The Importance of Privacy Policies
The legal system often has difficulty keeping up with the rapid pace of technological development. As a result, the rules that protect a person’s privacy in the real world don’t always carry over into digital realms like the internet.
This is especially true when it comes to internet marketing. Data collection is loosely regulated on the internet. Companies like Facebook and Google have the ability to collect (and sell) incredibly private and sensitive information with no fear of repercussion.
For years, the only thing that has provided consumers with any amount of protection are the privacy policies (or “terms of service”) that companies provide to consumers. Privacy policies let consumers know what information the company has access to and how the company intends to use that information, which gives consumers the option of opting out of any internet transaction that threatens their privacy.
Fortunately, for consumers, all of this could be about to change.
The Shifting Legal Landscape
California didn’t start enforcing the policy until December of 2012, when California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed a lawsuit against Delta Air Lines for violating CalOPPA with their mobile app “Fly Delta”.
After filing a lawsuit against Delta, the California Office of the Attorney General sent out approximately one-hundred letters to mobile app developers to notify them that they had thirty days to comply with CalOPPA or face a fine of $2,500 per download.
The recent enforcement of CalOPPA seems to have set the stage for the passage of the “Right to Know Act,” which would require companies to reveal to consumers what personal information they’ve collected and how it is being used. Together, CalOPPA and the “Right to Know Act” mark the beginning of a radical shift in the way that issues of privacy and internet transparency are being interpreted.
The implications of this are clear: for better or for worse, internet privacy laws are changing. The ever-increasing omniscience of internet giants like Facebook and Google has put many watchdog groups and civil rights lobbyists on red-alert. As a result, privacy laws are A) becoming more consumer-oriented and B) increasingly likely to be enforced.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
Janelle Pierce enjoys writing about internet marketing issues, including crowd-funding, online storefronts, sales, shipping, merchant accounts, etc. In her free time she likes camping, kayaking and listening to music.
Image courtesy Alan Cleaver