Privacy is Hard: Analytics

When speaking of web analytics and privacy, its not something I typically think of going hand-in-hand.

I mean, conventional wisdom may argue that we want to know as much as possible about those visiting our sites so we can ensure we’re writing content properly, building features out properly, and targeting all of the necessary metrics to make sure our site is successful.

And there’s truth to that, sure. But there’s still a level of privacy around what the user is sharing (and perhaps how it’s managed, who stores it, for how long, etc.).

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Privacy is Hard: File Syncing

When we’re working on a variety of devices – be it our computers, our tablets, or even our phones – it’s definitely convenient to have access to certain types wherever we are, right?

And with files aside, our phones have such powerful cameras now; it’s nice also to have the ability to store our photos but also to free up space on our phones (although this may be a tertiary issue for you regarding file syncing).

Anyway, there are a lot of services that are available that allow you to store your files in the cloud and to access them anywhere. It’s easy to tout security and privacy and, yes, we can do things on our end like enable two-factor authentication.

But what about the actual files themselves? That is, we can make it more difficult to log in and access the files but what about those on the other side who work at the company responsible for storing the files?

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Privacy is Hard: Email

A few weeks ago, I started writing about a couple of things related to privacy on the web (which is a topic that I think many of us think about in some capacity).

You can catch up on everything I’ve written about thus far, but this post is going to follow-up with something I mentioned in the previous post.

Specifically, I mentioned a simple alternative for not giving out your email address.

Although Burner Mail works well, I also think it’s worth using third-party services for your standard email, too. After all, it’s worth having your privacy protected there, too, right?

BurnerMail (and services like Throttle) are great for providing temporary email addresses with which you can still access those messages for some time.

Email Privacy: BurnerMail

But what if you’re looking for an actual email service that respects privacy and, say, doesn’t parse the information in your inbox to generate advertisements (or other similar functionality)?

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Privacy is Hard: Web Browsing

Two weeks ago, I started talking a bit about my concerns regarding privacy – which may be the same as yours – and decided I’d start running down a list of things that I’m trying, using, and doing to adhere more to privacy-centric software and services.

Here’s the thing though:

  • what I’m comfortable with using may not be the same for you (and vice versa),
  • and privacy and security are not terms that I use interchangeably.

Going into this series, I want to make sure I’m working off of a consistent definition of privacy. You can see the whole definition here but for the purpose of these articles, I’m going to be using the following:

Privacy grants us freedom from the public; concealed.

So any service that compromises that definition on any level would be something that violates privacy. Furthermore, it’s hard to find things that are purely private is near impossible so we have to make tradeoffs.

And I’m going to lead with that.

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Privacy is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!

This isn’t something that’s really WordPress-development related. It is, perhaps, tangentially so and it’s something that I’m likely going to be talking about on this blog and in a few of the upcoming podcasts so I thought I’d go ahead and bring it up now.

For many of us, we’re well aware of the privacy implications of the software and services many of us use on a day-to-day basis even if we’re not sure just how this information is shared.

Anyway, since this is something that does tie back to WordPress, data-ownership, and so on, it seems fitting to discuss at least periodically.

I think there’s a level we’ve been comfortable with certain aspects of privacy and how data is shared (some have a higher threshold than others for it, sure) but it’s beginning to reach an unsettling level for me.

But let me back up.

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