Privacy, Please

The Rules

A good privacy policy should cover questions anybody visiting your site might have. Tell people what's being gathered, by whom and for what purpose. Visitors should also be told their options for participating in your information-gathering. Your privacy policy will need to address the following:

Reveal what personally identifiable information is being collected through your Web site, including that which is automatically collected when users log on. TicketsNow's policy, for instance, states that it collects information on visitors' Internet addresses and browser types to help with site maintenance.

Identify the particular business collecting the information. TicketsNow provides its name and address and lists Kopsell's personal e-mail address and phone number.

Tell your visitors how the information will be used. TicketsNow's policy explains that it collects addresses and other information for shipping and billing purposes, in addition to the Internet address and browser information. Let visitors know whom you may share the information with, if anyone. TicketsNow promises not to reveal customer data to anyone else. Inform visitors about choices they have concerning the collection, use and sharing of that information. TicketsNow informs customers that they don't have to register and provide personal information in order to use the site. It also lets them register while opting not to receive newsletters or other e-mail.

Describe security procedures used to protect visitor data from loss, misuse or alteration. TicketsNow describes its industry-standard secure server and encryption methods.

Let them know how they can view the information you have collected on them and correct any inaccuracies.

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This article was originally published in the September 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Privacy, Please.

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