Privacy is Dead. Long Live Privacy.
Nov 14th, 2019
“Hey, can I get a little privacy?”
Said everybody, at some point in their lives. But it’s a request that is virtually impossible to make online. This is a huge problem, especially at a time when your personal information is more valuable – and at risk – than ever.
With a simple click or a swipe, consumers of all ages are turning over troves of personal information in exchange for services they want, and some that they don’t. As we spend more of our lives online, we become even more vulnerable to being tracked round-the-clock, with our information – our virtual footprints – auctioned to the highest bidders, often without our knowledge or consent.
We think that’s flat out wrong.
At Starry, we look at our customers and their personal information differently. In fact, we look at as little of their personal information as possible because we collect as little of it as possible. And when we do need personal information, we ask permission.
To us, the formula on personal information is simple: if you need it, get consent.
Our team at Starry is focused on delivering a customer experience centered on providing high-quality, reliable internet access. We spend our time thinking about how we can make broadband access better and more affordable, not thinking about how we can monetize your clicks, swipes and personal information.
By focusing on the customer experience, our success is dependent on customer satisfaction. We make money when customers are happy and that’s the currency we value most, not your personal information.
As a broadband provider, we believe that’s the way the business should work – we provide you internet access because we want to connect you to the internet, not because we want to mine your personal information over our network.
In January 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) goes into effect, providing Californians the unprecedented right to see, delete, and restrict access to personal information collected by companies. We believe these protections are critically important for our customers, which is why we’re taking steps now to ensure all of our customers – not just those who live in California – will be able to access the fundamental privacy rights granted under the CCPA.
We’re unique among ISPs in that we aggressively focus on privacy as a core commitment to our customers. No doubt the privacy debate will roil on, but for us, our privacy approach is guided by five basic principles:
- All Personal Information Must be Protected Equally: We believe that all information about a customer’s physical or digital life is personal and should be treated the same. Your zip code isn’t any less or more important than your name.
- Disclosure is Mandatory: We clearly explain what information we are collecting, why we are collecting it, and what we will do with it.
- Permission is Required: We ask consumers to give their consent before we collect personal information from them.
- Personal Information Collection Must be Minimized: We collect the smallest data set necessary in order to provide our customers the services they requested or to market our service.
- Transparency, Transferability, and Deletion are Rights: We believe our customers have a right to know the information that we have collected, to receive that information in a shareable and usable way, and the right to delete that information.
Inevitably, there will be grumblings that these common-sense privacy principles are too simple, or conversely, that they go too far. To us, this is a starting point, a baseline from where we believe all companies need to begin, not necessarily end, when it comes to consumer privacy.
Your personal information is powerful and can be used to create amazing, personalized products. But when your personal information gets abused without your permission, those “personalized” products start to feel creepy and intrude on your privacy, especially when you realize the personal information you provided for a product was then sliced, diced and repackaged for sale.
We prioritize privacy because it’s the right thing to do, even if it means we give up short term opportunities and shortcuts. In today’s climate, that can be a hard choice to make – but it’s not.
Until more fulsome privacy rules are in place, consumers would do well to remember that in today’s online world, where cash was never king, your personal information is your currency. Just remember to spend well.
Chaitanya “Chet” Kanojia
Founder and CEO of Starry, Inc., a Boston-based technology and internet service provider focused on revolutionizing how consumers connect to the internet using next generation, high-capacity, fixed wireless technology to offer affordable broadband nationwide.