Simon Davies, who has been involved with campaigning on privacy issues for a number of years, is launching a privacy consultancy firm called 80/20. Half of all profits will be donated to overseas civil liberties causes.
Davies, who is also a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, is trying a new tack to raise the profile of privacy issues. Instead of berating companies whose practices he believes are suspect, Davies instead will work with them to sort through problems.
"I've fighting privacy issues for 20 years, and the idea of 80/20 has been gestating for 10 years," Davies told me on Monday. "Instead of the usual polemic around privacy, this is an attempt at direct engagement."
80/20, a company Davies will head, will instead sell services including privacy impact assessments of new technologies companies are planning to implement, and privacy training. "This is a way to focus assistance on companies who want to find solutions," said Davies.
However, Davies said he would have "no qualms about affecting the share price of companies" if he thought they were doing the wrong thing. "Constant war is draining, we have to find other solutions," said Davies. "But if companies don't respond and don't care about privacy issues they're going to have to accept a slapping in the press."
80/20 will be invloved in a working group to examine how to achieve "a legally acceptable means of establishing consumer consent for online services such as search engines." Companies involved in the working group include BT, AOL, Microsoft, and Facebook.