A Look Under the Hood With Idka’s Development Team
At Idka, privacy is at the heart of what we do. But, what does that mean exactly? We asked our development team to explain how Idka was built with privacy from the get-go, and why it is vital for our success.
How is privacy built into Idka?
Privacy is in the DNA of Idka. It was designed from the ground up to protect your right to stay private and in control of your data. There are some basic concepts at the heart of the design:
1. You establish a CONTRACT with whomever you want to communicate, share and collaborate. (You have friends and contacts that are established via acceptance, or implied acceptance in the case of businesses and organizations.) That means that no one can buy access to or insert something into your feed.
2. The default setting is that publishing or SHARING IS OFF (and it cannot be changed)! Every time you want to share, you need to actively choose with whom you share.
3. Your communication stays in CONTEXT, a very important concept. This means that if you have shared a post privately with one or more friends/contacts, no one can be added to that list – which means that if someone posts a comment, s/he knows the audience. Or, if you invite someone to join an ongoing conversation, a new entrant cannot see what happened before in that conversation.
4. You can DELETE and remove posts and chats, files and videos, and they are completely removed (as in incinerated). Receivers of your posts cannot download the content (such as pictures) and when a post is deleted, all its associated content is really deleted.
5. You OWN your own content fully and unabridged. There is no claim to use, analyze or access your data.
6. No income is generated on you or your content – in any way. SUBSCRIPTION-generated income is a prerequisite for a trustworthy social media platform. We believe that any form of income from derived data (anonymized metadata included) will lead to privacy transgressions.
7. Safety in ENCRYPTION when data is transferred and at rest, including the possibility of end-to-end private encryption of any conversation. And then there are many other concepts that protect you in real life, such as the fact that no-one can search and find you or your content. If you delete your account, it really disappears. No additional information from third party sources are compiled, 2-factor authentication, etc.
Why is it important for Idka to keep users’ data safe?
Because the most fundamental right of all is that of the right to privacy. If there is no privacy there is no democracy. We have secret ballots – right? That is for a reason. It is actually so self-evident that even despotic dictators have secret ballots in elections. The ability to think freely, to test borders, thoughts and theories without fear of being stigmatized, attacked, bullied or scorned, or worse, being arrested on the grounds of thinking different, belonging to a church or fringe political party. All the nations of the world have agreed that freedom of speech, freedom from persecution and the right to free assembly and expression is fundamental to welfare of human mankind and self-evident rights of man. To exercise all of this you need to be able to act and live in private, and share only when, where and with whom you choose.
How was Idka built? What’s the technology behind it?
Idka first existed as a powerpoint presentation with the basic concepts set out above detailed. It was worked out between Göran Wågström and Bjørn Stormorken after hours of discussions. Later, other people were brought in. The presentation was not a technical document, it was a practical guide to how you could stay private but still be social and enjoy interacting with others using the Internet. This attracted the interest of a number of educated and concerned private wealthy and tech savvy investors, and thus the first funding was made available to start working on the actual technical platform, embodying the concepts from the original design and then expanded and refined by our fantastic tech team.
Why did you choose the various functionalities on Idka?
When Idka started, there were already a number of platforms with different one-task focuses, such as storage (Dropbox) and chatting (Signal/Telegram) or collaboration (Slack). All of them were at the time single-purpose. We wanted to, and have indeed built, a platform that incorporates, in a very effective and seamless manner, all the tools you need for sharing and collaboration. On Idka you automatically have drag-and-drop shared storage between contacts, a group gets cloud storage automatically attached, as it does its own wall for posting and separate group chat as well. Fast, effective, intuitive and easy to work with. We will continue this and expand with other features going forward. One important thing though, is that not only do the various functions need to be seamlessly integrated and easy to use, but Idka in itself needs to be the same. That means that we will never be heavy on integration with back-office, case-handling and various storage systems. It will always be possible just to access Idka on the web (or download a simple app), and run with it. No need for IT competence and support – that is also an important part of our vision for Idka.
Idka’s chat system is encrypted, what does that mean?
Encryption simply means that it is not possible (or nearly impossible) for someone to read the content unless you have access to the encryption key. An encryption key can best be described as a string that is used to scramble the message with and then unscramble when it is accessed. If the key is provided by the user (as opposed to the service provider) it is called private end-to-end encryption. This means that only the user can access the information. And, by the way, it means that if the user forgets or loses the key, the messages can never be read.
What does it mean that Idka is “ad-free, without algorithms and bots”?
Ad-free simply means that we neither store any information about our users, their user patterns nor do we collect, collate analyze and build metadata (so called derived data) so we do not, as a company, have anything interesting to sell to anyone; nor do we sell or give anyone access to the users of the Idka platform. Other platforms generally collect both the information you leave on the service yourself (such are your sex, age, address, interests, etc.), information they learn from your use of the pattern, details of what you do on the Internet outside of their platform (yes, they also track you when you do not use their platform) and information they buy from so called ‘data scrapers’ (companies that collect information about what you buy and where and when you by it, your phone number and a host of other things), including, but not limited to, credit card companies, government registers, or by putting code on websites that enable tracking of everything you do. With the exception of the information you leave directly on the platform yourself (which they call ‘your data’, and they go on about how much they do to protect it), they consider this information their information. This is valuable, and other services sell this information to cover their costs and make a profit. But, the real value here is information they produce using very and increasingly sophisticated algorithms to score you on thousands of dimensions. This is called ‘derived data’ and is really valuable. One such dimension could be your degree of neuroticism, your political leaning, how likely it is that you are pregnant and what race you belong to (yes, 100% statistically correct scoring even if you have never stated anywhere that you are or aren’t pregnant, or the color of your skin or ethnic background), how much you are wanting a new car, etc. Algorithms are used for these scoring models, producing highly valuable, easily sellable information. A political party wanting to reach a neurotic voter with a message on gun control? Payment willingness is high, if you can reach these and only these target people with ads. Bots can thrive on social media because those platforms give or sell access to its users to others, for example people that construct bots. Bots cannot be used with Idka because Idka does not allow third parties access to the platform, and any messaging and sharing is between two consenting parties.
What does it mean that Idka will never sell or commercialize my data?
It means that Idka has a business model that does not include selling user data, access to users and ad-space. Idka’s sole source of income is generated by subscriptions. Due to the business model, Idka has no incentive to commercialize your data, and Idka could not, even if it wanted to, because no data is collected at all.
Does my information remain on Idka for life? What if I want to edit or erase something?
Deleted information is really deleted. It may remain for a backup cycle, but then it is gone – forever. In opposition to many social media, it is not just marked as hidden or retired. If a user deletes an account, everything linked to the account is fully and irrecoverably deleted. There are some finer points related to use of Idka in businesses and organisations, where certain types of information in certain settings are considered the property of the organization and therefore is subject to supervision before being finally deleted.
If I share pictures and files on Idka, are they still private?
Yes, they are private between those that you share them with. If you share a picture in a post, it may not be downloaded by the recipient and the picture is deleted if you delete the post. If you share a file via the storage system, the recipient may of course download to the file to her/his computer until you delete it from the shared storage.
How is it possible that my profile on Idka isn’t searchable outside of the website?
Idka is denying the crawler technology used by search engines to build their search indices. This means that Idka will never turn up if you search for a person’s name, like it will on LinkedIn and Facebook, etc.
What is to come for Idka? Any new features?
The platform is already highly functional with a lot of features. We have a number of additions to the functionality under consideration, chiefly to expand the functionality of Groups. One such feature could be an event calendar for a Group. However, we are not disclosing our future road map, as changes are made frequently as the mix of user input/need and available resources change.