- Business Insider was able to speak with Zoe Vilain about her and Jumbo Privacy’s privacy and strategy officers.
- Vilain claimed that Brave is a privacy-focused browser and her team also uses VPN services.
- While she said people do not have privacy with social media, wellness and dating apps can be problematic for privacy. People are often less conscious that e-commerce apps collect data.
- Business Insider selected Vilain as one of our annual 10 innovators in consumer technology across Europe because of her efforts.
- Go to Business Insider’s Transforming Business page for more stories
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Consumers must be aware of how their data is being used by businesses without them knowing, as the digital epidemic has overpowered our digital lives.
Many people don’t consider the privacy policies of companies when shopping on-line or posting to social media.
Zoe Vilain is a data analyst who thinks about what that data means.
Vilain is the chief strategy and privacy officer of Jumbo Privacy. He thinks about how consumers can safeguard their privacy while not having to go through thousands of pages worth of terms and condition.
Jumbo is an app for privacy management that launched in April 2019. also raised $8 million from investors in the Series A financing. Investors included Roger McNamee (Mark Zuckerberg’s ex mentor).
Vilain provided Business Insider with some of the tips and tricks that her and her Jumbo colleagues use to ensure their privacy. Vilain also shared which apps she feels funnel most of their data off-the-record without users knowing.
Brave browser, VPNs
Brave is her favourite tool, she stated.
Brave is a privacy focused browser that launched the 1.0 version of its browser last year . It was cofounded in 2015 by Brendan Eich, former Mozilla CEO. Brave’s spokesperson stated that there are 22 million active users per month.
Many people are already using it. Vilain explained that the browser is quick, efficient, and offers a very user-friendly […] experience. While it is not perfect bulletproof, it is better than what we have right now to keep your privacy protected,” she stated, using popular browsers like Google Chrome.
Vilain explained that many Jumbo employees use VPNs.
VPNs are extensions that can hide your IP address or location. Vilain indicated that the Jumbo team uses Tunnelbear as well as NordVPN.
The free VPN apps often contain targeted ads, based on browsing history and with very little data protections. In-app advertising, which is paid for by the developer of VPN services, can be a costly way to make money. Simon Migliano of Top10VPN’s Head of Research told Business Insider that providing access to VPN servers cost money.
“These apps and other free VPN services have often poor privacy policies, failing to reduce the collection metadata. This can lead to users being identified,” he said.
Change the phone’s settings
It doesn’t mean that you need special downloaded tools in order to monitor who is watching your movements.
Vilain says another way she keeps an eye on digital privacy hygiene is to look at her settings. As a self-described privacy geek, Vilain likes to dig into her phone’s settings and see which apps may be tracking her. If she has the option to turn these off manually.
“Yesterday, I went into iPhone and wanted to verify which applications are getting my geolocation. Because I noticed the little arrow that took my geolocation when I was in Safari, I saw it,” she stated.
“So, I went back to find that so many apps still took my geolocation. When I was really sure I’d checked my settings, I realized I wasn’t. “So I check my settings regularly,” she stated.
Vilain mentioned that geolocation is one of the most critical settings to look for in an individual.
While this can be time-consuming, it is an effective way to protect your privacy. Vilain indicated that she was excited about a new Apple feature set to launch next year. This will require users to consent to certain trackers whenever they download an app.
Vilain, who spoke highly of Apple’s privacy-enhancing feature said “It’s incredible” and added that developers and businesses should seek active consent from users to be tracked under the GDPR privacy regulations in Europe.
Apple was not praised by her, but she did praise them for their new permissions. They are currently being rolled out and could be changed. Following complaints by developers including Facebook, which claimed it would hurt their ad revenues, tech giant Apple delayed rollout.
Vilain states that social media apps don’t make the most offenders. The problem is with wellness and dating apps.
Vilain explained that social media users don’t have privacy and she never tells them. She doesn’t see social media as a problem if people’s information is secretly sent to third-parties.
Vilain feels that consumers are more conscious that when a service costs nothing, it is usually a product. According to Vilain, “Okay, it’s a free service. I’m sure how they make money,” she stated.
Vilain indicated that she sees three categories of apps that are notorious for leaking user data untransparently: dating apps and apps for health and wellbeing.
“Running apps, anything monitoring you using a connected device meditation yoga, and all the other apps we have been using as mad during the COVID-19 Crisis,” she stated.
The pandemic has seen an explosion in the popularity of wellness apps and health apps. Moengage’s September report showed that between Q1-Q2 2015, apps for fitness rose by 46% worldwide. Downloads of Calm for the first time soared 36% in April.
The epidemic has also seen an increase in dating app use. Match Group, the company behind Tinder, Hinge, Match, OKCupid , has reported a 15% increase in subscribers to its Q2 report.
These services are causing concern about data theft. In fact, Norwegian scientists have found that apps such as Tinder and Grindr were sharing user data in ways which could be considered to violate both privacy laws in Europe and the US.
Vilain does not oppose the idea of apps creating a business from user data. However, transparency is her main concern.
They know their business. They have trackers for their applications. “I’m not saying it’s good, bad or right to have a tracker. I am just saying their practices are not transparent,” she added.