New Media Pledge: We Shall Not Surveil You

An upcoming new media company had to put a lot of effort into finding a newsletter provider where you can turn off tracking. Compared to most traditional media, who track us all like they were Google or Facebook, this coming investigative tech media, The Markup, has a privacy promise for the readers.

  • Our website will not expose you to third-party tracking.
  • We will collect as little personal information about you as possible, and we will never monetize this data.

Such are the words from the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of a coming investigative tech media website, TheMarkup (.org) Julia Angwin. As she writes in her first newsletter:

“Consider this newsletter. It took us five weeks to find an email provider that would disable the tracking technology in this message,” she writes and continues;
“Tracking is so standard in newsletters that it’s built into the tech. Sometimes the senders even know your physical location and what type of device you’re using when you open their newsletter. How? They embed tiny transparent images which are unique to each recipient. When you open the message, your email program will request the unique tiny transparent image and that tells the sender you opened their email — and potentially other details about how and where.”
To begin with she trusted that they could turn off tracking when using MailChimp, as MailChimp promised that in their support pages. It turned out to be a lie, and therefore she looked for an alternative, and finally landed on the Dutch start-up Revue.
At DataEthics.eu we’ve been having the same problem with MailChimp whom we left some years ago in favor of French Mailjet.com. It is GDPR compliant, but it uses Google Cloud for storage, which is a problem for us, and we are looking for an alternative. The Danish fast growing start-up EmailPlatform.com is a possibility. Here you can turn of tracking, according to the CEO Kim Østergaard, who is speaking at our yearly Data Ethics Forum October 10th. But here again they use Google Cloud, and as soon as they provide us with an alternative (e.g German Hetzner) we will move from France to Denmark.

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