Building Privacy into Ghostery Products

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Jordanna Kalkhof juillet 21, 2020

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Our main goal at Ghostery is to build products that protect, educate, and empower users to take back control of their online experiences. A crucial part of achieving this goal is incorporating the fundamental values of privacy into our own business and products and holding ourselves accountable to the standards we promote. To do this, we make privacy a priority throughout our entire business process – from day-to-day operations to how we engineer and design our products.

 

Engineering & Operating for Privacy

A key theme in the engineering and operations of Ghostery is control. This is true for our own products, as well as the services we use for business tasks. Having a high level of control over what we use allows us to set our own privacy baseline and threshold of tolerance. In many cases, this means going the extra step and building our own solutions, as opposed to using pre-existing ones that don’t align with our business values. However, we can’t build everything. Using third parties for certain tasks is unavoidable. In these cases, we are careful to choose businesses that meet our privacy standards by providing transparency and control. For example, we often look for products that are open source, allow self-hosting, and so on.

 

Realistic Practices & Their Price

As a digital privacy company that helps users protect their data, it is imperative that our products and services protect data as well. A few ways we aim to accomplish this is by:

  • Being clear and transparent with our users through open communication
  • Not collecting unnecessary personal data
  • Limiting our analytics to avoid using the technologies we empower our users to block (trackers, pixels, etc.)
  • Giving users as much control as possible over their settings in our products
  • And, as mentioned above, building our own solutions when possible and maintaining our standard of privacy with partners when it is not.

Making privacy a priority doesn’t come without its challenges. There is an ongoing weighing of costs and the privacy standards we want to uphold. The previously mentioned aspects of engineering and operating often require more time and resources than the average company. Additionally, there are times when we must say no to opportunities that are helpful in the growth and success of other businesses but go against our company beliefs. Ultimately, we believe these costs are worth the lower risks of exposure and increased transparency and consumer trust.

 

Designing for Privacy

The design of our products starts with a discovery process. During this process, we speak to existing and potential users to understand and uncover issues they have in the privacy space. After analyzing our findings and identifying key themes, we work to find ways to address these issues while balancing business and stakeholder goals. This includes thinking through how we can design potential solutions while keeping our privacy values at the core.

Something we have found to be consistently true, having completed this process numerous times, is this: Transparency is key for users to be and feel protected. For our design team, this has meant incorporating features into the UX/UI of our products that let users know what the product is doing and what is happening on the page. Additionally, we strive to empower users by giving them control over what they can do with the product. For example, the ability to block trackers at a granular level, customize settings, etc.

 

Design Dilemmas

Making these types of features a reality is usually easier said than done and requires finesse. It is a balancing act to provide users with the transparency and controls they want without overloading the UI. If there isn’t enough transparency and control, users may become skeptical and abandon the product. If too much information and too many elements are added to the UI, the user experience can be overwhelming, and again, users may abandon the product.

We work hard to find the right balance in Ghostery products. Tradeoffs are inevitable and we may not always get it right on the first try. But by listening to user feedback, we are able to make improvements and continue pursuing an optimal solution.

 

Let’s Talk Privacy

As mentioned, open communication is something we value here at Ghostery. We’d love to chat about any comments or questions you may have in regards to Ghostery products or the privacy sphere in general. Reach out to us on social media or contact our support team at support@ghostery.com.

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