When you register with a website or engage in any online activity, you are often asked to submit some information about yourself. You are also asked to read and agree to the terms of use and a privacy policy. You may just check the box to agree and continue on without reading any of it. By doing so, you are giving others permission to use the information you submitted, without knowing how they will use it.


Privacy policies usually explain how an organization handles any customer or employee information it collects. This may include your personal data and the details of your browsing habits and history. Privacy policies contain an outline of when, what, and how much of this information will be used. They will tell you if your information will be shared with third parties or sold to them, and if so, why. They will also disclose if any data, such as cookies, will be placed on your devices.


Although you are wary of unauthorized collection of information and understand the importance of privacy policies, you rarely read them. This is usually because you are busy, you don’t understand them, or because they are long. Regulations, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requires that privacy policies be simple, brief, clear and transparent. However, most of them take over 15 minutes to read. They are also often too long, vague and full of jargon and legalese. Most require a high level of reading comprehension.


Apart from the information you submit online, your biometric characteristics can also come under the purview of privacy policies. When you use your devices and the apps on them, you provide some form of personal data. Reading privacy policies will help you know what types of data are being collected and used, and how. Information makes many free or near-free services possible. Similarly, marketers may use it to entice you to buy their products. If you are not comfortable with such uses and wish to protect your information, you can choose not to agree to privacy policies and avoid such services.  The information you provide can be subject to various threats, such as identity theft and scamming, because of the major data breaches that occur in companies. Although there are many laws that protect your privacy, they tend to demand complete transparency from users, but not from online organizations. Moreover, such laws can be ineffectual in dealing with criminals, especially if they are based abroad. Regulations, such as the GDPR, impose stiff penalties on companies for non-compliance. However, many persuade you to let them collect as much data as possible by making the permission process easy and the opt-out difficult. They also reserve the right to change their privacy policies at will. If you don’t agree to their conditions, you lose access to their services.


All sites and apps that collect information should have a privacy policy. Only if a company has a privacy policy should you provide any important information to it. This will help filter out the companies that don’t take your privacy seriously. If you understand and use the various settings and choices in privacy policies well, you can protect your information. Privacy policies should tell you the following: :

  • Types of information collected.
  • Primary purpose of collection and use.
  • Secondary purpose, if any, and use.
  • Information collection methods, including use of cookies and tracking technology.
  • The effective date and validity of the privacy policy.
  • Details of expected changes and the methods in which you would be notified.
  • Your control over the information, such as reviewing, correcting or deleting the information, and the situations and ways in which you can exercise that control.
  • Security measures that protect the information.
  • Third parties that have access to the information and how they use it.
  • The terms of sharing your information with governmental agencies.
  • The people accountable for the organization’s privacy practices and their contact details.

Privacy is a significant part of your life. Your best defense against privacy threats is learning more about them and protecting yourself.

We hope these suggestions have helped and as usual, if you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].  We are here to help.