Letting go

My newsletter does not track you

If you receive my newsletter (you totally should. It's awesome!), you already know, that I don't track open rates anymore. I send only plain text emails, without any tracking. This is important to me, because I don't believe in tracking users and I value your privacy.

Tracking users shouldn't be done. People shouldn't need to jump through hoops to keep their anonymity. Which leads me to this email. Until last email I used open and click tracking from Mailchimp to see how many opened my mails. While my open rates are somewhere between 30 and 40% (that’s way above industry average according to Mailchimp), it doesn't really change anything for me if that number is 40% or 25%. I write these emails to you, to share opinions and discuss ideas with you. If you read it, that makes me happy. If you respond, I am proud and lucky to have an audience like you. I do not need to track any open rates anymore. That’s the main reason why you see only a very reduced version of this email from now on.

Well, I sent two emails since then and I wanted to talk about my feelings regarding this decision.

Be ok with it

I am tensed. It feels strange to not know how many people actually read my newsletter (open the email), when I actually easily could know. In the end — if I continue this path — I just have to get used to this situation I guess. And I believe it's the right decision and more people should follow it. You actually have the same problem with websites and apps, you publish. If you do not include tracking, in the end you (just) have to trust the work you did before. Trust your users to be open and appreciative about what you do.

Be ok with it.

If you follow along you might have noticed my "share" widget. It's included through Sumome and it includes some kinds of tracking. I will evaluate what exactly is tracked there and if I need to disable it to have it comply with my (own) privacy policy.

Gathering sensitive data

While I never collected any sensitive data, there have been times throughout history — in different countries — where this has be done (systematically).

Data gathering around sensitive topics has a long history of being used in malicious and dangerous ways.

There have even been multiple occasions when mass surveillance and data collection have played key roles in facilitating humanitarian crises, including genocides.

To make really clear the link between surveillance and mass human rights’ abuses, and to highlight some of humanity’s worst examples of what can happen with mass surveillance, lack of freedom of expression, and abuse of data, here are a just a few examples. […]

source: https://www.theengineroom.org/dangerous-data-the-role-of-data-collection-in-genocides/

Be aware

This is and remains an important topic. And you as software developers need to be aware of your impact and your options regarding tracking and privacy.

How do you deal with this? Do you track people? Could you let go? Please let me know on Twitter or through email.