It might sound odd, but we pride ourselves on knowing very few things about our customers. In fact, the less we know about you the happier we are. As we grow and learn more about the information we need to optimize our service, we find new ways to do things like anonymize site statistics in a privacy compliant way.
You see, we want to make sure that even before you decide you need a Bear in your life, we’re helping you maintain your privacy. Here are a few of the things we do on our website to limit the collection of your IP address.
Google Analytics and IP addresses
Google Analytics is a measurement tool for our website. It tells us things like how people arrived on our pages, how long they stayed and what pages people visited. While this information is helpful from a high level to show us what content is working, we don’t need to know which individuals visited tunnelbear.com.
We have no way of identifying a specific person, because that information never reaches our servers.
Google Analytics has a feature that allows us to change an important part of a visitor’s IPv4 or IPv6 address to zeros. It does this by briefly placing visitor IP addresses into memory then replaces several digits before writing them to storage. The end result would change an IP like 22.214.171.1244 to look like 104.215.18.000.
Replacing the last part of IP addresses with 0s might not look like it makes much of a difference, but that last section is the number that identifies your device on the network it’s connected to. Even if we wanted to trace your IP, which we don’t, all we could see is that someone from your ISP’s network visited our website. We have no way of identifying a specific person, because that information never reaches our servers.
Optimizing our website with A/B testing
Another tool we’ve been using to create smarter Bears is Optimizely. Basically, it helps us learn how people interact with our website. We’ve run tests in the past that have helped us determine whether people respond better to a button that says “Get started, It’s Free” vs. “Download a Bear” on our homepage. Like Google Analytics, Optimizely allows us to remove the personally identifying part of an IP address. Optimizely teaches us more about which webpages perform best and why, without being able to identify the people that have visited each page.
This is a win/win for privacy since we’re not collecting any personal information from you and we learn interesting things about how people interact with our websites.
Trust and education
Our goal in being transparent is to increase trust and educate customers so they have more control over their privacy. We believe that just because you visit our website, doesn’t mean we should know who you are or start following you around the internet with ads. Instead, we let our track record of supporting privacy, our happy customer reviews and our third party security audit do the talking for us.
If you’d like to know more about how we use the marketing data we keep or have general questions about TunnelBear, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org