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Customers demand Internet privacy


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									by: Marjan Steneker

... and you'd better sit up and take notice! Customers concern over Internet privacy issues is on
the rise, and for good reasons.

Because of SPAM and phishing e-mails, identity theft and viruses, it's completely
understandable that customers have a hightened concern about their Internet privacy. And it's not
only about e-mail adresses and credit card numbers either. More and more companies are
collecting vast amounts of data on their customers surfing and buying habits, which could give
fascinating insights!

We'll see that more and more customers are demanding to be informed about how companies are
addressing these concerns. And every ons is scrutinized to see if they deliver on the promises
made. So businesses can better comply, or prepare to be left behind.

How you can assure Internet privacy for your customers

1. Create a privacy policy and stick by it

As said, customers will want to know what your internet privacy and security policy is, so you'd
better have one! It should have the following aspects in it:

- Secure data: All data must be protected by firewalls, virus protection and any other measure
you can take to establish data integrity and data security

- Limit access: Access of data must be granted to as limited a group of employees as possible

- Opt-in: Always ask a customer for the use of personal data, tell the goal for which you need the
data, and use the data only for that specific goal

- Double check: If you cannot be sure of the users identity (e.g. when they enter an e-mail
address for a news letter) have the request confirmed

- Permission: Never share the information with any 3rd party without the customers permission
(don't forget to check the Internet privacy policy of the 3rd party)

- Customer access: Give customers access to their own data, and an option to change it (this does
not have to be online, but is to be preferred)

- Local data: If you use a local means of storing data (ie. on the customers PC, like cookies),
explain why and how you use this information

- Enforce: Make sure you enforce this privacy policy, if possible by becoming a member of a 3rd
party privacy program, like TRUSTe or the Better Business Bureau

- Children: This is an adult game, do not actively collect personal information from children
- Change: Tell what you will do when you change the privacy policy

2. Make info available online

Make sure that your Internet privacy policy is prominently available on your site, preferrably
from every page. Also, make all contact information (e-mail, address, phone number, etc.)
available in the same fashion. You don't want your customers to have to search for the info, do
you? They might not find it, and then it's...

Click. Bye-bye!

3. Address all concerns

Even with an Internet privacy policy prominently available on your site, customers will contact
you, to double-check that they can trust your company with their personal data. This is no
distrust, sometimes customers want to be reassured by a real, life person. So make sure that you
can handle all those inquiries, fast and reassuring.

This article was posted on September 13, 2005

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