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The Fast Company Op-Ed by Richard Stokes on the State of Online Privacy

Rich has seen the nefarious changes in online advertising firsthand, in ways an average consumer or even an average participant in the advertising economy has not. Rich was the head of innovation for a global marketing, advertising, and sales consultancy that specializes in data. Rich also led an online advertising platform that he founded, specializing in competitive intelligence.

What Rich has seen is troubling. How troubling? Troubling enough that he left the advertising industry and started working on technology to strip away tracking and anonymize browsing. Rich saw up close that behind-the-scenes tracking of the average person's online habits had gone to unacceptable extremes. As an engineer and programmer, as well as an insider in the ad industry, he could do something about it. The technology he worked on upon leaving advertising became Winston.

In this Fast Company piece, Rich puts forth three key tenets that can lead to a better status quo regarding online privacy and address adequately what has come to be known in 2019 as "the surveillance economy."

First — Meaningful consent matters. You shouldn't be bullied into having your data harvested, nor should your data be gathered without you knowing about it. Your data should only be taken with your explicit consent.

Second — Companies can't make their products or services inoperable if you choose to opt out of data sharing. You shouldn't be refused service because of your data privacy choices.

Third — Visibility should exist regarding what companies do with your data. Specifically, Rich argues for consumers being in the know about device end points. A consumer should know what data is collected on them, where that data is going, and how it gets to that endpoint.

All three points require a combination of technological and political advancement to bring about true change. Of course, on the technological front, the work Rich himself has put in engineering Winston is transformative and bodes well for internet users who wishes to protect themselves and their family's privacy.

Read the full op-ed on the Fast Company site:

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