Foursquare and your privacy: continuing the commitment as CEO

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During turbulent times, it’s important that companies stand for something. Foursquare believes that Data is a Privilege. I am proud to say that as Foursquare’s CEO, we stand by that commitment.

I’ve worked in the location industry for nearly a decade, and one of the things I admired most about Foursquare before joining was its strong commitment to privacy. Foursquare’s approach to privacy concerns continually raised the bar, and even set standards, for the rest of the industry. When I officially joined Foursquare, and especially through my recent appointment as CEO three months ago, it was rewarding to see just how strong Foursquare’s commitment to privacy was and how deep—tactically and philosophically—it went.

Foursquare does not just institute policies that protect consumers within its own operation. It has worked to set industry-wide standards, and has advocated for federal regulation that would ensure every company in this industry abides by those standards. It’s about doing what is right, even at the expense of revenue, as the focus is on the long-term at Foursquare.

Today, as Foursquare’s CEO, I am proud to say that our stance and our commitments on privacy remain as strong as ever. For those less familiar, let me recount Foursquare’s journey as a leader in privacy:

  • Towards the end of last year, we published an op-ed in The New York Times demanding federal privacy regulation built on three pillars: consumer value; transparency and consumer control; and a Hippocratic Oath for data scientists. We must first do no harm.
  • Before that, we spoke publicly about this on the Vergecast podcast in February 2019.
  • We held our first annual tech ethics training in mid-2018, and ethics training is now mandatory for all Foursquare employees.
  • Foursquare has some of the strongest privacy policies in the industry. We demand our partners include value exchange for consumers, consumer transparency and control, and consumer protection. For those consumers who want no part of location tech, we make opt-out easy.
  • We helped to found the Mobile Marketing Association’s Location Privacy Alliance.
  • And perhaps most importantly, the vast majority of our safeguards have been in place since our technology was created.

We have laid out what these privacy concepts mean to us on our website and why we believe they are important. We live by our motto ‘Data is a privilege’, which we undergird with three key tenets:

  1. Value Exchange
  2. Transparency and Control
  3. Consumer Protection

Under my leadership, this approach will not change. Technology and industry standards may evolve and may require us to revisit how those tenets apply. Yet our commitment to them is rock solid, where we will not only follow the written law, but the spirit of the law.

There are many challenges we face in today’s world. Technology and location technology in particular can help us understand them in unique ways, but it’s only achievable with consumer trust. The trust that consumers put into Foursquare is earned by treating data as a privilege and not a right. We believe the dialogue on privacy should and will crystallize in the near future.

I am proud to be the CEO of a company and team as special as Foursquare. As I push Foursquare to continually improve, I’m excited to know that the company is raising the bar for privacy ever higher. Under my leadership, that commitment will continue to push forward, as being the leader in location, comes with a responsibility to push an industry to a greater good when it comes to location and consumer privacy.

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