Published 2014-10-22

Openness and respect for privacy

The internet is undergoing transformation from a web that is anonymous to one that is logged in. The good news is that this means we can deliver better and more targeted services to our users. The flip side is the risk of data being misused. This is an issue that ought to interest all internet users, and one which we welcome the opportunity to discuss.

Article in Dagens Næringsliv by Rolv Erik Ryssdal, CEO, Schibsted Media Group

As a highly professional and leading media group, Schibsted’s fundamental attitude can be summed up as follows:

Better services: We will use data collection and advanced data analytics to create better content and services for our readers and users.

Openness and information: We have a role as a driving force in the digital transformation. We also take responsibility for sharing our knowledge of and insight into this transformation, as manifested in our recently published Future Report. 

Transparency: We constantly aspire to improve the way in which we make our information accessible. We will inform our users about what we do and why. Any data we sell to third parties cover large target groups only; we do not sell data on individuals.

Individual freedom of choice: Our users have the option to opt out of solutions they do not wish to have. It should be easy for users to find out about and understand what options are available to them. Schibsted has appointed a dedicated Data Protection Officer to facilitate this.

Identity and logging in

The internet is moving in a direction where increasing importance is being placed on individuality, on how to create the best solutions for individual users, with personalized and more relevant content. Your identity, your activity, your interests and your networks are forming the basis for what products are offered. Facebook has long since taken the lead, and others, such as Google+ and Netflix, are following close behind.

In parallel with this, more users are using digital devices: they often begin searches on using a stationary computer and continue the same searches using their mobile devices. For many companies, the answer to managing this transition between devices and at the same time obtaining information on user patterns is obvious: login services that provide both user identity and consent.

Better and more relevant

The data that are collected in this way and analyzed in vast volumes enable us to offer new and even smarter services to individual users. In practice, this user orientation enables Schibsted to, for example:

  • Show relevant classified ads based on your previous searches on the front page of FINN’s mobile services. FINN knows that users often perform the same searches time after time when, for example, looking for a new home, and the so-called ‘FINN stream’ provides you with easy access to ads that are relevant for you.
  • Try to retrieve even more relevant and engaging content from our media houses.
  • Allow users to influence their news stream in Omni based on personal preferences so that they are presented with more relevant news stories.

Who finances journalistic content?

The big winners in this market so far have been American giants such as Facebook, Google and Netflix. They have created good solutions for their users, and are consequently capturing a growing proportion of advertising revenues. However, unlike the national media houses, they do not use these vast advertising revenues to finance investigative journalism. If Norwegian media houses are to win advertising revenues in future and thereby secure their journalistic activities and their social responsibility, we must be prepared to do battle with the American giants. If not, the financial basis for Norwegian quality journalism will disintegrate. The consequences this would have on society would, in our view, be highly detrimental.

However, this should not happen at the expense of privacy protection and data security. On the contrary: Schibsted wants to be better at transparency and openness than Facebook, Google and the others, so Dagens Næringsliv and anyone else who may be interested will be informed of the type of information we collect. Our users must have confidence in everything we do. Compromising our users’ trust is not an option for us.

Securing data protection

We therefore provide detailed information in our privacy policy statement about how we collect and use data. Only last year, was commended by the Norwegian Data Protection Authority for the wording in its privacy policy statement. Furthermore, our users are given the freedom of choice to deactivate the tools we use to collect information. We are fully subject to Norwegian and European data protection legislation, which is far more stringent than the legislation with which Facebook and Google must comply. We work closely with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority to ensure that all of Schibsted’s users have sound privacy protection.

We will continue improving our services using data and advanced analytics, and we will do this in an open and transparent manner, in cooperation with our users and the authorities. And we hope that our competitors do likewise.