One real issue behind the Mint.com sale to Intuit: who owns the data?

A few days ago, mint.com, a fantastic online personal finance tool, was sold to Intuit. A number of users are disappointed, and some are downright pissed, claiming the “next generation bends over.” Well, first of all, that’s ridiculous, a company sells when it wants to sell, and there are may ways to change the world, sometimes outside the system, sometimes within the system. But here’s one issue that some users have certainly noticed: what happens to the data?

If mint.com were an installed piece of software on your desktop computer, Intuit’s acquisition would be notable, but users could safely ignore it until the product’s features were affected in some way. Now that the data is in the cloud, the acquisition is a huge game changer. Will the same privacy policy stay in place? Will Intuit use the data in intrusive ways that mint.com didn’t entertain? Will Intuit’s data safety practices be as good as mint.com’s?

Mint.com’s founder has declared that the service will remain free to individuals. That’s great, but it’s my data. I’m not sure I want Intuit to have it. Will mint.com give me the option of leaving and erasing all of my data before going over to Intuit? Will they actively notify all of their users before this incredibly personal data changes hands? Will they make the bold, but ultimately right, decision, of making this move to Intuit opt-in, rather than opt-out?

They should. I fully support mint.com’s ability to choose its own destiny, but I want to make sure I get to choose mine, too. I hope mint.com does the right thing here. My data shouldn’t end up in Intuit’s hands just because I wasn’t paying close attention.