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    Op-Ed at ITWorld: Wanted: Privacy policies written for human beings

    ITWorld has an opinion column about the problems with privacy policies:

    As a concept, privacy isn’t difficult to grok. People should have control over their personal information and how it is used. If they don’t want it used, there should be a simple and permanent way to prevent that from happening. Period, full stop.

    But reading the average privacy policy – and I’ve read literally hundreds — makes you want to lie down with a cool towel over your head until the pain passes. They are written by lawyers for lawyers, with little regard for what users can and can’t understand. They can also be beasts. […]

    If you want people to understand privacy – and maybe not be either so blasé or so paranoid about how their data is being used – we need privacy policies that human beings can understand. […]

    So here’s what I propose. Keep the legalese for the lawyers, if you must, but boil it down to the essentials for the rest of us mere mortals.

    The first time you visit a site or log into it, the site should display a pop up window with four bullet points listing:

    * The personal identifiable information the site gathers. Name and address? Credit card? IP and location? A simple list would suffice.

    * What the site does with your PII. Will third parties have access to your data? Will advertisers?

    * The ability to opt out on the spot. Don’t like what the site is doing with your info? Click this link to remove your data or limit sharing.

    * Want to dig into the minutiae? Here’s a link to the longer legalese.

    Simple, easy, effective, and no migraines. Is that really so difficult? I don’t think so. What do you think?

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