A privacy policy that doesn’t actively offend me

Date:March 22, 2004 / year-entry #109
Orig Link:https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20040322-00/?p=40133
Comments:    8
Summary:I've ranted before about privacy policies and how they don't actually protect your privacy. (All they're required to do is disclose the policy; there is no requirement that the policy must be any good.) Today I read MetLife's privacy policy and found to my surprise that it does not actively offend me. It's written in...

I've ranted before about privacy policies and how they don't actually protect your privacy. (All they're required to do is disclose the policy; there is no requirement that the policy must be any good.)

Today I read MetLife's privacy policy and found to my surprise that it does not actively offend me. It's written in plain English, it's well-organized, and it actually explains and limits the scope of each exception.

I have noticed how the word "terrorism" has turned into a "magic word" of late. Anything distasteful you want to do, just say you're doing it to combat "terrorism" and people will give you the green light.

Comments (8)
  1. Anonymous Coward says:

    Still, they use a series of vague expressions like in:

    "How We Use and Disclose What We Know About You


    .Help us run our business"

    Hmm… This can mean almost anything…

  2. The problem with privacy policies (and software licenses) is that they are far too long and boring to read every single one.

    What I would like to see is a set of icons that could be added to these licenses that casual users could scan for to get the main points of the license.

    For example, if the license had the "we don’t share email addresses" icon, I would know that the company met a series of standards regarding email addresses.

    For software licenses, if would be nice to be able to quickly see if it is a per person or per machine license and if it allows home and office use etc.

    The way to do it would be for some independent organization to design the icons and attach terms to each one and then only allow companies that meet the terms to use the icons.

    All of this is rather similar to the Creative Commons stuff but a different application and various standards for banking terms and conditions. I wonder if this kind of thing could work?

  3. Anonymous Coward says:

    I think you will find that most privacy policies are very similarly written these days. Do a Google and you will see.

    As for wanting a summary of the policy, and matching it to your requirements, that is what the P3P stuff – http://www.w3.org/P3P/ – is all about. It is implemented in IE.

    On a slightly related tangent, the crap from software packages you have to agree to:

    About 10 years ago Microsoft actually changed their warranty statement to say that they warrant the product will behave substantially in accordance with the accompanying documentation for 90 days. I had visions of Word suddenly turning in a spreadsheet or a PIM after 90 days :-)

    However most software still warrants nothing. If the software described as a "word processor" turns out to be nothing of the sort, well tough. This is actually one of the few areas where I actually praise Microsoft and their lawyers (and even tried to get my employer to do the same).

  4. Peter Evans says:

    That is definitely one of the simpler to read ones I have seen yet. The nice thing was its almost "We am your friend" tone. Unlike the legalistic ones you read where they claim your basically submitting to their will with regards to the data they track about your actions with their website.

    It’s a glass house world with most things nowadays unless you take extra effort and expense to avoid it, its documented in perpetuity.

  5. Matt says:


    Do you connect to Microsoft’s corpnet from home? What do you think of your own company’s privacy policy for remote VPN connections?

  6. Kelli Zielinski says:

    Hmm wonder if that terrorism thing works for speeding tickets… :)

  7. Nate S says:

    Privacy policy, schmivacy policy. The reason companies have privacy policies is to cover their asses. It doesn’t matter how well-written or friendly it is.

    "We may use your information, and disclose it to others, in order to: … help us run our business… perform research for us…"

    This sounds like they can do whatever they like with your information.

    Another section: "Except for joint marketing arrangements, we do not make any other disclosures of your information to other companies who want to sell their products or services to you. For example, we will not sell your name to a catalog company. And we will not disclose any consumer report or health information to other companies so that they can offer their products and services, or ours, to you."

    Except for joint marketing agreements?! The examples exclude a few situations, but I bet you’ll still get $50,000 "checks" from loan sharks with whom they have joint marketing arrangements.

    And I could go on with howlers like "We may disclose this information… to our affiliates [in a number of businesses]… In the future, we may have affiliates in other businesses."

  8. eld says:

    aha, terrorism

    the art that everybody in the globe musing everytime .

    the big trick that invented by the most liars controls the world.

    they’re driving the world to the hell ,transforming freedom to prisons ,

    killing people everywhere ,making the free world offers sacrifices for

    a handful of greedy folks .

    all that on the name of : combat terrorism

Comments are closed.

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