ControlC: Turning Cut & Paste Into A Web Service

ControlC is an interesting new site that takes normal copy and pasting (Ctrl-C) and runs it through a web service.

At its most basic, after you create an account and install the software, any time you hit Ctrl-C, the information is saved to the ControlC website as well as your local clipboard, as simple text or as a URL link if what you’ve copied is a link. The information is both private and encrypted, although you can make any item public if you like. Public information can be accessed by friends on the site, via RSS, or an API, commented and rated. This is done via a small download that’s available for Windows or Mac machines. The entire project is open source.

What can it be used for? Well, the most obvious use is a simple way to permanently store anything you copy to your clipboard onto the web as well. It’s comparable to some social bookmarking applications that also allow copying of selected text from a website. The main difference is that ControlC works on any application, not just the browser and web pages.

Because people tend to copy so much personal information without thinking about it, security of data is a focus of the startup. Founder Ron Myers says that’s why they make data default private and also encrypt it:

Anything that is not marked as public, will be private and only readable to you. It is without question that everyone puts extremely sensitive data through their clipboard such as passwords and credit card #’s, and assuring someone this data will be safe when its being stored remotely is no easy task. Almost half of the development time that went into ControlC was to make sure that under no circumstance can private data ever be exposed, via SQL injections, XSS, or even someone breaking into the datacenter and stealing the servers with the data on them. What we do is we 2 way encrypt all private data with a unique key, per user- thats based off of their plain text password (which we do not store anywhere, only a md5) – Because we do not store this variable (and you enter it when you want to view sensitive items) even if a attacker was able to ‘hack’ a server, the data would be safe. I suppose most startups wouldnt bother acknowledging that its possible a website can be hacked, as it would make them feel ‘amateur’ but it definitely feels important enough to put out there how we secure data.

The business model is similar to WebMynd, which I covered last week – free access for a limited period of time, with a required paid upgrade if you want to access older data.

The core service is extremely simple, which is why I like it. Since it’s open source, we may see come creative variations of the service emerge. Some of the online office startups like Zoho may find a use for ControlC, for example.

Some readers may remember Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie promoting a service called Live Clipboard in March 2006. Live Clipboard allows the copy and pasting of data, including dynamic, updating data, across and between web applications and desktop applications.

ControlC is in private beta, but you can sign up using the code: beta4040. Each new account gets five invitations, so we’ve also added this to InviteShare.