We had an interesting comment from a reader today. He was keeping his distance from Wave because he believed we were selling his data to advertisers. It's not an unfounded fear, in the sense that there are companies that might do that. Wave, I'm proud to say, is not one of them. I can unambiguously, categorically, flag-wavingly stand up and say that. Wave will never sell you out.

And in order to be perfectly transparent, let me give a bit more detail around my answer, and tell you what Wave will and will not do.

What Wave will never do

Wave will never sell or give individual info about you to anyone. Period.

Let's call our customer Jim. We won't ever sell Jim's name or email. And we sure won't ever tell anyone that Jim has X in his bank account, or spends Y on his bills.

What Wave will do

Now, Wave does pay for the free small business accounting program somehow, right? Here's how this works. As you'll see, at no point does it involve giving Jim's data to anyone.

  1. An advertiser comes to us with a savings opportunity for small businesses.
  2. The advertiser provides us with a description of the kind of business they want to offer the savings opportunity to. For instance, companies in Pennsylvania that spend more than $150 a month on their mobile phones. Let's assume that Jim fits the description.
  3. Wave presents the savings opportunity on screen to Jim. (The opportunity is also available to any Wave customer in the geographical area who visits the Savings section.)
  4. If Jim likes the savings opportunity and clicks on the link, he exits Wave and begins interacting with the advertiser. Jim can choose to sign up for the offer or not, and in that process can choose to divulge information to the advertiser or not, just as he would always do when he buys something or deals with a vendor.

As you see, the advertiser learns nothing about Jim from Wave. Wave presents savings opportunities, but Wave passes nothing about Jim back to the advertiser.

Something else Wave might do

Let me continue with my disclosure about your data:

Apart from the example above, there’s the possibility of Wave compiling aggregate data about small businesses. For instance, we might pull together stats that say things like, “In the northeastern states, small businesses spend an average of $X on their mobile phone bills (based on data from 5,000 customers).” We might then share this information with all our customers to help them make smart business decisions, or we might use the data in other ways. But the important thing here is that Jim is never identifiable.

Let's assume Jim was one of the 5,000 businesses whose anonymous data fed into our average.

  • We never divulge that Jim was included in the mix.
  • We never divulge what Jim or any other individual business spent.
  • We don't even divulge that Jim is a Wave customer, or that he owns a mobile phone.

The use of data in aggregate like this is done in such a way that Jim's details could never be deduced or inferred.

Personal and private data are very sensitive things, and our customers have every right to be cautious regarding how their data are used.

So Wave takes privacy and security very seriously, and you have my assurance that we would never give or sell your individual or personally identifiable data to anyone. Period.

-Rob