Great news for privacy lovers.  More specifically, great news for Apple iPhone and iPad users who received a new privacy feature on Monday called App Tracking Transparency (ATT).

This new feature is a significant step for user privacy because it gives Apple users more control over their mobile phone app data and how it’s used (misused) by companies, like Facebook and Google, to target ads.

There’s no question this move will frustrate app developers,  tech companies and data brokers  who have profited from the reservoir of user data for years, and who fear they’re likely to be cut off from it in the near future.  It’s kinda like 40% of US nonprofits removing their donors’ names, addresses and mailing lists from the co-operative prospect databases.

Along with Google’s recent announcement that they would end all third-party data tracking on their Chrome browser, this development signals a new era in which major tech platforms are starting to acknowledge the damage that tracking has done to personal privacy and to confidence in democratic institutions.

Any marketer, publisher, tech platform, or fundraiser with half a brain needs to do a major re-think of dangerous, abusive tracking policies. You listening, Facebook?  You listening digital fundraisers who heavily depend on the crack cocaine that is Facebook?

Just how abusive is this privacy-invading tracking?

Bob Hoffman, the inimitable observer and marketing curmudgeon illustrates the point perfectly:

“Let’s take a look at an innocent publication like Smithsonian Magazine. You probably can’t imagine that visiting the website of an organization like this can do you any harm, right? Think again.

Dr. Augustine Fou did some forensics on the [Smithsonian] website.  Here’s what he found.  When you go to the Smithsonian website you think you are interacting with one party.  You do not know that 2,200 other entities are loading crap into your browser to track you and harvest your data.  Then these ad tech creeps can profit from pimping your into all over the web.”


Pretty awful, huh?  I sure think so.  And the same can be said for the flood of unsolicited direct mail that usually follows my making a first gift to one of those many charities that promptly dump my (decoyed) name and address into a co-op direct mail database.

I wanted to see how much was harvested through The Agitator website so following Bob Hoffman’s illustration I entered the Agitator website into Dr. Fou’s Page X-Ray Tool to see how much crap the platform we use passes along.  Here’s what I found.

Other than connections to other links that hold our feedback and search functions was happy to see no data sharing or harvesting there.  Our Privacy Policy seems intact.

If you want to check on a website, here’s the link to Dr. Fou’s Page X-Ray Tool.  Just type in the URL of the website and you’ll get an “xray.”

We realize that it’s rich in irony for the Agitator to be providing a privacy policy and an uncooperative website for readers in an industry that routinely rents and exchanges its donors’ names and addresses to other nonprofits with little or no notice or permission whatsoever in order to create what many donors consider a nuisance.

Nonetheless, here’s The Agitator’s privacy deal.  As simple and clear as we can make it despite the best efforts of our whining, nit-picking lawyers to obfuscate and make it more complex: We make no personal data available through cooperative relationships with third parties.

When it comes to our readers’ privacy and their data, we really are anti-social.  We aim to keep it that way and urge other fundraisers to do the same.

Thank you Apple.




%d bloggers like this: