One Year After GDPR: Amplitude and User Privacy

Q&A with Amplitude CEO, Spenser Skates & VP of Professional Services, Shilpa Singh.

June 4, 2019
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One Year After GDPR: Amplitude and User Privacy

Last week was the first anniversary of the passing of the GDPR regulation. GDPR established a high standard for digital privacy and data security in Europe. This week, Apple announced their sign-in-with-Apple feature that will drive better privacy standards globally. On this occasion, we took a step back and led an internal discussion on Amplitude’s commitment to privacy and security.

Shilpa Singh, VP of Professional Services led the interview with Amplitude CEO, Spenser Skates.

Shilpa: Spenser, before we dive into user privacy, what’s the unique vision that motivated you to build Amplitude?

Spenser: Digital products are now a foundation of daily life for billions of people and yet some of the experiences we have with them leave much to be desired. Amplitude aims to give every digital consumer a better experience. And to achieve this aim, we work with companies to help them build better products. In particular, by leveraging a huge asset they have—the interactions between these users and their products. At Amplitude, we help digital teams gather product intelligence to understand this user behavior so they can ship better experiences.

Shilpa: As we build the leading company in product intelligence, how do you think about user privacy?

Spenser: First, product intelligence is about how users interact with your product, not their identity. Amplitude needs no personal information (PII) to fulfill its promise to clients. In fact, we advise customers to not share PII. This is the main difference between demographic based, traditional analytics and behavioral analytics. We focus on understanding patterns in feature usage and user experience. This dataset can be completely anonymized.

Amplitude offers its clients (organizations that develop digital products) tools that support honoring end-user consent and opt-outs within their apps. Our clients also have access to tools supporting all user access requests, including deletion and data migration.

Because Amplitude is a custodian of the data, we refer any user requests to our client organizations, who can then make use of the tools offered by Amplitude to implement deletion requests within the Amplitude platform.

In fact, over the last 12 months since GDPR was launched in Europe, over 217 companies have used Amplitude’s user deletion tools to honor the privacy requests of nearly 28M users. We have also shipped over seven new improvements to our user deletion tools, including the ability to fast track urgent requests.

As we continue building the world’s most powerful behavioral analytics solution, tools to honor privacy and expedite deletion requests are foundational to it.

Shilpa: How is analytics impacted by the efforts being made by Apple to protect user privacy?

Spenser: We believe these efforts are great for the app ecosystem. Yesterday, Apple announced a sign-in-with-Apple feature that allows users to register for products without having to necessarily share personal information like a name or email. This is a great example of anonymization, so that the people who build these products can balance the need for understanding customer engagement and user experience while still honoring privacy.

Apple’s efforts reflect an industry shift in tech companies’ efforts to better protect user privacy and personal data. In the last three months, we’ve also seen announcements from Google and Mozilla about upcoming changes to browser behavior to curb hardware fingerprinting, and Facebook and Microsoft are even calling for global standardization of privacy regulation. This is only the beginning of a positive trend and Amplitude strongly supports these developments! We work hard to ensure that our platform helps teams who build digital products to understand engagement, without compromising on user privacy. We have one of the most sophisticated and reliable identity management features built into our platform.

Spenser: Shilpa, a question for you. As our head of professional services, what would be your advice to a company that’s just starting to implement our product intelligence solution?

Shilpa: Well first, I’d say, “Welcome to Amplitude!” We collaborate with customers to ensure that their analytics implementation is responsible and honors user privacy.

We have a strong track record of supporting large enterprise customers like Microsoft. We work with many companies in finance and healthcare like Capital One and Athena Health which put user privacy at the foremost of their priorities.

Our onboarding team takes a consultative approach in helping our customers construct their data taxonomy to achieve the best possible governance and privacy standards. Data trust and good governance are foundational pillars of our process. During onboarding, an Amplitude Solutions Architect thoroughly reviews a customer’s taxonomy and suggests best practices for implementing the Amplitude platform, including recommendations to ensure that no PII (personal information) is ever accidentally recorded in their datasets.

Post onboarding, as our customers continue to ship new product features, Amplitude’s platform empowers them to track user engagement information within their product. Then as part of our ongoing Customer Success programs, our Solutions Architects conduct taxonomy reviews with customers on an on-demand basis. We treat data governance and security as paramount to maintaining customer and data trust.

Interested in learning more about Amplitude? Try a demo.

About the Author
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Data Monster
Mascot of Amplitude
Datamonster spends most of its time nom nomming data and fulfilling duties as a cultural icon and brand ambassador for Amplitude. Datamonster wants everyone to know that there's a little data monster in all of us.