How The Times Thinks About Privacy

Sulzberger is the publisher of The New York Times

www.nytimes.com/2019/04/10/opinion/sulzberger-new-york-times-privacy.htmlE21D601F-C1C9-4C56-BC02-5C44C00508B5

Over the past few years, The New York Times has reported aggressively on the erosion of digital privacy, bringing information to light about the exploitation of personal data that Facebook amassed on its users, about companies buying and selling children’s data, and about phone apps secretly tracking users’ every movement. That reporting helped spur global debate about how society should protect privacy in digital spaces.

Yet all of this journalism was paid for, in part, by The Times’s engaging in the type of collecting, using and sharing of reader data that we sometimes report on. As with a politician railing against high drug prices while accepting campaign donations from big pharma, a news organization cannot talk about privacy on the internet without skeptical readers immediately, and rightly, examining its own practices for signs of hypocrisy. So, as we kick off The Privacy Project, I wanted to share a bit about how The Times itself approaches reader data and privacy.

Like virtually every business on the internet, we collect, use and sharedata about readers. We make money by using that data to sell advertisements and subscriptions, often working with other companies like Google and Facebook, which allows us to sustain a 1,600-person news operation that reports from more than 150 countries every year. This data also helps us improve The Times’s website and apps by providing readers interactive stories, developing new products and features, and recommending relevant articles. (Our privacy policy offers more detail about our data practices.)

It would be easy to argue that this approach to data has long been regarded as standard for any major website, or to note that we are more careful about protecting reader data than many others. Both are true. But we aspire to more than simply being better than average in a digital ecosystem that is in obvious need of reform.

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