Coosto disappointed by nomination Big Brother Awards

On the 5th of November, we heard the news that Bits of Freedom nominated Coosto for the Dutch ‘Big Brother Award’, given to the privacy violator of the year. We are surprised and disappointed by this. Given the steps we have taken in the field of privacy in recent years, we do not recognize ourselves in the argumentation that led up to this nomination.

Coosto is active in a constantly changing world. Various stakeholders (customers, interest groups, social media partners, governments etc.), with often conflicting interests, play an important role in this. As Coosto, we pursue a policy based on ethical considerations, against a background of greatly increased attention to privacy.

Despite all the measures we have taken – and will continue to implement - as part of our policy, we have apparently failed to convey our position on this issue sufficiently. We find this regrettable.  We want to state clearly and transparently what Coosto stands for, and show that we do take privacy seriously.

For instance, the article of Bits of Freedom states that Coosto would allow social media surveillance. This information is outdated, and goes back to the time when social media data was a relatively unexplored territory. At the time, the market was mainly exploring the possibilities and limits of social media, and privacy was not given enough attention.

However, Coosto is constantly evolving, as is the world of social media. We have prohibited any form of surveillance through Coosto, which our contracts and general conditions state as well. Coosto is a tool for marketing and communication, and can only be used for goals such as customer satisfaction and brand awareness. We enforce this with the help of technical and legal measures.

Along with these measures, we have parted ways with several governmental customers that were unwilling to accept our changed vision and conditions, against our commercial interests. The article mentions how the police and NCTV would use Coosto. However, these organizations have not been a customer of Coosto for a long time now, partly because of above developments.

We do not make these decisions just because it is what can be expected from us, but because we value privacy. We constantly evaluate our services for their possible impact on social interests, including privacy. When necessary, we draw lines and change our product. Even when that means we leave commercial potential unused. This is part of who we are, what we stand for and what we are our proud of as a company.     

Bits of Freedom does very important work for our society, but it is a shame that in this case they do not have a clear overview of the current state of affairs. Nonetheless, this nomination has encouraged us in our commitment to communicate better about the balance between privacy and technical developments from our point of view.