Privacy Policies: Internet’s Patriot Act

7 Dec 2010 | written by Dylan Higginbotham for the Reviews, Small Business Tips section(s)

We’ve all scrolled through them and checked “I agree” without even reading a word. It’s the dreaded privacy policy. Does anyone even read those things? What is a privacy policy even for? Most of us think of it as nothing but a confusing mass of legalese. Privacy policies are designed to outline how a business or website gets user data and what they do with it.

So why are most privacy policies confusing? How can an unintelligible mass of words be transformed into a user friendly policy? Let’s take a look at a well made policy to learn more.

UHEAA (Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority) is a Utah State agency which administers student financial aid programs like student loans and their privacy policy is smashing in many ways.

We don’t read we scan

For starters, they divide all the information in easy to scan blocks. We don’t read: we scan. And these large distinct blocks make it easy for us to locate and consume information; instead of getting lost in the document!

Right from the beginning, UHEAA gives me the important facts: the Why, What and How of the privacy policy.

UHEAA Privacy Policy Front Page

UHEAA Privacy Policy Front Page

Next, UHEAA uses a table to show what information they share and if one can limit it. This is great because I can quickly find an important topic and then see if it’s shared and if I have any control over it.

Make contact easy

Have you ever tried to find the contact information for a company and been thwarted? That can be very frustrating, especially when it comes to your private details. UHEAA, however, has made it very easy to contact them with more questions. At the bottom of the page you can find their phone number and email address easily.

If we flip to the backside, UHEAA uses the distinct blocks to collect similar information together. Quickly, one can find out who sent this notice, what UHEAA does, and a list of definitions.

UHEAA Privacy Policy Back Page

UHEAA Privacy Policy Back Page

If you own a business or website that collects your customers’ or visitors’ information, use the UHEAA example to create a simple to understand privacy policy. Be sure to make it as easy as possible for them to know what you plan to do with their information. You’re customers and visitors will appreciate the candid simplicity.

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