People fall into two camps where online privacy is concerned: The first are the “Obsessed,” i.e. people who are driven to learn and understand everything about it, and to control their own online privacy. The second are the “Whatevers,” i.e. everybody else, who knows they “should” be concerned, but for whom privacy is not important enough to be on their radar.
As web users we flit from website to website looking for something – the answer to a question, products to buy, cat videos to entertain us – and we’re too busy to be concerned about the information being collected as we do that; however, if you are responsible for a website, put yourself in the obsessive category. You need to at least cover the basics where privacy is concerned, and if you collect personal information it’s wise to explain that.
Do your visitors need to know about cookies? The majority of visitors to your website are going to be in the “Whatever” camp, and you might not be capturing “personally identifiable” information, but you do track behavior, e.g. which pages are visited, on which day and for how long by using cookies – via the Google Analytics code installed on your website. You should be transparent about this practice.
Yet more info about your visitors?
Ditto for conducting business in countries where people and their government take privacy seriously.
Set an Example: Be Transparent
The frenetic way we use the web has made us complacent about privacy issues, but as business owners we need to know how the issues relate to our own website. I guarantee data collection will become more, not less, complicated in the future.
By being transparent about data collection on your website, you show a level of responsibility. When enough of us do it, we ward off having legislation require it.
Privacy Forum in Washington, DC
On a personal note, I organized an event sponsored by the Assn for Women in Communications to discuss privacy issues in relation to the data collected by domestic drone surveillance. “Drones, Privacy & You” is offered as a way for everybody to learn and weigh in…and to convert both the Obsessed and the Whatevers to a body of citizens who are concerned about and willing to influence the privacy that will soon impact us.