privacy policy

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A privacy policy is really nothing more than a legal document or statement that explains in simple terms how one business collects, utilizes, and makes known to the public any information it receives or that anyone else has obtained from you. It is intended to be shared with those who are interested in such information as well as the general public. A privacy policy may appear at the very top of an individual’s site or email, or at the bottom. It often consists of seven words and is typically small print.

Privacy policies are great ways for businesses to let customers or clients know what types of personal information they can expect to see on their end of the transaction. For instance, a health insurance privacy policy might state clearly that any medical information provided by the customer must be kept confidential and will not be sold or shared with outside parties. This is a key rule that makes this kind of policy very effective for ensuring customer privacy. Other examples of documents that outline how a website or email service can protect the personal information of its users include the Safe Harbor provision of the Privacy Rule. This law states that companies providing Internet access are required to take reasonable steps to protect the privacy of users and to use systems and methods that guarantee that their privacy is maintained at all times.

Another important area to cover when creating privacy policies is what types of personal information about third parties are allowed to collect from users. A good policy will specifically state if the company will share clients’ email addresses or other identifiable information with outside parties. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act also requires that any company that collects electronic communications take steps to protect such information from being used in unfair or deceptive ways. In addition, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that all companies who provide credit reporting use fair and accurate procedures for investigating and maintaining the credit report of each individual. These laws were put in place to ensure that consumers are able to obtain accurate and up-to-date reports from credit reporting agencies.

In addition to defining what types of personal information a company is allowed to collect and share, a privacy policy should also spell out when those types of information are shared and how. A good policy will use specific terms to describe who is entitled to receive such information and how that information may be shared. For instance, a privacy notice may state that a company will only disclose personal information to members of its employees while allowing non-employee access to it on an individual basis through a password mechanism. 

When a business collects email addresses or other identifying information of its customers, it needs to establish a process for doing so. Usually, this means that the company has an established procedure for requesting that any existing customers register their email addresses for future contact with the company. In some cases, a privacy policy will explicitly state that the company will not sell or rent email addresses. However, in other cases, this language may be entirely omitted from the policy. Either way, companies need to document those facts in writing to ensure compliance with applicable laws.

A final component of a privacy policy agreement is the “checkbox” feature. Every time a user clicks a particular “checkbox” box on an online form, he or she must agree to the collection and use of that data. This is an important responsibility for web businesses to remind users at every turn. Without a written opt-in feature, many businesses would violate federal laws against conducting electronic surveillance without judicial authorization. In addition, users know they have the right to decline any request for data collection when they are presented with a privacy policy agreement that explicitly states that opting out is legal and permitted.


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