Privacy isn’t optional: tribute to women who take privacy seriously

By Privitar - March 08, 2019

For International Women's Day 2018, we celebrated the women who research privacy – the women who work on the technologies and academic models that help to keep your private data private. This year, we profile three women who build products that respect your privacy or who hold to account the companies that do not.

We start with Ida Tin, founder of period tracking app Clue.

Healthcare data is powerful – not only for the individuals who have access to a detailed archive of information about their own health, but also for researchers who, with the help of these huge datasets, can identify patterns and improve medical outcomes for women worldwide.

However, as we know, healthcare data is about as sensitive as it gets. That's why Ida Tin's credo – that "whenever you enter data into the larger system, you [should] know exactly what is happening to it and you feel good about it" – is so important. Her commitment to privacy and transparency, along with her commitment to meaningful research, has the power to improve the health of women everywhere.

Read more about Ida Tin and her attitude towards privacy in this Forbes piece here.

Next, we turn to Rebecca Weiss, Head of Data Science at Mozilla.

Mozilla have long been known as a company with privacy as one of their core values. For a Head of Data Science, this means that at every stage of building the data collection and data analysis pipeline, privacy and transparency need to act as the guiding principles. Rather than collecting data and deciding what to do with it after, Mozilla’s data science team have to ensure every data point collected is in line with the privacy principles they have promised to their users.

Because, as Rebecca says, "the browser knows everything", the temptation is to collect everything as well. The Mozilla project demonstrates that doing so is not necessary to creating a browser that people love; and that privacy and transparency are strong brand differentiators.

You can read an interview with Rebecca, in which she shares the principles by which her team collect and analyse data, here.

Finally, coder and privacy researcher Hang Do Thi Duc does not work for payment firm Venmo, but she did great work in calling out their default settings.

Hang found that by default, all Venmo transactions are public – and that the majority of people don't change them, leaving their intimate financial (and sometimes romantic!) dealings available for anyone to read. As Hang herself says "One would think that when it comes to money, privacy by design is of greater importance and higher demand." With 77% of consumers in our recent survey agreeing that it's the responsibility of the company to clarify what they are doing with people's data, it's likely that most people assumed their financial transactions were, by default, private.

You can read more about Hang's work in this interview.

These three women are working to make sure that their customers' privacy – and that of the public at large – is protected. Privitar wish them – and you – a very happy International Women's Day 2019.

We also have a great line up of women speakers at In:Confidence, and a special 13% discount (the equivalent of the gender pay gap worldwide) only valid on International Women’s Day with the following code at checkout:

IWD

Looking forward to seeing you there!