This appeared in print as part of the story “Best Laid Plans” In 2007, the City of Columbia’s visioning document suggested that council...
Don’t you want to know how businesses are using the private information they collect from you? Don’t you think your customers want the same thing?
Be accurate and complete. Your policy is a pledge to your customers about how your business will handle and protect their personal data. It should reflect data practices unique to your business. You can check out policies of similar businesses for inspiration.
What type of data is being collected? In addition to names, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, and IP addresses, you may be collecting information about purchase histories, gender, age, income, or marital status. Your analytics provider, your advertisers, your third party shopping cart, or your payment processor may all be collecting information throughout your site. These activities should be identified and your customers should be directed to any third party privacy policies that may apply.
Keep in mind that you are legally responsible for keeping the privacy promises you make in your policy. If you have questions, seek legal advice before finalizing the policy. This is important — you want to be thorough.
Sean Spence is the regional director of Better Business Bureau Columbia.