a weird, totally hypothetical rash, so I’ll use Sudo to do my research. Or I would if this rash were real. It’s not. “The idea is to live your life online through the Sudo lens,” Shillingford says. “We give you the latitude and the ability to decide how much information you provide.”

In a few weeks Sudo will also offer a virtual credit card. So when I need to order ointment for my rash, I mean if I needed to order ointment if my rash was real, I could use Sudo’s credit card facility for a small fee and eliminate the risk of some shady ointment vendor using or selling my credit card information. Shillingford says that using Sudo for credit will “really reduce the surface area or digital exhaust that accumulates when using a card online.”

Shillingford created Sudo because he felt like the internet was fundamentally broken. “We don’t get to determine how much information we share. I either give everything or I don’t get access,” he says. “Our information is being exploited, sold, and resold. I don’t think that everybody signed up for that,” he adds. So, after working in cybersecurity and identity management for Fortune 500 companies, Shillingford started his own company about eighteen months ago and started chipping away at the boulder that is the imbalanced relationship between the Internet and the Internet user.

The app launched at Sundance and has been met with enthusiasm by thousands of users. “We’re pretty excited about the early traction,” Shillingford says. “I wasn’t quite sure how people would view this but I’ve been really pleasantly surprised.” The app was also introduced at Alt Summit, and the blogger attendees were over the moon excited that they now have a way to compartmentalize their lives with an app that lends control and empowerment.

And I have to agree. Rash or no rash, the idea that I can control what information I provide, how much information I provide, and how I provide it, is immensely attractive in an online world where someone is asking for my a detailed history of my entire life around every corner. Sudo gives me complete control of my personal information in any situation. As Shillingford says, “It’s your terms of service.”

Published 2/24/2016