What You Need to Know about Website Privacy Policies
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UPDATED: Apr 30, 2017
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One reason that people don’t bother to read privacy policies is that most of them are written in incomprehensible legalese.
However, for Instagram in the UK, a privacy lawyer rewrote the terms in more child-friendly (and adult-friendly) language, as Quartz reports.
Privacy policies have been (unusually) in the news recently thanks in part to a new genealogy site called FamilyTreeNow.com.
As an ABC News station reports, the site offers the same family history information to anyone with the same first and last name.
Identity thieves can use sites like this one to figure out things like your mother’s maiden name and the name of the street you grew up on.
Some site privacy policies allow personal information to be shared with, and sold to, third parties such as spam marketers.
Most sites have opt-out policies, but most people fail to take advantage of those.
As Motherboard reported,
someone read Evernote’s policy and found out that the company was going to let engineers have access to user notes in an anonymized fashion. That didn’t go over well, even after a defense by the company’s CEO. The company eventually announced that it would back off the changes it was going to make…
In the early days of the Internet, privacy was often overlooked.
A 1998 FTC report to the US Congress showed that 85% of websites asked consumers for some kind of personal information, but only 2% has a comprehensive policy explaining how they planned to use that information.
That’s changed over the years.
Online privacy is now governed by a web of state and federal laws. These include:
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
- The California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)
Even people who live far from California benefit from the California privacy law. Because California has such a large share of the US population, and online markets want to be able to reach that audience, almost all websites in the US (and many around the world) comply with California website privacy laws.
Misstating how information is collected and/or used could lead to consumer lawsuits and even government prosecution.