A Jumbo solution to online privacy
We’re still a long way from everyone caring deeply about their online privacy and the data big tech companies store about them. I mean, it’s widely (and almost certainly incorrectly) believed that Facebook eavesdrops on us through our phones, and yet few people are freaked out enough by this to stop using Facebook’s apps.
Part of the problem is that even if you do care about your online privacy, deleting data and locking down your permissions isn’t easy. It’s much simpler to just not bother. But a new app could go some way to changing this.
comes from the mind of Pierre Valade, one of the people behind the much-praised Sunrise calendar app, which was acquired by Microsoft to enhance the Outlook mobile app. Complete with a cute elephant mascot, the app makes it easy to do things like delete and archive your tweets, wipe the voice recordings in your Amazon Alexa account, and clear your Google search history.
Over time, Jumbo aims to be a one-stop hub for maintaining your online privacy. It’s completely free to use now, but Valade tells me advanced features for both individuals and businesses will be added over time for a subscription fee. Additional integrations with the likes of Tinder and Instagram are planned, too.
TechCrunch’s Josh Constine points out
that Facebook could easily block Jumbo due to its ability to have the app manage your privacy settings, but the investors in its $3.5m seed round clearly see long-term potential in being the friendly, accessible face of online privacy.
There could be another stumbling block for some – I tried the beta of Jumbo last week and struggled to build up the willpower to delete my Twitter and Google data - I’ve kind of grown attached to it.
In the end, I deleted my Alexa voice recordings just to give it a go. It’s impressive that Jumbo does everything directly on your device; Valade says your data never touches a Jumbo server. A lack of server-side software also means Jumbo’s costs don’t increase in line with the size of its userbase , which makes increasing popularity less of a headache. That’s a canny move other young startups should keep in mind.
One challenge might be that people use Jumbo once and never come back to it – you’d have to really care about privacy to use it regularly. But if anyone can popularise a healthy attitude to online privacy, why shouldn’t it be a cartoon elephant in blue dungarees?