Many consumers ignore
privacy policies and for good reason - they are notorious for
being filled with legal jargon which renders potentially crucial
information easily misunderstood. It seems sometimes as if not even the original writers
of privacy policies have read the statements or even understand
them at all!
While overcoming the
misconceptions about privacy policies is not easy, the information
contained in privacy
statements is important to consumers. A person
interested in the disclosure of his or her personal data should
read the privacy statements carefully. Here's how....
The first step toward making use of a privacy statement is to
locate it on a company website. If it is non-existent or hidden, that may be cause for concern. Companies should
if a particular policy seems dense, there are some key ideas that
consumers should strive to understand. Remember that
privacy statements were created for a reason – to assuage fears
about companies requesting consumers to disclose personal information.
The crucial parts of a privacy statement can be addressed
with the following three
What personal data does the business collect?
does the business make use of the data?
information does the business disclose to others?
Since nearly every
business on the Internet requires the collection of personal
data, it is useful to know what is essential and what is not.
The most important information requested is often a person’s shipping address
and credit information, as these are used for sending ordered merchandise and billing the customer.
Beyond the most basic data, some businesses may use personal
information to track spending habits, often for the purpose of
targeting their advertising efforts. Since many people find this practice
disturbing, it may be wise to find out if a business
participates in such practices. Finally, it may also be crucial
to learn if a business is selling personal
information to others. This business practice has been known to
increase the amount of unsolicited email. If this is mentioned in
may be best to avoid dealing with the company at all.
In summary, a customer seeking to know more about how companies
treat their private information would be wise to read companies’
privacy statements. Once a person understands what is said and
why it is said, a person will no longer write off privacy
policies as needlessly time-consuming. A person will want to
know what a business does with personal information, and why it
may matter. It is better to spend the time necessary to
interpret the policies than wonder what happened at a later
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