What we share with each other and what we then do with this information starts at the respect we have for each other.

Something that is easily forgotten online is individual privacy. Giving out our information is such an easy thing to do when it’s a big green “Accept” button. In this post, we want to share some notes around the definition of privacy, how it affects us all, and why we should care about our information. To finalise, touch on the small effort we’re making at BranchKey with another European company that treats privacy with respect, Simple Analytics (no affiliation, we just like what they’re doing).

The Importance of Privacy

TLDR skip to how BranchKey treats privacy; Privacy is something difficult to understand, but affects every part of our lives. From how we manage our social relationships, who’s business is it to know our business, and appropriate behaviour around strangers.


“Privacy is a value so complex, so entangled in competing and contradictory dimensions, so engorged with various and distinct meanings, that I sometimes despair whether it can be usefully addressed at all.” — Robert C. Post, Dean of Yale Law

So we’re dealing with something we can’t quite define and therefore to understand or address this for us as a company or in our daily lives is not that straight forward.

Conversely, because our ability to control who has access to us, and who knows what about us, allows us to maintain the variety of relationships with other people that we want to have, it is, I think, one of the most important reasons why we value privacy. — “Why Privacy is Important” James Rachels (1975)

As an example, it’s not everyone’s business to know your medical records, or financial situation (And this is where I’ll try to tie it to modern day technology). What we give to others, be them an individual or a company of people. That information is only their business if there is a reason for them to have it, we know what we’re sharing with them, and we trust them not to redistribute that information without our consent — to be a casual gossip.

In general, a fact about ourselves is someone’s business if there is a specific social relationship between us which entitles them to know…We are often free to choose whether or not to enter into such relationships, and those who want to maintain as much privacy as possible will enter them only reluctantly

Privacy is something very difficult to address, and it’s usually not something we’re too concerned about until things go wrong.

How do we treat Privacy at BranchKey?

We want to respect our visitor’s privacy, but at the same time learn something about them to improve service. Until very recently we didn’t track anything on our website. We didn’t feel it was right to place a Google analytics tag on our website. You came to our website to deal with BranchKey, not to have Google looking over your shoulder uninvited. However, this left us with a blind spot.

A problem encountered as we operate our own website is that monitoring traffic comes with privacy considerations.

We didn’t know who, if anyone was visiting the site. To improve our offerings, the language we present in, or gauge the investment we need to make in our front-end, we needed some metrics. But the dilemma… who out there shares with us the seriousness about respecting our visitors.

Recently wecame across Simple Analytics, they summed up pretty much how we feel about the solutions on the market for tracking. Their slogan:

We care about your data. We will never sell it, our servers are located in The Netherlands, and your data is always encrypted. — Simple Analytics

To get an idea, here’s a recent blog from them on European countries blocking the use of Google Analytics. A welcome trend moving towards more individual autonomy and privacy. Large companies stepping into our lives uninvited is nothing new, but the legislation tackling this is.

7-Day snapshot for branchkey.com on the Simple Analytics Dashboard

With a tool that doesn’t breach on any individual (no cookies), we’re able to learn something about our site. To take an example from this past week. We can see roughly a third of our traffic is coming from Germany, next the Netherlands, then UAE and India. Not quite the demographic we had in mind, but valuable information for us to know (maybe we need a German translation?). In addition, the time spent on our site could be longer — maybe we need to improve there? And more internal linking to trigger some events or Call To Actions? All valuable information for us to make our website more appealing to visitors.

Not to dig too deep into this topic on the first pass. If you want to learn more for your own applications, we can recommend Simple Anlaytics, the experience so far has been what we needed. As our journey continues, taking privacy seriously is a strong driving force. Finding the balance between absolute privacy, and learning something about who’s interested in us is a difficult challenge. This blog is a collection of notes as we start exploring how to treat privacy and our users with respect but still deliver service.

Do we encrypt and hide everything, but in the process make it difficult or impossible to help our users, or do we make everything about our users visible — where we see exactly what their doing and can improve their services? Where do we stand along this line?

Any opinions let us know [email protected]