Privacy Policies for Web Sites

Having an effective privacy policy can be a key to a successful web site.
A requirement for many web sites these days is a privacy policy. In
many parts of the world government regulations affect the collection,
storage and communication of information about individuals. There are
also international treaties affecting these areas.

Many web sites collect some sort of personal information. This could be
as little as an email address for a newsletter to full personal details
as well as racial, medical and sexual information, as well as bank
account and credit card data. Whilst views and regulations vary, most
privacy regulations boil down to these things:

*    Letting people know what information you are collecting and how

*    Describing what you use it for

*    Stating whether you will share it with anyone else

*    Showing how people can check and correct what information you do have

*    Allowing people to opt out if they want

*    Demonstrating that you protect their data

If your site collects any personal information you really do need a
privacy policy. A big part of making visitors to your site confident
enough to share their information with you is in building trust that
you are not going to abuse the information that you collect. You do
this by being completely open with them about your purposes and
practices. You can write this from scratch but you can also get some
help with this. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) has a huge amount of information available on all
sorts of topics. One of these areas is privacy policy. A search of
their main site (www.oecd.org) finds a Privacy Policy Statement Generator  and a step by step process to using it.
By answering an eleven page questionnaire about the information you
collect, how you use it, etc, the generator will create a draft web
page policy that you can then edit as needed. It makes a very good
starting point and also can serve to focus your thinking about privacy.
Note that the generator produces a .asp web page. Since it uses no ASP
features you can change the name to .htm (or .html) with no problems or
cut and past the code into one of your own web pages.

However you do it, make a privacy policy a priority for your web site if you collect any visitor information at all.

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