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Preclusio applies machine learning to comply with GDPR, other privacy regulations

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As privacy regulations like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act proliferate, more startups are looking to help firms comply. Enter Preclusio, a member of the Y Combinator Summer class, which has developed a machine learning-fueled solution to help firms adhere to these privacy regulations.

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“We have a platform that is deployed on-prem in our customer’s environment and helps them identify what data they’re collecting, how they’re applying it, where it’s being stored and how it should be protected. We help firms put together this broad view of their data, and then we continuously monitor their data infrastructure to ensure that this data continues to be protected,” firm co-founder and CEO Heather Wade notified TechCrunch.

She says that the firm made a deliberate decision to keep the solution on-prem. “We really believe in giving our clients control over their data. We don’t want to be just another third-party SaaS vendor that you have to ship your data to,” Wade explained.

That said, clients have to run it wherever they wish, whether that’s on-prem or in the cloud in Azure or AWS. Regardless of where it’s stored, the idea is to give clients direct control over their own data. “We are really trying to alert our clients to threats or to potential privacy exceptions that are occurring in their environment in real-time, and being in their environment is really the best way to facilitate this,” she noted.

The product functions by getting read-only access to the data then begin to identify sensitive data in an automated fashion applying machine learning. “Our product automatically looks at the schema and samples of the data, and applies machine learning to identify common protected data,” she noted. Once that process is completed, a privacy compliance team have to review the findings and adjust these classifications as needed.

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Wade, who started the firm in March, says the idea formed at previous positions where she was responsible for implementing privacy policies and found there weren’t adequate solutions on the market to help. “I had to face the challenges first-hand of dealing with privacy and compliance and seeing how resources were really taken away from our engineering teams and having to allocate these resources to solving these problems internally, especially early on when GDPR was first passed, and there really were not that many tools available in the market,” she noted.

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Interestingly Wade’s co-founder is her husband, John. She says they deal with the intensity of being married and startup founders by sticking to their areas of expertise. He’s the marketing person and she’s the technical one.

She says they applied to Y Combinator because they wanted to grow quickly, and that timing is significant with more privacy laws coming online soon. She has been impressed with the generosity of the community in helping them reach their goals. “It’s almost indescribable how generous and helpful other folks who’ve been through the YC program are to the incoming batches, and they really do have that spirit of paying it forward,” she noted.

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