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About Website Privacy Policies

Many people believe that a good web site must have a Privacy Policy page. This is generally a publicly displayed document which outlines the restrictions on the ability to collect and use customer information. You would usually see a link to a web site’s privacy policy placed within the footer of the page in many cases accompanied by a “Terms of Use” link and a copyright notice.

Most web site owners believe that having a privacy policy page makes their web site look reliable and trustworthy this way making visitors more likely to reveal personal information and take advantage of the services offered. With the rise of the Internet era, e-commerce endeavors become more and more popular and widely spread. Every large and well-known company with a web site has that little “Privacy Policy” link. The number of successfully developed e-business enterprises increases and this apparently encourages a great number of people to get involved in e-commerce. Today even the smallest companies have various “legal” pages on their web sites, including the “privacy policy” one we are talking about.

But does this all actually matter? Should you too have a privacy policy published on your web site? Well, one proved fact is that most people would not even notice the privacy policy link on your web site and even if they do, they will hardly take the time to read it. If you have ever asked yourself what should you place on your Privacy Policy page, here is the answer: nothing. So, why people continue to put privacy policies on their web sites? This one is easy: “Because everyone does it.”

In brief, having a privacy policy on your web site is not mandatory. There are no regulations about this and having one is absolutely not a proof of legitimacy and reliability. This, we believe, is much more important to the web site visitors than to the web site owners.

In some rare occasions, if you collect personal information from visitors to your web site, you may be asked by a potential customer about your privacy policy and you would eventually lose the customer due to the lack of privacy policy. Even though having a privacy policy proves nothing, still there are people who truly believe that such a policy will provide some form of protection of their personal information. Fact is, this scenario strongly encourages web site owners to adopt a privacy policy and put it on their web sites.

With the growth of e-business and the increased number of products and services available for purchase online, privacy protection has become something of great importance to Internet users. More people demand to see a web site privacy policy before they buy something online or disclose their personal information for whatever purpose. Ironically, it is impossible to know whether a web site has a privacy policy and what it actually says prior to visiting the web site in the first place.

Our advice, based on the specifics of online business and the demands of today’s Internet society, is that you seriously consider drafting a privacy policy to post on your web site (or even better, have your attorney draft one for you). Be careful though, because this way you would actually be creating your own law in means that as soon as you inform people of your privacy policy rules, you must follow them. Failing to do so may eventually put you in a very bad position of facing a legal complaint filed by either the FTC or visitors to your web site. If you promise that you will never disclose your users’ names and e-mail addresses, and then one day you are approached by a marketer who wants to buy your list of customers for a very tempting price, you will not be able to do so. If you promise your customers to take certain technological steps to protect their credit card information during online transactions, do not even think of not keeping your promise even if you find this to be amazingly burdensome.

In conclusion, keep in mind that having a privacy policy is not mandatory, but not having one may bring you certain losses. Thus, you should consider posting a privacy policy, but you should do this with utmost caution and be sure that you can keep all the promises you make in the privacy policy document you publish.

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