WebRef Update: Featured Article: 3 Myths of Internet Privacy
3 Myths of Internet Privacy
Soccer Teams and Sesame Street
When you register your child for a soccer league, is it reasonable for the team to ask for your name, address and phone? Sure. You like to get a call if a practice is rained out, and the street address list is handy for the occasional carpool, etc...
When you donate money to your local public television station supporting programs like Sesame Street, do you expect your name, address and phone to be sold to the Democratic National Committee? Or, when you open a bank account, do you expect your name to be sold to credit card companies? Heck no!
The point here is to relate these examples to how your Website collects and uses the information from its visitors. Sure, "Privacy Statements" help, but there is no substitute for an honest and open disclosure of what you collect and how it is used. Let's look at three major myths Web companies have today with Web visitor's personal information....
- Myth #1: If we really told people what we do with their information, we wouldn't get it.
Well, if this is the case, than you surely are doing something wrong! People are reasonable. Build the case for why it benefits them to give information. Tell them what customized features your site can offer if they allow you to serve them. Retail sites can offer e-mail notifications when certain product lines are updated, or when their favorite author or musician comes out with a new book/CD.
If your site utilizes cookies to manage sessions, give a link for interested visitors to see the code that places the cookie on their hard drive with sample data. People do care about what you put on their drive. What may appear innocuous to you and your technical staff is many times a mystery to Web visitors. Explain things in plain language.
Next: Myth 2 and 3
Written by Dave Murphy and
Revised: May 10, 2000