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What does it mean to be transparent? In the literal sense, transparency is defined as “allowing light to pass through.” In the privacy sense, transparency means providing individuals with the ability to understand how their data is being collected, processed, shared, and stored. When designing any product, companies need to be fully transparent about what and how they are processing user data. If you feel uncomfortable about being transparent and honest with your users about what you are doing with their data, then you should question engaging in that activity. 

Armed with this information, individuals can make an informed choice to share their data and exercise control over how, when, and by whom it is used.  At Spectus, we believe that full transparency is not a luxury but the minimum standard for any company processing an individual’s data in a responsible and ethical manner.

Making Informed Choices

Our data collection framework strictly follows privacy guidelines that requires users to opt-in to location services and also makes it easy for them to opt-out. This seems like an obvious concept, but take a moment to think about how many apps collect your data: how many asked for your permission beforehand? We know that actions speak the loudest, so let’s look at some of the ways that Spectus informs users about how data is processed:

Data collection – The opt-in consent flow that we employ is specifically designed to ensure that the user can fully understand what data is being collected and how it is being used. We require our partners to state this information within the app’s consent pop-up so that users are made aware prior to choosing to share their data, even without reading the full privacy policy. We also mandate that our app publisher partners provide clear, understandable descriptions of what information is collected, what may be done with it, with whom it may be shared, and what options users have. This must be contained in our partner’s privacy policy as well as at the point of collection to make it easy for users to find relevant information prior to sharing their data.

Choice – When a user downloads one of our partner apps, they are given the choice to provide consent to data collection and use prior to any data being collected by Spectus. This message identifies Spectus as a recipient of the data and states how that data will be used. Consent may be revoked by the user at any time using one of several simple methods explained in detail in our Privacy Policy. One-third of those who download a partner app opt-out. This number provides evidence that consumers are aware of our opt-in policy and are making a conscious decision about their data.

Accountability – Data processing should not be a “black box” performed in secret. Any company claiming to be transparent should take the additional step of having their privacy practices regularly examined by independent auditors to review their practices and identify areas for improvement. Spectus undergoes annual audits by TrustArc and the Network Advertisers Initiative (NAI) as well as the U.S. Department of Commerce for our Privacy Shield certification.

opt in disclaimer screen

Partnerships – Each of our app partners is initially and frequently audited for privacy compliance requirements. We work with them to adopt the latest collection technology and consent flow, and we part ways with those that are unable to comply with the latest regulations and our high standards. On the data use side, our data partners are bound under strong contractual controls that limit their uses and require annual third party privacy audits specific to their handling of the Spectus data that is shared with them. We also make the list of our data partners public so that users may review it anytime.

Leading by Example

Companies are judged not only by their privacy practices, but who they choose to partner with as well. Upstream data partners must be clear in their collection and sharing practices. Downstream partners must be clear in how they may use data shared with them and how to secure that data. In order for this flow of data to remain clear and visible to the user (and anyone else interested in your practices) you need to provide ample opportunity for users to understand and exercise control throughout the end-to-end lifecycle of their data.

Spectus embraces this responsibility via strong contractual requirements for both suppliers and clients, regular auditing of those requirements, and constant evolution of our practices and standards to exceed users expectations and respect them as a key participant in the data ecosystem. Our hope is that by raising the bar on transparency we can play a role in making the industry more accessible and better understood, enhancing user trust and participation. We invite you to partner with Spectus in making transparency the default standard and raising the bar on what users expect from companies they choose to share their data with.

Contact us to learn more.

This article was originally authored while the Spectus Data Clean Room product was known as Cuebiq Workbench.