I’m Hiten Shah, the CEO of KISSmetrics. First of all, I’d like to thank you for being part of the KISSmetrics community and allowing us to help you make better decisions for your online business. That’s a responsibility that I take very seriously.
Recently there have been articles in the press about KISSmetrics’ use of customer data, followed by two lawsuits. These articles are based entirely on a paper by Ashkan Soltani, who published his paper on the same day that the first lawsuit was filed.
As a company founded on integrity, we were blindsided by these allegations. We take these claims very seriously, and we think it is important for you to have the facts about our company.
Mr. Soltani’s paper significantly distorts our technology and business practices. To set the record straight:
- KISSmetrics has never shared any information about a user with any third party.
- KISSmetrics does not track users across different websites, nor do we have the ability to do so.
Mr. Soltani’s paper speculates that KISSmetrics tracks customers across websites based on his observation of a shared identifier on different customer websites. This has never occurred. His misinformation appears to result from the fact that we use the same url for all customers to reduce server and bandwidth resources and increase end-user performance, which is critical given our small size. An incidental consequence of this is that the same anonymous identifier was returned externally across multiple websites. However, internally, these identifiers are instantly translated into unique identifiers for each customer, and KISSmetrics has gone to extensive lengths to avoid linking any information from different customers, including segregating each customer’s data in a completely separate database.
Mr. Soltani also claims that it is somehow improper to use any technology other than browser cookies to track website activity. In fact, countless online companies, including other major analytics providers, use a variety of different technologies to provide these services, including the persistent technologies Mr. Soltani targets in his paper.
We take Mr. Soltani’s claims very personally because we designed our company to go above and beyond what other companies are doing to protect user privacy and to avoid any sharing of user information with other websites. One of the key benefits of our service is that we are able to provide critical insights to our customers without aggregating data between customers or sharing their data with third parties, unlike other services.
Although our practices have always been lawful and ahead of industry best practices, we are a small start up, and we want to eliminate any concern or confusion about our business practices. To address any misinformation about our company, we have made the following changes:
- KISSmetrics only uses first-party cookies for tracking.
- KISSmetrics does not use ETags or any other persistent cookie or object for tracking purposes.
- KISSmetrics has added support for the Do Not Track header. We have chosen to implement our Do Not Track in the most stringent possible fashion: preventing KISSmetrics from tracking any information about the user, even within a single session at your site.
- KISSmetrics has added a consumer-level opt-out for those who wish to be entirely removed from all KISSmetrics tracking, going well beyond the options that other analytics companies provide.
Finally, a few thoughts about the lawsuits: we are not the first online company to be targeted by a meritless lawsuit, and we will not be the last. The same lawyers who filed these cases have filed dozens of cases around the country against hundreds of publishers, application providers, ad networks and analytics providers. Many of these companies have elected to settle, but when challenged, courts have repeatedly held that these claims have no merit. We believe in the value our company provides to our customers and are going to fight this lawsuit head on. We have every confidence that this case will be dismissed, and that we will be able to move on and continue providing great products to our customers.
We greatly appreciate the support we’ve received from the community across various forums. It’s helped sustain us during this frustrating ordeal, and it has allowed us to remain focused on providing an outstanding product to the online business community. If you have any questions or concerns about any of this, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hiten Shah, CEO – and the whole KISSmetrics team – Neil, John, Cindy, Steve, Ian, Ben, Michael, Derek, Stephen, Sean, Mika, Chuck, Eric, and Jason
UPDATED: A previous version of this blog post indicated that Mr. Soltani “works closely with the lawyers who filed these cases.” We are advised by plaintiffs’ counsel that that is not correct and that they do not work with Mr. Soltani. Because we want to get the facts 100% correct (unlike those who have sued us), we have removed that language from the blog post. We continue to note, for the record, that the first suit against us was filed the same day that Mr. Soltani’s paper was published, and we further note that a series of previous lawsuits involving “Flash cookies” filed by the same plaintiffs’ lawyers in 2010 relied on another paper authored by Mr. Soltani.