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Generating trust through privacy statement

The Internet is a now a virtual jungle. There are many dark alleys and dangerous places. The average surfer is becoming more and more aware of "little nasties" such as web bugs, email taps, invasive web site monitoring -the list goes on. 

It is getting more difficult to convince our visitors that we are not there to fleece them, rip them off or con them. I guess you can't blame people, there are many among us that will. We've found this out the hard way in recent times through dealings with some of our merchant advertisers. It doesn't seem to matter the size or stature of the dotcom, corruption is rife throughout the online world - just as it is in the physical world.

How can you reassure your visitors that you have good intentions?

A great way to gain the trust of web visitors is with the introduction of a Privacy Statement. It is a declaration to your visitors about what your site contains. The privacy statement also declares what type of information you gather from your visitors and how you use it.

If you have read a Privacy Statement, you may feel that you need a team of lawyers and a huge bank balance to draft one! Actually, you can make them up free of charge using a number of generators available on the web. The generators take you through the process, step by step, with explanations of the various sections that you should complete.

You will be asked to supply the following details:

  • Type of data collected from hit counters and server logs (and why)

  • The use of cookies on your site (why you use them)

  • How you secure the information that you gather (is it stored on the server etc.)

  • Public forums and discussion boards (warn visitors about revealing personal information)

  • Advertising arrangements (do your advertisers use cookies with their banners?)

  • Whether you have external linkages from your site (many visitors don't realise that they are clicking on an external link until they have been redirected)

  • Options for visitors to unsubscribe from lists.

  • How visitors can contact you

If you are able to collect the above information before beginning the statement generation, it will make the whole process a great deal more efficient.

It will take approximately 30 minutes to an hour to complete.

A privacy statement not only puts your visitors mind at ease, but also adds professionalism to your site. A reassured visitor is more likely to purchase something from you.

Please note, a privacy statement is a legal document - think carefully before implementing one.

The following are a couple of reputable sites where you can generate your own Privacy Statement, free of charge:

External usability link http://cs3-hq.oecd.org/scripts/pwv3/pwhome.htm 
External usability link http://www.vt.edu/misc/publish/privacy/ 

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Last modified on 27 june 2004

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