Our Commitment to Privacy

Fox Fact: a group of foxes is called a skulk. 

Look at these guys, just skulking around
Look at these guys, just skulking around

Happy Monday once more, Fox Fans. You may have noticed us make the announcement last week that we’ve removed anything from our website that involved tracking or data mining.  This includes things like analytic software and social media buttons.

Sure, this is going to make things a little harder for us in some regards, but we think it’s a fair exchange for us to be able to honestly say we’re looking out for your privacy.

             Data Miners hard at work

“Well duh, you’re a privacy company,” you might say. Exactly, friends.  You might be surprised at who uses data tracking, and to what extent. Then again, you might not be.

We asked company founder Eric Jung about his decision to remove all the tracking bits from getfoxyprofxy.org.  Here’s what he had to say.

Why has FoxyProxy removed all analytics and tracking tools from its websites?

We’re a privacy company, and it’s simply disingenuous to use such tools.

FoxyProxy has been around for many years. Why do this now?
We were inspired by Mozilla’s recent announcement about its new Tracking Protection feature in Firefox Private Browsing that “actively blocks content like ads, analytics trackers and social share buttons that may record your behavior without your knowledge across sites” along with the continued popularity of tools like Adblock Plus and Ghostery.

How will you know which ad campaigns are working?
We won’t.

How will you track visits to the FoxyProxy website over time?
To be clear, we’ve never tracked sites or URLs that our customers use with our products. Never have and never will. Now, to answer your question about the FoxyProxy websites: although we won’t be using client-side tools like Google Anayltics, DoubleClick, Piwik Analytics, etc for tracking, we will be using 90s-style server-side analytics software (such as AWStats) to give us a reduced level of insight. The key difference here is that Google Anayltics, Piwik Analytics, LiveChat, etc. (client-side) work by placing Javascript, cookies, web beacons, or other nasties on your computer. These things track you across websites to gather behaviors and trends, allowing profiles to be created about you. This is something server-side analytics simply cannot do because of technical reasons. Here’s an example of such a profile:

* Customer 9985235 is from Tehran, Iran.

* His first name is Firuz.

* He sometimes uses a proxy server so he probably wants to hide some/all of his internet activity.

* There is a 95% probability that the customer is male and between the ages of 16-25.
* He likes chocolate, dogs, listens to Christmas music,. He dislikes cats and politics.
* Since he listens to Christmas music, he is probably Christian living in a country with a Muslim majority.

* He has viewed many different Lego packages on various shopping sites over the last 3 years, so he probably enjoys Lego-building (contrast that with someone shopping for Lego during just one month–that person is probably shopping for presents for a birthday or holiday of a relative or friend)

Server-side analytics software like AWStats only analyzes a website’s local log files. The information is not nearly as rich, but it’s better than nothing and doesn’t compromise privacy; e.g. we cannot cross-reference a particular visit to a particular page on our website at a particular time with the name of that visitor.
But won’t this affect the company’s bottom line?
Absolutely. But we don’t have investors or shareholders to report to, so we don’t have to justify a drop in revenue, sales, or profits to anyone except ourselves.

I’d like to mention that even non-profit, privacy-leading organizations are tracking you. Here are some examples. All of these are recipients of financial donations from FoxyProxy:

* the EFF is using Piwik Analytics
* the FreePress is using Piwik Analytics

* The irony of this one is beyond laughable: Stop Watching Us is using Piwik Analytics, Segment Analytics, web beacons for Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and embedded YouTube videos (although they do attempt to alleviate that by using the youtube-nocookie.com domain, an insufficient attempt in our opinion). StopWatchingUs is watching you.

Usually here is where we put in a goofy conspiracy video to round out the post, but we’re skipping that this week.  As it turns out, you really are being constantly monitored.