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HomePatterns > How to write a privacy policy--if you must                           




Go ahead, reassure me

Reward me for exposing myself to danger

Let me out

Write a privacy policy that people can understand

Explain security before and during the transaction

Example: Privacy Policy at VeriSign

How to write a privacy policy--if you must

"The free state offers what a police state denies-the privacy of the home, the dignity and peace of mind of the individual. That precious right to be let alone is violated once the police enter our conversation."
-William O. Douglas, Address, American Law Institute

As soon as your site asks my name, I get suspicious.

Then if you ask for my address, phone number, credit card number, bank names, account numbers, health history, or current job info, I worry about what you are going to do with that information, and I am likely to nudge legislators around the world to order you to protect my privacy.

If your site mines raw transaction data to identify me, to come up with new offers, to sell my name to eager merchandisers, or to run a more sinister scam, you are going to have to explain how you "share" that information within your own family of companies and outside, or else you will be hearing from the lawyers.

How can you avoid lawsuits, and reassure your guests?

See: Agre and Rotenberg (1997), American Civil Liberties Union (2000), American Express (2001), Bank One (2001), Davies (2001), Federal Trade Commission (1999), Gilbert (2001), Givens (2000), MasterCard (2001), Porter (1987), Rotenberg (2000), Visa (2001).


Privacy policy, a chapter from Hot Text, Web Writing that Works (PDF, 255K, or about 5 minutes at 56K)


Is that a bug on my head? How can I get it off?


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