Sign in with Apple brings new dimension to privacy and data collection for nonprofits

Last week, Apple announced its upcoming Sign in with Apple feature, which will provide developers and users a single sign on (SSO) option to go alongside similar offerings from Google, Facebook, and others. All the details have yet to be released, but the basic outline of the feature is already known, and what is clear is that, in its offering, Apple is leveraging its oft-touted commitment to protecting user privacy.

One of Apple’s primary differentiations in its SSO implementation is to limit the amount of data an app receives when a user signs up. In offerings from other companies, developers can choose from a plethora of available personal information to collect on the user, while users are usually not even given the choice to determine which of their information an app should be allowed to collect.

By contrast, with Apple’s SSO, the only data an app could potentially receive is the user’s name and email address, and even then, the user can choose whether to share their email address. If they select to keep their email address private, Apple will generate an email address to provide to the app, while relaying all emails from the app to the user’s actual email address.

Apple’s privacy-focused move into the SSO space comes when digital citizens and regulators worldwide attempt to grapple with the effects of personal data mining on society as a whole, and the average individual in particular.

While it might seem that the debate about user privacy still rages, we are quickly arriving at a decisive conclusion, from two fronts. On one front we have heavy-handed privacy regulations enacted in the EU in the form of GDPR, followed by the CCPA passed in California, and stirrings of similar activity at the US federal level. On the user-sentiment front, users are demanding increased accountability over the collection, storing, and sharing — not even to mention mismanagement — of their personal data. As a result, the landscape is undergoing rapid change.

That’s great news for users, who will ultimately have greater control over their personal information, and hopefully fewer concerns over data breaches and identity theft. App developers, however, might not be rejoicing quite as much. Features such as Sign in with Apple restrict the amount of data they may collect on a given user, which can significantly reduce the user’s value to the company.

Consider a nonprofit organization that would like to know a user’s email, address, and maybe even some more personal information such as gender, so that they can effectively target the user for future engagement and support. With Apple’s SSO solution, this becomes that much more difficult, and even collecting the user’s email address is not a sure bet.

That said, it’s important to neither understate nor overstate the ramifications of this feature, particularly as it pertains to nonprofits. Regardless of whether the user chooses to share their email address, a nonprofit can still ask the user for personal information as they deem fit. Additionally, emails sent from the app will still reach the user through Apple’s routing system.

It’s when the user decides that they are not interested in further engagement with the nonprofit, disabling the connection on Apple’s end, that the nonprofit is no longer able to email the user. Of course, if the app collected the user’s address, postal mail is still an avenue of communication. But at this point, the nonprofit should be wondering whether they should be contacting the user who wants no further engagement.

At Rallybound, we are in the unique position of straddling the concerns of both the user and the nonprofit. On the one hand, we aggressively protect our end-users’ privacy, for example by not sharing fundraisers’ contact book data with the nonprofits they’re fundraising for. On the other hand, as we are a B2B application, the concerns of our clients — the nonprofit organizations, are paramount.

Looking to the future, Rallybound will continue to evolve with the latest advances in the technology sector, as we’ve always done. We will strive to implement best practices in user privacy protections while providing for the varied interests of our nonprofit organizations. From one perspective, this may be required to comply with new regulations. From another, Rallybound could provide a strong differentiator for nonprofits to attract the privacy-conscious next generation of Internet users and engage them in ways that cultivate a trusting connection.



Zalman Friedman


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