Product

Privacy from a Product Manager perspective

How to deliver great mobile products and safeguard your customers data

The Problem

Have you ever had an ad show up in an app you’re using just seconds after searching for that item online? This experience creates uneasiness for users, but by using that app, the user is also agreeing to their terms of service in which data mining is allowed, and customer privacy is ignored. 

At Anonyome Labs, we take this issue very seriously. That’s why we’ve created the Sudo Platform as a privacy solution for global brands. From the very beginning of development, we put processes in place to ensure privacy is maintained. One of the key roles that helps maintain user privacy of Anonyome’s products is the Product Manager.

Product Management Summary

As a Product Manager or Product Owner, you are the protector and leader of the vision of the product. You determine what gets done and bring the team together to determine what features and fixes are the highest priority at that moment. Product managers are the CEOs of the product, so it is up to the PM to make the decisions that most impact the product and it’s users.

The Role of Privacy in Society

Our society has been forced to comply with digital products in exchange of our data because privacy was never part of what the service, app or platform was designed to do in the first place. In many cases, the features of these services were designed to gather and mine user data. We have all been affected by creepy ads being displayed after the interactions we have online. All of these technology mechanisms passed by a PM who approved and led his development team to execute the features, even though user data would be vulnerable. I would like to add further insight into how a PM can have an impact on how products are shaped for a society that needs privacy now more than ever.

A PM’s responsibility

As PM, the responsibility to maintain privacy can be achieved following thesesteps:

Feature Requirement Creation

As a requirement is created, details in story creation can be added to make sure the team knows how the product can preserve user data and privacy.

Architectural Design

An architect helps specify the technical details that the product needs to  achieve. A PM needs to make sure that the architect is aware of the privacy vision that the product needs to maintain. The architect  can drive initiatives, like security and threat models, so that the product can identify what privacy vulnerabilities are introduced, and how they can be mitigated. The architect leads these  initiatives with their expertise and technical knowledge.

Stake Holder Alignment

Ensure that stakeholders agree on the vision to maintain privacy as the product is being built.

Team Integration 

The team needs to understand how privacy plays an important role in libraries, SDKs and APIs that are integrated during the development phase. 

Agile Ceremony Follow up

During stand-ups, retrospectives, plannings and groomings, items in the backlog should reflect tasks and stories where privacy is being monitored on every feature by all team members, including developers and QA engineers.

PM sign-off: 

As another filter, PM sign-off can ensure the feature complete items align with the privacy vision the product needs to maintain. This is when the PM puts on the hat of the user and defends them against anti-privacy practices, data mining techniques or simple security vulnerabilities that expose who the user is and what the user does.

Conclusion

I hope this post makes it a little clearer how much of an impact product managers have on the tech products we all use, especially in terms of safeguarding the user from having their data exposed. Now, no one is perfect and things could be missed but the PM’s approach should be that of always protecting and advocating for the user. The above listed suggestions are not a check list to be marked off, but a process that should be integrated into the company’s culture. At Anonyome Labs, our mission is lived, encouraged and propagated to our end users and partners, so they too can make our mission part of their mission.

Anonyome Labs Mission Statement

Anonyome Labs was created to give people control and freedom over their personal and private information. We believe that people should be able to determine how, what, and with whom they share their personal details. We build the tools necessary to empower our brand partners’ users and end consumers with the necessary capabilities to protect and control their digital information. Anonyome Labs puts control back into users’ hands through mobile and desktop applications.”