Privacy-preserving tech and user empowerment

Privacy-preserving tech and user empowerment

Internet at large, Crumbs, Privacy, Cornelius Witt, 05. October 2021

Privacy is of utmost importance in today’s online world. Not only is it shifting the legal landscape, with data protection laws emerging all over the globe – such as in China, Brazil, and different US states, it is also shaking up the tech and startup sector. In fact, privacy tech, meaning technologies that preserve or enhance privacy by having fundamental data protection principles built-in, is booming like never before. In the last five years, the number of privacy tech vendors has increased by the factor eight and privacy startups received more than $4 billion in investment in the over 500 funding rounds.

Recently, we at eyeo contributed to a publication by iconomy and the German AI Association which explores the potentials of privacy tech for the German and European tech ecosystem. This state-of-the-art report outlines the most important existing privacy tech solutions and provides an overview of trends and developments in the market. We are excited to have contributed to this decisive work, as it helps create an understanding of the importance of privacy tech and illustrates how businesses can not only comply with GDPR, but also get competitive advantages based on strong privacy safeguards. More concretely, privacy tech can enhance innovation by creating an opportunity for companies to gain insights from data, while simultaneously ensuring that no personal identifiable information is revealed.

At eyeo, we believe that technological solutions that incorporate privacy and data protection fundamentals are a key piece of the puzzle for creating the modern web. All our products follow the vision of putting users in control of a fair and prosperous internet, and privacy tech is becoming a more and more integral part of this. That means allowing users to decide who can get access to their data and on what terms, while always reflecting both the legal requirements of GDPR and its spirit.

Differential privacy is one of the most promising trends in privacy tech, disrupting entire branches of online industries. Described in more detail in the report, at the core of differential privacy resides the imperative to utilize user data and protect the individual user’s privacy. Based on statistical methods, datasets can be shared in a privacy-compliant manner by describing patterns of groups or interests instead of sharing information on individual users.

Following this innovative and privacy-preserving approach, our product Crumbs empowers users to remain in control of their personal data, while creating a novel monetization solution for advertisers. Crumbs is a browser technology layer that anonymizes the information of individual users and – based on the users’ choices – provides interest categories to the advertising industry to effectively address audiences, such as website visitors.

The example of Crumbs – and other use cases of privacy tech like the ones outlined in the report – prove that growing concerns about privacy are changing the web as we know it. As users are getting more aware and more concerned about their online privacy, also regulators and (some) private companies are taking action. In this context, privacy tech can become a cornerstone to create a more sustainable, fairer internet.

 

Cornelius is the Group Data Protection Officer at eyeo. In his role, he advises on privacy-related aspects in products, features, partnerships and manages eyeo’s privacy strategy and programs. Cornelius is also in charge of engaging on privacy-related matters with external stakeholders, such as business partners, associations, NGOs, or supervisory and regulatory authorities.