Frequently Asked Questions

What is a fact?

A fact is just a piece of information about you that someone else has confirmed is true. Depending on the type of Fact, different levels of authority might be needed to confirm a Fact is true, so your Mum could confirm you like pasta, but it would be safer if an identity provider, like the Government, confirmed you are who you say you are. 

If a Fact has been verified as being true by an authoritative third party it will be marked with a tick.

What do you mean 'facts' can be stored in Self?

A fact is just a piece of information about you. The most basic facts stored in the Self data store in your phone are the ones you use to sign up: your email address, street address, your phone number, date of birth the personal details on your passport or driving license.

If a fact has been verified as being true by an authoritative third party it will be marked with a tick.

You can only share facts over the Self Network which have been verified, so you should try to get as many facts verified as possible.

How is this useful?

Imagine if you've just finished a foreign language course – the course providers could attest to the fact that you've achieved a level of competence in French, and you could store this as a verified fact in Self. That would mean you could use that fact in the future, for example when registering on a job platform, so potential employers know that someone they can trust says that "Oui, ils peuvent parler français!".

One important thing is that someone doesn't need to know the details to know that a fact is true. If you're buying age restricted goods online, the retailer doesn't need to know your date of birth, they just need to know that you're over a certain age. This is a powerful way of protecting your data, while being able to prove useful things about yourself.

And all of this information is just on your phone, always under your control.

How can I be certain you're not sharing or selling all of the data I store in Self?

Put simply; we don't have your data. 

Self is a tool for making the Internet safer and easier to use. One of its features is a data store where you can safely keep important personal data. So you stored your data in your phone on your Self personal data store, and only you can access it. If it leaves your phone it's because you’ve sent it across the Self Network to a specific recipient who you are connected with in Self.

We're not just saying this. It can be proved using our Public Key Infrastructure.



How does Self compare to Two Factor Authentication apps?

Self can be used as a factor in multi-factor authentication, but because Self is proving more than that you have access to some keys it delivers more value to the organisation requesting authentication than just an app. Self can tell them that it's the specific person who should be being given access in real time. It can also add to that payload things like whether the person being authenticated has passed a KYC check and if they are the same person as the one who did the previous KYC check. Giving the organisation authentication with real value in real time.

How do I know my data is safe?

The data you store in Self is protected by several layers of security:

  1. You only store your data on the device in your hand. We don’t store your data on our systems, 
  2. You can only send data to your connections in Self when you approve a share request. That includes when you might send some data to Self Group for us to verify. So your data only leaves your phone with your permission. 
  3. You only share the specific bits of data you have been asked for, nothing else, no cookies, no usage data, nothing. 
  4. Once you've unlocked your phone, you’ll only have full access to the Self app after you’ve passed a biometric check to verify that it’s actually you.
  5. You will also be asked to create a 6 digit PIN for accessing Self in an emergency, but it will only give you access to limited functionality. You must make sure no one else has access to your PIN, so it stays safe and private. 
  6. Everything is encrypted all the time in the Self app, on the Self Network and in backups.
How do I back up the data I have in Self?

All data stored in Self is encrypted on your mobile device. Any data you share is backed-up to your phone's cloud backup (e.g. iCloud or Google Drive) in a location nominated by you during the signup process. The backups of your data and account details will be encrypted end-to-end and then stored encrypted in your device's backups. 

We don’t have any access to your backups.

It is your responsibility to keep your phone, login details and recovery details safe, and to prevent others from having unauthorised access to your data.

Do you have access to all of my data in Self?

No!

Your data belongs to you. Self's founders believe it is safer for people and better for business for you to control your data. We live by those beliefs and so we have built Self specifically to prevent us having access to your data unless - like you might with any company - you give us specific permission to see it.

Current Regulations, such as GDPR are a good start, but we think they don't go far enough. No company needs to keep your data, especially if they use Self, but sometimes the law still requires it*, so we have to hold some data. Our privacy policy governs what personal information of yours we hold, why we hold it and how we use it. It forms part of the terms and conditions you agree to when you use Self.

*We would hold no personal data if we could get away with it.

Which facts can I verify with Self?

The Self app is a tool which lets you verify facts about yourself, so that you can use and share them safely when you need to over the Self Network. At beta launch the number of Facts that Self will support is limited (things like identity and contact information), but eventually we will support almost any piece of information which can be verified by someone else. 

All of this information stays on your device, under your control. It is never stored in the Cloud or in a big database with other peoples Facts. It’s just on your phone. 

You can only share facts over the Self Network which have been verified, so you should try to get as many facts verified as possible.

How much does Self cost?

Self is free to join as an individual user for personal use and the core features will always be free to you in the future.

Our business model is to charge the businesses using Self a small amount of money every time they ask to check a fact about you – such as your phone number, address, qualifications, passport number etc. – when you choose to connect with them using Self. They get certainty that the information you've shared is true, and you can be sure that your data isn't being used in ways you haven't explicitly agreed to.

In the future we may release new features, which may carry a charge, but these will always be optional.

For full details of our pricing and packages for businesses, see our Pricing page.

How does Self compare to password storage apps like 1Password and LastPass?

Self supports allows authentication without the need for usernames, passwords or anything you need to remember – just being you is enough. Lots of sites will still use passwords and usernames for a long time to come, so for those, password apps are great, but where you can login with Self it’s easier and safer than usernames, passwords or 2FA.

What protects my data after I've given access to it to a company? What stops them misusing it, losing it or spamming me?

Every time you grant access to a piece of your data to a third party, you do so for a purpose that says what they can and can't do with it and how long they can have it for. So for example a car hire company might need your address for as long as you have their car, but when you return the car they should delete your address.

Before Self they needed your details to contact you. Now, because you are connected to them through Self, they can contact you if they need to and they can ask for the address again if they need it. So they don't need to keep it, and it's very clear if they choose to use the data for something else that they are in breach of your agreement and the law.

Why do I need to take a selfie?

Your face is a key to unlock the data you store in Self on your phone. Your App uses the selfies you take to be sure you are the person who should be accessing your data. It compares them to pictures of you on official documents and in other verified images you share with the App. Your app will learn about your face and use it to keep you and your data safe.

This knowledge helps you keep your data secure, and it helps the people and companies you're connected to know that you are you.

Like all the data you put into your app, your selfies are not stored on our servers, they're just in your phone.

Why is it better to store my data on my phone than in the cloud?

Security, security, security.

Data stored in ‘the cloud’ is actually stored on servers located all over the world. These servers can be accessed from absolutely anywhere and the data on them is only as safe as the humans that set up the protection around them. As many high profile data breaches have shown (Twitter, British Airways, Zoom, the list goes on), these security measures are not up to the task of keeping out ever more skilled and ambitious hackers.

If your data is stored on your phone, it can’t be hacked like this. The fingerprint or face scan you use to unlock your phone is almost impossible to hack and, so is the data itself. 

The other issue with allowing companies to store your personal data is that once you’ve given a company some of your personal information, it’s easy to forget what you’ve shared with them and impossible to control how they use it. This misuse of data is becoming more widespread as businesses try to squeeze more and more value out of the information that they hold about their customers.

When you store your data on your device you remain in complete control of that information. You decide exactly which pieces of data to share with a company and you will be able to decide precisely what they can use it for and how long they can keep it.

If everything is stored directly on my phone, what happens if I lose it or I'm upgrading?

This information is all backed up when you perform your usual phone backups, either to Apple iCloud, Google Drive or whichever system you use. As these backups are also encrypted, it means that your backups can only be accessed by you.

That's why when you create your Self account we give you a recovery key. Keep a secure record of this, it is what will let you get your data back if you lose access to it or to your account. 

If you're replacing a lost device or just upgrading to a new one, then just use the recover account button on the first setup screen to restore your account and data. 

And don’t worry about someone accessing your Self on a stolen device. They can’t, only you can do that.

Why is signing in with Self better than using my email & password?

Firstly because it’s easy, the Self app gives you a tool for signing in which uses biometrics to mean you don’t need to remember usernames and passwords or go through the hassle of entering codes sent by text or email. 

Signing in with Self is also safer.  It’s a decentralised, 3 Factor Authentication (3FA) tool secured with biometrics and an ID check. 

As Self develops it will also enhance your online experience, giving you control over cookies, the adverts you see (no more being bombarded with ads for that thing you just bought for example) and the interactions you have with brands and sites you use. Because Self is more than just a way to log in – it gives you the ability to share just the specific pieces of information that companies or other people need to deliver the services you've agreed to.

I'm working for a business and I'm interested in using Self on our sites and services. How can I get in touch?

We'd love to talk to you. Drop us a line and we'll be in touch.

What if I want to delete the data I have in Self?

You can delete your data at any time by uninstalling the app. You will still be able to recover the data from your backup for a period after the app is deleted depending on your backup settings. 

To be forgotten entirely by Self you will also need to have deleted your account. Once your account has been deleted, your Self account number can be recovered, but any other data you've stored in Self, including all personally identifiable data, will no longer be available – we don't keep your data on our servers.