Privacy Statements, Notices, Policies …

How often do we care to read the privacy statements we receive from any number of sources these days? I must say I’m not a regular either if you ask me as a consumer. As a Privacy Professional, however, I am always interested (and sometimes fascinated) in reading them.

Take the following extract of the Web Privacy Statement of a very prominent institution, for example:

Thanks for visiting the XXXXXXX website and reviewing our privacy policy! Our privacy policy is plain and simple. We collect NO personal information like names or addresses when you visit our website. If you choose to provide that information to us it is only used to fulfill your request for information. We do collect some technical information when you visit to make your visit seamless. The section below explains how we handle and collect technical information when you visit our website…”

This is actually a website that lets you e-file in addition to providing a whole lot of information on their services . As part of e-filing, however, they do collect all kinds of personal information including Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Credit Card Information etc.  In this particular case, I suspect they forgot to update their Web Privacy Statement when they introduced the e-filing feature.

Consider another example (and certainly a better one) of a Web Privacy Statement. This one is from

I am sure you can see the difference and what a good privacy statement or notice should look like.

Privacy Policies, Statements or Notices are often the face of an organization’s  Privacy Program.  If a privacy policy is lacking details, it is highly likely that the organization hasn’t gotten its act together on privacy and data protection. A good privacy policy must address most if not all of the privacy principles to a reasonable level of detail.

Finally, as consumers, it is always a good practice to take a good read through the privacy statements we receive from time to time via mail or while registering on the Internet for any number of reasons. Given where we are with growing incidents of data breaches, theft and losses, one would be better advised to be safe than sorry.


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Kamal Govindaswamy

Posted on

January 11, 2010