Author Avatar Web Disasters VII – Privacy

by Webnme2 on Mar 20th 2010

PRIVACY POLICIES AND IDENTITY INFORMATION

Each day we hear of more attempts to phish information by e-mail to steal personal information and ultimately identities. At the same time the amount of privacy threatening spy-ware launched by websites is on the rise.

DON’T MAKE ME FEEL INFO-RAPED

1. Treat Me With Respect

Remember that when I visit your website, I am your guest and I deserve a little respect as your customer. Treat me with the same respect you would for a house guest. Don’t require me to tell you my life story to get in the front door, to make a purchase, or view content. My privacy is important to me. Nothing is more irritating than to go to a website that requires 20 questions to be answered to get help.

2. Tell Me What Your Privacy Policy Is

If you do want information from me, tell me how you are going to use my information, who you are going to share it with, how you are going to protect it, and why you need it. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to a website that went right to collecting information without any link to a privacy policy. That usually tells me that my information is not going to be safeguarded, is going to be shared, and that the website shouldn’t be trusted with that information. If you are running a website, why create distrust and make it ambiguous as to what you are doing? You can end up driving away customers that don’t want their information shared.

3. Don’t Lie To Me

Recently I went to a website that claimed that federal law required them to ask for my birthday so they could comply with COPPA. There is nothing in the law or regulation that requires this. It was a misrepresentation and it was enough to lose my business.

I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to a website for a free subscription only to be confronted with a question asking where I was born, when I was born, the name of a parent, the name of child, where I went to school and other similar stuff. The representation is always the same. They say that the information is needed for audits. Well that is a load of crap. Any form can automatically capture the IP address of the person completing the form and that is unique enough for an audit. They don’t need the information and the lie is enough for me to decide that I don’t need the subscription.
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4. Don’t Give Me A Disease

When you pass on spy-ware to me for your greedy business purposes, it is the same as deliberately passing on a disease. The latter is can get criminal prosecution and it is high time that consumers get similar protection from slimy spy-ware injectors. Spy-ware screws up my computer, makes it run slow, makes me angry, and costs me money to eradicate. Do you really think this is going to make me a repeat customer? If so, you are living in dreamland. People hate spy-ware and nobody likes sites that dump it.

5. Don’t Ask For What You Don’t Need To Know

If you are going to ask for information, ask for only what is needed for the transaction. If I am buying a flashlight battery from you, you don’t need my life story, a biography, or the name of my favorite pet. One website I visited recently asked no less than six personal questions about where I went to school, a family member name, and so on. Why did they need it? Well they really didn’t did they. Customers want to make quick transactions and not have to battle to protect their privacy.

6. Don’t Let My Information Get Stolen

If you are going to get legitimate information from me, make sure it is protected. If you are collecting credit card information and you aren’t making sure that your servers and network are updated, patched, and secure, then you are putting my information and my funds at risk. You owe it to customers to give them the best possible security. Apologies or denials after a successful intrusion and disclosure of customer information is too little, too late. Think liability and lawsuits.

About Webnme2

The author's first experience with computers was with Fortran IV. Wow that's ancient. After graduate school, he taught history for a number of years at a community college before becoming an attorney. In 1997 he changed careers to become a web developer/designer with an interest in all things web related. He currently maintains several dozen websites. This is his personal blog. The opinions expressed are his own.

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