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Many companies utilize technological advances to great effect when collecting and processing user data. By some estimates, 90% of the world’s data was created in just the last two years – a staggering figure. Turning these bytes into useful insights and actionable intelligence requires both effort and investment, and benefits commercial and public interests alike. But with data comes responsibility, and at Spectus we are focused on leveraging innovations that empower individuals by safeguarding their data.

When Less is More

One of the key components of user-centric privacy is “data minimization”, which simply means that we limit data collection only to what is necessary to perform specific tasks. In order to be fully transparent, these data fields and their uses are clearly outlined in our privacy policy so they may be reviewed prior to a user consenting to their data being collected.

This is just the beginning of the story—there are several ways in which we use privacy enhancing technologies to make data minimization more than just words on a page. Here are a few examples:

  • Age: Spectus only uses de-identified data collected from adults, with their consent. We prohibit our partners from sharing minors’ data with us, and have developed an additional technological solution to further improve this process. Our proprietary algorithm identifies data from users that may not be adults based on probability and geographic patterns and permanently removes them from our system by erasing related devices, as well as opting them out of any future data usage.
  • Home: Respecting the sanctity of a user’s home is critical to the responsible handling of location data. In order to prevent the possibility of reverse engineering a user’s identity, Spectus applies differential privacy concepts to mask a device’s home location. We do this by automatically adding noise to the data, or “uplevelling”, which ensures that data points near a user’s home appear as centrally located in a group of at least 600 households, and often more. This maintains the utility of the de-identified data while removing the ability to connect a device to a specific home location.
  • Sensitivity: A user’s home is only one of the various locations that we regard as sensitive. There are many other locations that we protect for ethical reasons, including military bases, places of worship, social demonstrations, vulnerable populations, and others that you can read about in our Sensitive Points of Interest policy. Sensitive locations are not included in our products or made available to partners to protect user privacy and safety. Spectus actively maintains a blacklist of sensitive locations that are removed from our data as they are detected. This policy is public because we want to be transparent about our data ethics and encourage others to do so as well.
  • Identification: Spectus does not collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as name, address, phone number, etc. We use the anonymous mobile advertising ID assigned by the user’s mobile device, which the user can change or turn off at any time. Even with this level of obfuscation, we take it a step further with our proprietary, non-derivative ID system that assigns an internal ID to each user which has no connection to that user. Why do we take it this far? This process removes the link between a user’s real-world identifiers and their internal Spectus identifiers, with no link back, providing an additional layer of security and anonymity to the user.

Privacy Innovation Benefits Everyone

The incredible value of location intelligence can only truly be realized if individuals are empowered to make choices on how and when that data is used, and can trust the companies they choose to share it with to respect and protect their data. By focusing not just on innovative products, but using those same advances to eliminate unnecessary or unethical data uses and collection, the end-to-end experience is better for all parties. To learn more about our user-centric privacy practices, visit our Privacy Center.

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