Protecting yourself, your customers, and your data is a concern for anyone with a website or online presence. What can you do as a business owner to promote privacy and assure your customers?
Things to Know
First, know your industry. Certain industries have federally mandated privacy requirements. For example, medical information is highly sensitive and highly protected. So are financial transactions. If you are providing these types of services, federal laws likely dictate the way in which information can be handled, and if, how, and when it can be shared with third parties. If you don’t know which laws apply to your business, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a good place to start.
If you don’t know this, talk to someone at your business who does. Depending on the volume and type of data your business collects, you may even want to go one step further and conduct a risk assessment. This will help you to better understand what disclaimers are appropriate.
Third, know your customers. Are your customers large corporations who require a high level of security to do business with you? What is the relative sensitivity of the data–is it just an email address, or is it a Social Security number?
Do you ask for any information that you yourself would hesitate to give out?
Now that you’ve considered the type of data you collect, who is using it, and your customer’s concerns, it is time to draft a policy. The language should be in plain English and comprehensible. You will want to display it in a prominent place on your website. You will also want the level of detail to appropriately address the audience and volume of data collected.
The language should be in plain English and comprehensible.
If your website collects more information than necessary, it’s good practice to allow users to opt out of sharing everything. Giving customers control over their data may help to build confidence and a sense of security.