First of all, apologies for the clickbait title.

But it’s become impossible to express that you really are concerned about the state of privacy on the web. Major websites have turned phrases like _ we care about your data_ and we value your privacy meaningless.

Go to, say, BuzzFeed. From the EU, you are presented with a Quancast Consent Management System sheet. Well, let’s see what this is about…

476 partners! The phrase we value your privacy should be appended with because we sell it for cash!. It’s madness.

It’s not that there’s a creepy person stalking our browsing history on the internet, it’s almost literally a big machine which is fed a lot of data so that it can serve you better targeted ads. BuzzFeed today has news on the death of Karl Lagerfeld, say you click on it, there is a signal that you are interested in fashion, and by piece by piece a profile of you is formed in this advertising panopticon.

My first experience with the panopticon was one time I wanted to reserve a specific hotel in Mexico. I introduced my dates to quote a price, and decided it was too expensive. This must have been a very strong signal for the panopticon, because from that day on, every website I visited had urgent advertising for this hotel “Last rooms available for Hotel Conchita, reserve now!”. It only ceased when my reservation dates passed.

As I programmed The Boolean Game, a question on the back of my mind was how I was going to monetize it. The easiest way would be to allow sponsors to include a marketing pixel, which gives them stats about the amount of people encountering their logo on a stage. The majority of companies simply want to know if the amount of money they are putting in advertising is money well spent, the problem is with the service provider who knows who did what and that’s when things start getting intrusive.

It would also justify charging a monthly fee to sponsors: if the play count was reliable and done by a third party, I could charge by event, and if the (popularity of my other games)[https://method.ac/writing/articles/gettingtractionwithwebgames.html] was any indication, I could be sitting on a significant amount of recurring revenue.

But allowing marketing pixels is connecting the game to the panopticon. And this is a dangerous thing in a game like this: if you know how a logo is built, it’s difficult to ignore when you encounter it. The value of the game is leaked into the advertising machine, which could figure out that a person who has played a stage sponsored by Acme is more likely to click on a banner with the logo of Acme.

This would leave a bad taste in my mouth. Dots connected, I couldn’t even dare to use Google Analytics to count the number of times a stage was played. I gave it much thought: either I paid for a premium tracking service which wouldn’t share the data, or I somehow devised a home-brewed solution.

In the end I opted the home-brewed solution. Visitor stats are already available in my nginx server logs, and I could parse them with [GoAccess]:https://goaccess.io/. I spent a day setting it up, and when I had it ready I thought: if this is something sponsors will see, then users can see it too.

So the (stats of the game)[https://boolean.method.ac/stats.html] are public.

Here rundown of how your data is used:

  1. My web server (nginx) registers you visit on a log file. IPs are anonymized.

  2. The data is parsed and only what is relevant to sponsors (unique visitors, mainly) is put in this public report.

  3. The data never goes through a third party tracking service.

  4. Cookies are not used, but your your game data is saved to localStorage. The game doesn’t have a backend, so none of this data is transferred to a server.

  5. The data saved in localStorage is simply your settings (muted, animation speed), the stages you’ve completed, and the last stage you’ve played.

My overall approach is: the less visitor data I keep, the less I have to worry about privacy. If I don’t transfer data to third-parties, I don’t have to be concerned about what they do with it.

So, in essence, the title is accurate: we don’t value your privacy, because we don’t hold or transfer private data.

Thank you for reading.