The topic of privacy is at the forefront of the list of legal issues being discussed on the web. Do Google and Facebook respect privacy? Should you have any real expectation of privacy on the web? The answers to these questions are not all the clear most of the time.
Disclosure and Boilerplate
The two biggest issues that come up with privacy policies are disclosure of actions and the use of boilerplate in the language of the policy. Most site owners tend to approach both issues from the wrong perspective.
What about those folks that do read the policy? Most of them will accept the terms regardless of what they say. Yes, Facebook and Google have received flak for their data collection and usage techniques revealed in their privacy policies. How many people have actually stopped using their sites because of this? Very few.
Then we have boilerplate language. For the love of God, don’t use such language. First, you probably don’t know what it means from a legal perspective. Second, you are going to be locking yourself into terms that may not be in your best interest.
When it comes to privacy policies, the best practices you should employ involve disclosing everything you are doing in the way of data collection and use. You must write this disclosure in plain English.
Need for Blogs?
I often see articles and commentary on the web indicating blogs do not need privacy policies. The argument appears to be based on the idea blogs do not have members and do not capture personal information.
First, most blogs do capture the personal information of some visitors. Do you have people sign up for a newsletter? Do you have them purchase something? Both situations involve capturing personal information.
And then we have the comments section. In between deleting all those annoying spam comments, you will occasionally run across a real person leaving a valuable comment. If they provide their name, you are collecting personal information. Not only that, but you are publishing on the web in the comments section for anyone to see.
Ah, but I digress…
Richard A. Chapo, Esq.