For web companies, privacy must be a core value

March 21, 2018

In light of the unfolding scandal that more than 50 million Facebook users data have been illegally collected by Cambridge Analytica for political activities, Kumbu reaffirms its commitment towards respecting user privacy.

It is urgent that web companies put privacy at the core of their values

Our personal experienceat Kumbu, and that of companies that share these values have shown that it is possible to develop innovating and useful businesses while respecting people's right to privacy. Commiting ourselves to this reponsability required a paradigm shift: it is mandatory that apps and social networks respect people's data. web actors will now be classified in two groups: responsible companies that respect users privacy, and the rest.

1. A responsible web company's business model cannot rely on selling user data

Behind free apps and social platforms lurks a very common business model: data monetization, which takes place through collection and transmission of the data that is "shared" by a user. This data may be used in situations that the user is not aware of, hasn't anticipated nor accepted. Like the communication campaign that aimed to unwittingly influence American voters - the Cambridge Analytica scandal is just one of the most recent example.

2. A responsible web company does not collect more data than necessary to deliver its service

Only the data that is necessary to provide an expected service must be collected by web companies. For example, if a user's email address is enough to login to a service and to receive proper support, then it must be the only data that is collected. If a phone number is used for two-factor authentication, it shouldn't be used to send ads. Data that is not shared on a user's public profile should not be collected. 

3. A responsible web company does not collect data outside of what its users have shared

It is common knowledge that Facebook and other social platforms secretly aggregate data from 3rd party sources, either public or private, in order to better qualify their user profiles. This aggregation, which is made without the user consent nor knowledge has happened to people that don't actually have a Facebook account. Consolidating data from various sources, without informing users, is simply unethical.

4. A responsible web company commits to total transparency towards its privacy policy and practices

Respecting users private information is a major concern that must be dealt with very seriously. Businesses must commit to answer any question from their users: « What do you do with my data? » ; « What data do you have exactly? », « Where is my data stored? ». This transparency commitment is what allows users to validate and control a web actor's practices. It's also a prerequisite to restore people's trust.

5. A responsible web company must give users full access to their data

Every data, both created and collected, belongs to the user who must be able to access it as part of the service, and in a timely manner. Web platform that holds content and data hostage.

Ten years of social web have showed the limits of building web businesses on the exploitation of data. The dizzying number of scandals and abuses that unfolded are the tip of the iceberg, and it hurts the whole system. 

It is now time for the "social" web to evolve towards an "ethical" web that respects users fundamental right to privacy.

This evolution will not hamper economic growth neither the creation of innovating services. On the contrary it's an opportunity to develop new business models that respect people's privacy. Initiatives like “My Data” are showing the path. Regulations like GDPR will apply. It's now the opportunity for responsible web actors to step in and transform these simple rules into future successes so everyone can trust the web again.

The Kumbu Team
Ziad Wakim, Arnaud Bressier, Diane Wakim, Bart Arribe, Anna Hervé, Audrey Bramy, Cossi Nonnonhou


About Kumbu

Kumbu is the first souvenir box designed for the digital era: our mission is to help individuals preserve their digital memories and content that were born on the web, social networks, apps and devices. Respecting users privacy is in our DNA since forever and Kumbu Day 1. For more information about Kumbu, please visit our website.

Ziad Wakim

In Paris. Building the @getkumbu Digital Souvenir Box. I also do #ECM for @EVER_TEAM.

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