Inside data privacy at Mindfulness Everywhere

Find out more about how we handle data.

The stress of making meditation apps

We wanted to take a moment to talk about data privacy. Although we’ve talked about it before and we’ve got a fairly easy to read data privacy policy, we thought it would be helpful to tell you a bit more about how we approach data.

Starting with emails, if you’ve signed up to any of Mindfulness Everywhere’s products you are likely to have received email from us. So that’s quite obvious isn’t it? You sign up for the mailing list and you get emailed. We like to get in touch when we have something to say, rather than sending a mailout every week — so you probably haven’t had that many mailings from us. And if you’d like to hear more from us, we regularly post on Facebook and Instagram.

But what about the other stuff, the more hidden ways that we hear data about us is used. We’ve all become aware recently about the opaque ways that companies have used peoples’ data, ways in which the consumers and users are unlikely to have ever given proper permission for.

That’s why we wanted to take a moment to be transparent and tell you exactly how data in buddhify is used.

Perhaps the most important place to start is how we don’t use data. The first thing to say here is that we don’t use data to do extensive analysis and we certainly do not share your data with other companies.  

To be clear, we don’t do any of the following with your data:

  • We don’t sell data
  • We don’t offer it to advertisers
  • We don’t use data for speculative research (either by ourselves or by others)

So what does buddhify do with data? It’s worth firstly separating out data that we use to understand what the whole buddhify community is doing and data that we use to understand how you specifically use buddhify. It is also important to note that data about the whole community is aggregated from everyone’s individual’s data.

Here’s an overview of what we do:

  • We see how regularly the app is opened. This type of data is routinely collected by all app developers. We use this information in two ways. Firstly to understand within the whole buddhify community how many people use the app daily, weekly, and monthly. We also analyse data at an individual level to see how much an individual is using the app. We use this data alongside the specific actions in order to make suggestions about content.
  • We collect overall meditation minutes. We’ve done this since the beginning of buddhify in 2011. It was one of Rohan’s most satisfying messages when buddhify hit 5 million meditation minutes in 2014 (it’s now nearer to 100 million minutes so well done everyone!).
  • We look at what meditations are popular and not so popular. Sleep tracks have always been the most popular tracks in buddhify, so we added more sleep tracks and categories in the new version and there is a sleep wheel. However saying this, although we like to understand and be responsive to what buddhify users like, we do also have a strong opinion on what we want to provide. So new topics and meditation tracks come from a variety of sources — a hike up a Scottish mountain, an email from a buddhify customer, or a team discussion just as well.
  • We recommend things you might like based on your current usage of the app. We use software to track specific actions that you do within the app, such as changing wheels or listening to tracks in particular sections. We then make recommendations and suggestions to you based on which actions you’ve done. For example, if someone listens to several sleep related tracks in a row, we will make a suggestion to that individual about trying some of the waking meditations. Because of the way buddhify works — a single upfront fee for the app — we don’t have to focus these recommendations around trying to sell you anything but rather on what we think might appeal or be of use to you as you explore the app further.
  • We do use 3rd party software to help with collecting and analysing data. In data protection language, they are described as data processors and we are the data controllers. The 3rd party softwares we use all have strong data protection policies and processes in place, and meet European Union regulation on data protection.

Beyond the detail of how we use data, there’s a broader point we want to touch on here as well. When we made buddhify, we purposively made a decision to be led by our values and the type of product we wanted to make for the world. We make decisions about how we design buddhify and our other products based on these values. In 2016, we spent time digging further into this. If you’re interested, you can see the Designing Mindfulness Process Journal here.

When we designed buddhify and our other products, we designed it with the intention that you eventually won’t need a meditation app. So how we engage with you through data privacy, through interactions with the buddhify app, and other channels such as email, is all with the view in mind and not with trying to make you addicted to our products.