Articles Tagged privacy
They've Got Your Backers in Entrepreneur Magazine
What I describe below came about because of the generous advice and critique we have received from users and privacy experts on the subject.
The Privacy Report
The Privacy Report shows each individual user the exact information that POPVOX has on file about them and why and what we do with that information. It lists your information in categories such as your email address, your street address, and your bookmarked bills and explains why it's important for us to keep this information on file. For instance, we maintain for a period of time a record of all delivered correspondence to your Members of Congress, even if you subsequently delete your comment, in order to protect the integrity of our relationship with you and Members of Congress. We don't want someone claiming we didn't send a letter when we did, or that we sent a letter when we didn't.
You have to be logged in to see what we know about you, of course.
Do Not Track
Do Not Track (DNT) is a new approach to allowing web users the ability to state their preference to opt-out of being tracked by services they may not be aware are collecting data about them. Although there is no one adopted standard for how web sites are supposed to behave in order to be Do Not Track-compliant, POPVOX has taken some initial steps.
DNT is essentially only relevant to advertisers (not us) and widgets. We provide a number of widgets that blogs and advocacy websites can embed to show information from POPVOX. Most of our widgets are already compliant with the prevailing DNT guidelines, and we're working on making all of our widgets DNT-compliant soon.
Although the Do Not Track guidelines are not actually relevant when you visit POPVOX.com directly, we take the unprecedented extra step of embedding only DNT-compliant third-party resources on POPVOX if you have turned on your browser’s DNT option. That means that when you visit POPVOX.com, your DNT preference will be respected by us and any other web content loaded on our site by your browser.
Right now what that means is that we won't embed Google Maps on POPVOX if you have the DNT option turned on in your browser because we know Google Maps will not respect your DNT choice. (Actually only about 3% of our users will ever be shown a Google Map anyway --- we use it in a small number of cases to help you pick out your location.) All of the other third-party resources we currently embed in POPVOX follow the DNT tracking guidelines (they haven't adopted DNT but they comply with the guidelines anyway).
I think we're unique in actually changing the content of our pages in response to your DNT choice to make sure that your POPVOX experience respects your choice, even if DNT itself doesn't say anything about doing that.
For more see our DNT page .
At many points, the team discussed that POPVOX has a strong business imperative to get privacy right. Civic engagement is different than many other online activities. It requires a neutral, trusted platform. At several points in our discussions, we found ourselves asking, “if we don’t do this, who will?”
The policy is not boilerplate. We asked experts and debated clauses and pared down where we could while staying within the confines of what our lawyers advised. With the legalese structure in place, we will continue to seek input, refine the policy and make improvements when we find a better approach.
A few days ago, I posted the question “ what are privacy best practices for start-ups? ” on Quora , a question-and-answer site that has become a place for discussion for the tech/startup world. I also joined a weekly Tuesday " Privacy Chat " on Twitter, hosted by @CenDemTech (The Center for Democracy & Technology ) and @PrivacyCamp , in which interested participants discuss several privacy-related questions by following the #privchat hashtag. I am grateful to the participants in that chat and Quora contributors, and wanted to respond to some points that came up directly. Points made via twitter are in italics below:
POPVOX is a platform for civic engagement that must address two potentially contradictory data needs: (1) The need to provide users with a safe, trusted environment for providing input on legislation - input that can sometimes be quite personal or private, and (2) The need to provide very specific, personally identifiable data to Congress, to ensure that constituents’ input is weighed appropriately.
POPVOX only works if we balance these two requirements appropriately. Here is how we address them:
1. You can use the site without creating an account. You can access bill information, comments, position papers from organizations.
2. In order to take a position on a bill or leave a comment, you must create an account. You may create a new, name/password login; we also allow the option of using Google, Twitter or LinkedIn OAuth. The information is shared in the following ways:
- Your real name, email, & physical address are shared in an email to your legislator . (This is an “only as much data as we need” issue: your legislator requires it in order to process your message.)
- Your screen name, Congressional district, and comment are publicly available on POPVOX. The public nature of your comment is the key to the effectiveness of POPVOX - to show real-life, curated examples of what people really think about legislation. If you do not want your comment to be public, just choose to support or oppose without leaving a comment, and email your legislator outside of the POPVOX platform.
- If you come to POPVOX via a link from an advocacy organization and you opt to share your information with that organization (via a check box identifying the option and the Organization’s name under the “take action” button) your name, email, and zip code will be shared with that organization.
@alexanderhanff #privchat also you have to be approachable. if a potential or existing customers wants to talk about privacy don't just send them to PPSee above or find me on Twitter @marcidale .
@NovakKevin #privchat: do your homework upfront before running off in developmentHomework never done... we will continue to refine.
@jdp23 Fair Information Practices. get feedback from experts and consumers! treat it as a business priority.#privchatYes! It is a key business priority for POPVOX. It is in our business plan and a part of our "pitch." We will continue to solicit feedback and this is an open invitation.
@GetAbine Collect only the data that's absolutely necessary, & be clear & open about that with customers.#privchatWe think we have struck the right balance on this with the policy described above. Let us know if you agree.
@PogoWasRight If you're gutsy, run your PP by privacy advocates to see what questions or concerns we have while reading your policy. #privchat(We asked a lot of others too.)
@GetAbine Dedicate your startup to privacy protection & never sway in your vision. Don't sell out. Don't be evil.#privchatYes! You help make this possible when you support businesses that respect privacy. Help us show our investors -- and investors in other startups -- that this is a viable business model.
@alexanderhanff Haha, well what about lawyers who ARE privacy advocates? We exist; I'm one of them.#privchatThis lawyer salutes you and we would love your input on our existing policies and how they could be improved.
@alexanderhanff #privchat once established, don't stop, have regular #privacy audits and reviews the same as you do for other areas of your businessThis is a great suggestion that we intend to implement on a regular basis.
@WarrenEHart don't be a weasel. Tell me up front if you're going to use my name / comments in ads to my friendsYour screen name and comments can be shared by anyone who finds them interesting to help bring attention to the issue you weighed in on. POPVOX works because comments on bills are public, and searchable, and shared... and taken into account by media and decision-makers. And please always call us out if we ever cross into "weasel" territory.
#privchat Net of discussion: HTTPS = "just do it"We did!The input continues to come in and with your help, we will continue to learn, refine, and work to make POPVOX a leader in online privacy.
(For media inquiries, please contact Marci Harris, POPVOX’s CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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