About Us


Mission

The mission of Openly Operated is trust through transparency: to make online services as transparent as possible, in order to increase trust in the apps we all use. People shouldn't have to be in the dark about what's happening with their personal data, and companies should provide verifiable proof of the claims they make about protecting user security and privacy.

Values

  • Simplicity - Keep things as simple as possible. The more complicated something is, the harder it is to understand, and the easier it is to obscure or hide problems and potential gaps. Document and explain things that cannot be simplified further.
  • Prudence - Go slow, and carefully think through decisions for the long term. The old and failing method of "move fast and break things" naturally puts security and user privacy in the backseat. When building and auditing products, ask: How can this design or feature be abused by the operators? How can you prove it won't be abused?
  • Transparency - Everything that is not private user data should be made public, with proof. This includes and is not limited to internal processes, source code, reports, updates, and explanations and reasons for how things work. Products should be so transparent that the user could rebuild the entire product by themselves if given enough time.

Origin

In 2017, we discovered that app stores were rife with abusive and scammy apps, and wrote an investigative piece on Medium which went viral, reaching over 500,000 people. From there, we realized that even though all of these abusive apps had privacy policies (that they copy-pasted), the policies were basically useless, because there was no way for anyone to verify what they were actually doing with user data. Even if App Store reviewers wanted to confirm whether or not the apps were abiding by their Privacy Policy, they couldn't. There was no standard, and no procedure for verifying that an app was being honest.

We found that everyone's basically just hoping for the best when it came to trusting apps online with their data. And outside of prayer, people were relying on things like how professional a company's website looks, or a privacy policy, or even price — all of which can be easily faked or copied.

Since no standard existed, we set out to create one, so people would be able to reliably see which apps and services they could trust. This is how we came up with the concept of services that are Openly Operated™, a certification that creates trust through complete, verifiable transparency.

Funding Source

To achieve the goal of "trust through transparency" for all apps and services, we're happy to give away the specifications, examples, reports, tools, and other materials for Openly Operated — all for free.

To fund our operations, we are bringing full and radical transparency to one of the sketchiest industries around: VPNs. We run the first Openly Operated VPN service, Confirmed VPN, which has also helped us flesh out the details of how to build a product that anyone can verify, as well as prove that Openly Operated actually works in a live consumer app. We chose to build this because users send all their data through VPNs, so it's critical that the VPN is fully and verifiably transparent. If you'd like support Openly Operated while boosting your internet's security and privacy, please consider signing up for a free trial.

Who We Are

Photo of Johnny Lin with Dog

Johnny Lin
Co-Creator

Johnny is responsible for technical decisions and building out Openly Operated's examples, specifications, and documentation. He was an engineer at Apple iCloud and since then has built several apps featured by the App Store. Johnny is an alumnus of Brown University.

email | medium | telegram | linkedin | twitter

Photo of Rahul Dewan

Rahul Dewan
Co-Creator

Rahul builds tools for Openly Operated, and also handles legal, management, and directional decisions. He also created Duet Display, a second screen for your iPad, and has previously worked at Apple. Rahul is an alumnus of Stanford University and Georgia Tech.

email | linkedin


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Learn More

User Benefits A deeper look into the many benefits for users, with examples and references.

For Companies See why companies and businesses also benefit from being Openly Operated.

How To The requirements for Openly Operated products, and how to get started.

About Us Read about the values, mission, origin, and creators of Openly Operated.

Reports See live examples of Openly Operated products and their audit reports.

Get Involved Discuss Openly Operated, transparency, the future of the web, and any related topics.