09

My data, my privacy: ethical data analytics

By
Nina Müller, ECA Director

This episode explains how to protect your customer’s privacy and gain valuable insights with a privacy-first analytics tool.

WHO'S OUR ETHICAL ALLY GUEST?

Adriaan van Rossum is an entrepreneur, engineer and ethical activist. He’s the co-founder of Simple Analytics, the analytics tool that offers valuable insights without making you pay with your customers’ personal data. 

At the young age of 16, Adriaan learned how to create websites from his brothers and has stuck to coding ever since. After a brief and unfulfilling time at university, he started building a business — several in fact — before finally settling on founding Simple Analytics.

A PRIVACY-FIRST ANALYTICS TOOL IS BORN

The idea for Simple Analytics came to Adriaan during freelance work for a customer, installing Google Analytics on their website with all the trackers and cookies that come with it. With a nagging feeling of discomfort, it was finally Adriaan’s girlfriend who connected the dots and suggested building his own analytics tool that is more human-friendly than existing ones.

This was in 2018, which coincided with the birth of GDPR, a first step to better protect people’s privacy. But apart from that, there was not much going on to safeguard people’s private data online. In the podcast, Adriaan draws us a vivid picture about an Internet Explorer bug at the time that allowed you to read people’s emails!

His background as an engineer and understanding of website architecture and potential security vulnerabilities opened his eyes not only to the risks, but also the responsibility that comes with his passion for privacy and profession in tech. A huge opportunity had opened up: this responsibility was actually an advantage that enabled him to come up with better, more sustainable solutions that now form the basis of Simple Analytics.

As Adriaan explains, a primary concern for privacy protection is who owns your data and their intentions for using it.

‘For me, that’s the main driver of privacy. If (your data) is in good hands, it’s probably not a problem. If it’s in your own hands, it’s also not a problem. But if it’s in the hands of someone who wants to do bad (things), then you have a problem.’

WHY CHOOSE AN ETHICAL DATA TOOL OVER A FREE MODEL?

The most challenging target group for Simple Analytics is ecommerce businesses, as they rely so much on data to calculate conversions, which marketing campaign works best, etc. So for most ecommerce, the easiest way to achieve these goals also means violating GDPR — by violating people’s privacy and gaining insights through information they didn’t consent to share.

Adriaan points out that while a free version of tools like Google Analytics may be free of monetary costs, businesses are ultimately paying with their customers’ data. In contrast, Simple Analytics has always been fully GDPR compliant.

PARTNERING WITH THE ECA

Having partnered with the Ethical Commerce Alliance, Adriaan hopes to meet new people who inspire and challenge him to evolve Simple Analytics and even help to solve a problem they were stuck with. He looks forward to discussions on being an ethical company with others and how applying ethics in your business does not contradict your drive for revenue and growth.

The more customers who raise their concerns about how their data is being collected and stored, the more businesses will realise the importance and adapt to the customer’s needs.

But at the same time, people need to be supported to make better decisions about their privacy. In the podcast, we discuss the need for a better approach to educate users about the potential negative consequences of always accepting all cookies. The Internet needs a better privacy solution than cookie banners, which are more of an annoyance to everybody than helpful.

As my conversation with Adriaan reveals, there are so many opportunities to run your business in a privacy-friendly way. Your businesses can be profitable while respecting the humans behind the screen.

Ready to learn how? Hit that play button and find out!

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