Privacy Policies

Why is it that so many organizations feel that it is morally right for them to assume they can use my personal information (possibly collected without my knowledge) for any purpose they can think of without first asking permission?

I went to sign up for a weekly movie showtimes newsletter from Famous Players and decided to read their privacy policy. It turns out that if I don’t want them to sell my name, address, and email address to random, "reputable" organizations, I have to explicitly email them and ask that they don’t. If I don’t want random junk email from Famous Players, I have to ask them not to send it. They even have the audacity to say that they may use information collected automatically from people who just browse through their site for any purpose they see fit. And, to add insult to injury, they didn’t even write out their privacy policy in properly composed English or even Legalese. I mean, their policy essentially gives them the right to use my personal information, no matter how it was collected, in any way they see fit, without my permission. In fact, they even say straight out that they may use information collected for "unanticipated purposes" that are not laid out in the privacy policy. Of course, I can email them and ask them not to do that.

Now, I do have to give them credit. They required me to check off a box to say I had read and understood their privacy policy before I could sign up for this weekly showtimes newsletter. If I had checked that box without reading the policy, I would deserve anything that came out of it. I imagine most people do just that, however. I immediately terminated the process of signing up for this newsletter when I read their privacy policy.

I am hereby putting out a call to everyone who browses the web and/or signs up for anything to check on the privacy policy of the organization they are dealing with. I further charge all of you to refuse to provide any personal information to any organization which has a privacy policy you find inadequate or distasteful. I aslo urge anyone who finds a policy they disagree with to let the organization know (if at all possible) and to be explicit that any personal information contained in that communication is not to be used for any purpose whatsoever beyond discussion of the complaint. If enough of us do this, then maybe things will change without clogging the courts with yet more lawsuits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *