About the Primer

In the wake of revelations about widespread government spying, massive data breaches, and increasing online censorship, it’s no surprise that privacy and free speech have moved to center stage for many users, policymakers, and investors.

Firsthand experience has taught many companies how decisions about privacy and free speech can impact their business. The failure to take privacy and free speech into account has led to public relations nightmares, costly lawsuits, government investigations, and the loss of users and business partners. Meanwhile, companies taking proactive steps to design user-protective products and business plans have not only avoided these harms but also benefited from positive press and increased customer trust.

Whether your company is a startup or an industry giant, you can protect your users and your bottom line by building privacy and free speech protections into your products and services. This guide gets you started. It walks you through the basic questions you need to address in order to integrate privacy and free speech into your design process. It also provides specific recommendations to help you get started, including dozens of real-life case studies that illustrate how integrating them will help your company thrive.

In the long run, what’s good for your users is good for your company. Your users are your greatest asset whether you are selling products, advertising, or data. Meeting, or, better yet, exceeding your users’ privacy and free speech expectations can build trust and deepen their relationship with your company and products. Falling short can drive users away, directly affect your company’s revenue, and threaten its long-term viability.

This guide, Privacy & Free Speech: It’s Good for Business, draws more than 100 case studies to develop specific recommendations that companies of all sizes can implement, including an expanded free speech section addressing issues related to online moderation and censorship. The tools in this guide can help you make the smart, proactive decisions necessary to avoid problems, protect users, and grow your business. In addition to case studies and reconmendations, this website features additional resources—including tools to help you produce transparency reports—and continuously-updated content reflecting recent trends and incidents.

Companies of all sizes face difficult decisions about users’ privacy and free speech. Using this guide and sharing it with your colleagues will help your company navigate this thorny terrain and come through with your user base and your reputation intact. Building privacy and free speech protections into your products and services isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s good for your business, too.

This publication is supported by the generosity of the ACLU’s members and donors and funding from the Digital Trust Foundation.

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