Protecting Location Privacy: Creating an Ethical Data Landscape

How Foursquare helps businesses leverage location data without compromising user privacy

As more businesses turn to data-driven location technology to power their decision-making, it has become increasingly critical to ensure that data is being collected and used in a manner that is ethical, transparent, and with consumer consent.

Data privacy now and in the future

The data landscape is always evolving, bringing new challenges and changing needs. Foursquare stands fully prepared to innovate and enhance existing practices to keep our consumers, customers, and partners safe. That’s why we were proud to adopt NAI’s Enhanced Standards in June 2022 – a pledge in-line with our existing policies. The Enhanced Standards reflect a long-standing desire by Foursquare and other industry leaders to develop a series of enforceable standards to curb the inappropriate use of sensitive location data in the ecosystem. 

Additionally, as members of the DAA and the IAPP, the world’s largest and most comprehensive privacy resource, our company remains up to date with the latest developments in privacy. 

Foursquare is actively engaged in these organizations and supports ongoing efforts to increase transparency, consumer understanding, and individual choice in digital advertising.

How Foursquare ensures safe data collaboration

Foursquare uses clear and direct notice language across our owned and operated apps, making sure it’s easy for consumers to access, delete, and opt-out of the usage of their data. 

When a company is looking to leverage Foursquare’s location technology, they must first demonstrate how our technology is essential to offer benefits or value to their end-user. They must also verify that data collection only occurs when the required notices have been provided and consent has been obtained. 

A commitment to restrict data use around sensitive locations

Foursquare has long had internal policies that restrict the use of our products around sensitive locations, and as part of the NAI’s Enhanced Standards, we are committed to not using, allowing the use of, selling, or sharing any information about device or user activity correlated to a known sensitive location such as such as religious centers, women’s shelters, military locations, LGBTQ centers, among others.

Foursquare’s Privacy Center is a crucial resource that outlines our stance, current policies, and the continuous steps we take to further consumer privacy protections within our company and the industry at large. It’s consistently updated to stay current – our goal is to provide consumers and businesses simplified instructions for exercising privacy rights.

Evolving privacy through Foursquare Graph

In the constant pursuit of enhancing privacy while delivering actionable insights, we recently introduced Foursquare Graph, a groundbreaking technology that bridges the gap between data-driven decision-making and the next generation of consumer privacy. This offering fills an industry void – in fact, Forrester Consulting study disclosed that 48% of data strategy leaders are hesitant to leverage location intelligence to its full extent due to the intricacies of privacy regulations. 

Foursquare Graph is a significant stride in our evolution, embodying our longstanding commitment to privacy-forward innovation. This unique application of graph technology complements our established machine learning expertise and nearly 15 years of consumer privacy protection. 

By leveraging diverse geospatial datasets, Foursquare Graph empowers us to delve into business inquiries about places and the interactions people have with them without disclosing individual movement data. It’s a shift towards analyzing aggregated trends to address vital business questions, thereby aligning with our mission of pioneering privacy-forward solutions, while helping businesses understand consumer behaviors. 

Consumers must be in control

Foursquare puts privacy first, remaining a vocal advocate for comprehensive federal privacy legislation to protect consumers from unethical, unfair, or opaque practices. 

Handling consumer data is a privilege – and it is one that we don’t take lightly. Have questions about Foursquare’s data practices? Visit our Privacy Center for more information.

Reviewed by: Michele Morelli

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