Privacy is hard if you hunger for data

After I left Google I started looking into Mycroft, which is an open source alternative to Amazon Alexa or Google Home but promises to provide better privacy. Unfortunately, that concept of privacy seems to be elusive to the company behind Mycroft. Not only did they send out a survey using a third party with a poor privacy reputation, but the apology for that survey was posted on the Mycroft blog, which has multiple tracking technologies that are blocked by ghostery, including ones from Google, Pinterest, and Facebook.

The usual response to such things is “but but but … so convenient for users!” or “but but but how can we track our users?” This is apparently the world we live in – even companies that apparently want to provide a better privacy story are unable or unwilling to confront what that means. The reputation of your company is only as good as the reputation of your partners.

Coincidentally, Google today sent out a reminder that sites using Google Analytics must review their data retention settings to comply with GDPR by May 25th. They attempt to make a distinction between a User-ID and an Android Advertising ID (which is unique to each phone).  In case you are unaware, the latter is a random ID that may be reset by the user, but it’s sufficiently well hidden that 99.9% of users will never find it. It is readable by all apps on an Android phone. This kind of skullduggery is a big part of the reason why I decided to leave Google.