1. We do NOT, ever look at personal profiles in Facebook, unless you leave them open with your privacy settings. It is important to check and verify your privacy settings in social network services like Facebook, Bebo, MySpace or LinkedIn for example. We are not responsible for how you manage your privacy settings online and by reading this, you accept and understand this. We recommend looking into the privacy settings of the services you may use.
2. We only ever access information that is PUBLIC. We do NOT ever, provide or access information that is password protected for personal profiles or considered by a third party as private. Ever. If you write a blog post on a publicly available blog…remember, anyone, anywhere in the world at any time, can read it. Unless you lock it down it is NOT private. Ever. If a search engine like Google can see it, so can we.
3. Twitter, Plurk, Identi.ca…they are NOT private communications channels and it is important to check the User Terms & Conditions when registering for these services. Anyone in the world who checks out a service like http://search.twitter.com can see your “tweets”, or who signs into Plurk or has the API to Twitter or Plurk, Identi.ca and others can see what you post.
4. Newsgroups and Forums or Bulletin Boards – are open to the public unless the privacy rules for each individual service say otherwise. If they do not allow us to plug in and search them, then we don’t. Be sure to check the Terms & Conditions you agreed to when signing up or registering for these services.
So What Do We Do With All This PUBLICLY Available Data?
1. Provide Insights: We analyze the data we find and turn it into information that has meaning to our clients. This can be for marketing, public relations, investor relations, government relations and more. These insights benefit both our clients and you through improved understanding and communication.
2. Data on You: We provide our clients with AGGREGATE data. That means “big picture” like how many of X age group talked about “this” issue or “400 people love your service” type of thing. Individual data is not important to our clients. The only exception is when we identify “Influencers” and “authority” people – bloggers or others online who are popular with a particular audience. The interest for our client is to potentially engage with these people to form a positive working relationship.
3. Resale: Never. We do NOT, ever, resell individual reports to anyone, third, fourth or fifth party. We do however, gather “meta data”, that is big picture stuff that shows major trends or issues and we sometimes compile that into reports, such as how people use Social Media tools in Western Canada or youth and social media or even seniors and how they use social media. We may sell that, but seriously, we do not ever include information on individuals.
4. Countries of Operations: We gather information from all over the world online. We do NOT sell or provide information on individuals to governments. With that being said we ONLY work with democratic governments in the NATO alliance. Our corporate policy states that we do not work with non-democratic governments or organizations affiliated with non-democratic or illegal organizations.
5. Personal Information: We can’t emphasize enough how seriously we take individual rights to privacy. We provide “group” and “demographic” or “psychographic” information to clients – which is actually more valuable for them.
6. It’s All In Canada: All the data we store (actually we dump it within 48 hours cause the cost of storage for the volume of data we process is very expensive!) Any data we do keep is kept in Canada at all times. We maintain complete compliance with Canadian federal privacy laws such as PIPEDA and our lawyers make us take them very seriously.