Internet Usage Data Privacy

SHAILA on January 10, 2013

A concerned parent recently brought up an issue around Mobicip's privacy policy to our attention. Publishing this email thread in its entirely on our blog is one of the steps we are taking to address his concern. You can see our response and his original email below.


Hello John

My name is Suren and I'm a co-founder and CEO of Mobicip. I'm following up with you on your email to Mobicip support regarding our privacy policy. First, my apologies for the delay in getting back to you. This is a matter of great importance to us and I took some time to provide a legally correct response.

Does Mobicip use this data for any advertising or internet modeling usage data that gets sold to third parties?  I think it would be a GOLDMINE for Mobicip to resell it’s usage data to marketing companies who want internet polling data on what kids are researching and interested in on the web?

We absolutely do not use minors' internet usage data for any advertising or marketing purposes whatsoever, and we do not share data with any third party for any purpose whatsoever. 

Mobicip’s website has a privacy statement, but it only address their e-commerce relationship with their customers.  This statement completely ignores the privacy rights of the minors that will be using the Mobicip browser.  Their is no statement on what Mobicip does or does not do with all the browsing traffic data, search results, and internet history that is sent to Mobicip from the Mobicip browser?

You are absolutely correct about this. We take the privacy rights of minors using the Mobicip browser very seriously. The Safe Browser app itself does not collect any personally identifiable data without the Premium service. Browsing history data can only be accessed by parents and administrators who upgrade to the Premium service. The ability to track internet usage history is a feature of the Premium service and those who upgrade are showing explicit consent to allow us to do so. This data is private and we never ever share this information with any third-party or use it for marketing or other purpose whatsoever. In fact, I had addressed this question in a blog post as early as 2009, way before the awareness about minors' privacy came into public discussion.

That we do not address this privacy concern directly on our website's privacy policy, FAQ or knowledge base is definitely a shortcoming. In as much as this can be an excuse, we consider it a given that internet usage data is private and cannot be shared. I am taking steps to correct this immediately. Please bear with me and I will send you an update on the actions taken.

I hope this addresses your questions and concerns for now. We really appreciate the time and effort you put into this and we truly appreciate your advocacy for the privacy of minors. 

Thanks

Suren


From: <email address withheld>

Subject: Request Information

Date: January 5, 2013 8:09:02 AM PST

John has sent the following message.

Mobicip seams like the right alternative for protecting minors from from having unmanaged internet web browsing access.  I have a tight router protection policy here at home, but it does not protect them when they take their iPad to a friends house and I have no granular control over YouTube content. Mobicip and the premium service account seams like the right idea.

However there are some real privacy issues that the Mobicip website does not identify for parents.  It indicates that all Mobicip browser communications are sent to Mobicip via encrypted communications?  I can only assume that the Mobicip service acts a a proxy/gateway for all web browsing from the Mobicip browser?  Technically I think this is the right (possibly only) approach, but this hands over A LOT privacy issues about a minor’s usage of the Mobicip application.

Mobicip’s website has a privacy statement, but it only address their e-commerce relationship with their customers.  This statement completely ignores the privacy rights of the minors that will be using the Mobicip browser.  Their is no statement on what Mobicip does or does not do with all the browsing traffic data, search results, and internet history that is sent to Mobicip from the Mobicip browser?

Does Mobicip use this data for any advertising or internet modeling usage data that gets sold to third parties?  I think it would be a GOLDMINE for Mobicip to resell it’s usage data to marketing companies who want internet polling data on what kids are researching and interested in on the web?

This is a major privacy omission that Mobicip does not address tin their FAQs, Privacy Statement, or user forums!  It’s even a little suspicious that Mobicip and all the internet safety review websites recommending Mobicip do not even address this issue?  I’ve seen many YouTube video’s from concerned parents indicating how great this is, but they do not even realize or address that they could be handing over all internet search, history, and tracking to this Mobicip company that we know so little about.  And worse this internet history is almost guaranteed to have a red flag that it is coming from minors!

I will be testing Mobicip.  Again it seams like the right solution.  But the lack of a privacy statement addressing their usage of the web traffic data is a red flag and a real concern that should be address before I can commit to using this for my kids.