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1) Explain what types of information you collect and how you use it
Provide reassurance. Clearly explain what types of information you ask from your visitors for and what you are going to do with such information. Besides personal information, what other information do you keep track of? Do you collect information from children? How do you verify parental consent for information about their children? Remember that information is power and although about two thirds of Internet users might be willing to accept a guarantee that you will not abuse their privacy, the other quarter feels extremely nervous about the way their personal information might be used. Therefore, if your web site mines raw transaction data to identify visitors, to come up with new offers, or to sell their names to merchandisers, you will need to explain how you share that information within your own family of companies and outside, or else you will very likely face serious legal problems.
2) Explain why your server and online operations are secure
Now you have already told people what information you ask for and what you do with it, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Next you will have to explain what makes your server and online operations secure. You probably do not want to be caught with no answer when confronted with questions such as, *How do you make sure nobody steals my credit card information?* or *How do you protect the privacy of my emails to your customer support team?* Point out how your consumers can tell if they are really on a secure server, i.e. the change in the URL, the icons that show up on the status bar, etc. You may even take a shot at explaining encryption, and the Secure Sockets Layer. Most importantly, concentrate on the benefits to the consumer, for in the end, most of them will not care less about all the security measures you take and all the money you spend to make your website secure, unless that translates into some specific benefits to them.
3) Let customers out
4) Let customers view and edit their personal information
If you give people the opportunity to view and edit their information, chances are they will provide even more. The reasoning under this is pretty basic: almost no one destroys his or her own data. Therefore, whenever you display customers* personal information, place clear and visible labels indicating how they can edit it. Be clear about how they can view and edit their information, i.e. *You can access all your personally identifiable information that we collect online by logging in and clicking the *Change User Info* link in the box on the right-hand side of every page*. Also, answer questions that might be of extreme importance to some customers such as, *Can I review information you have about my child?*.
5) Inform customers about policy changes
6) Tell your customers who to contact in case they have questions about privacy
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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