What’s the use of a privacy policy?

use privacy policyIn 2012 it was reported that “16% of Internet users claim to always read privacy policies of the sites and online services with which they share their private information”.

I would probably challenge that figure since I would have anticipated a decimal point to the left, but let us assume that it is 16%. Well for those of you in that group, this article is probably for you.

Buying any technology that is considered ‘smart’ is a painful exercise. It is not a simple task of reviewing the features on offer, but very carefully reading the privacy policy, scouring for any research that reveal privacy and security concerns, and that is just the first week of research.

Once the “personal due diligence” is concluded you would anticipate that you can sit back and enjoy the service by such technology? However, a recent story that went somewhat unnoticed amongst the furore of what is the daily diet of infosec stories was the announcement from one technology vendor that they will be updating their privacy policy.

So what?

Well recent reports that Sonos will be updating their privacy policy is no big deal right? Well per a company spokesperson: “The customer can choose to acknowledge the policy, or can accept that over time their product may cease to function.” For those of you in the 16% you understand what that means right? According to their FAQ you can of course request for your personal data to be deleted, but again your device will stop working.

We live in a world in which personal data as the new oil is the first slide of any presentation related to privacy, so chances are most technology companies understand this. Subsequently the evolution of new business models means that we will begin to see more examples where more data is processed beyond their initial specified purpose (for those of you in the UK that are familiar with the Data Protection Act may like that phrase!).

If you or I think this is unreasonable then tough luck – write off the investment, get a time machine, go into Our Price and buy your 7″ single to play on your record player.

Forcing loyal customers into the acceptance of new business models is particularly unfair, and whilst normally the advice is to do your homework, in these cases it is not really an option. I’m sorry, no upbeat ending this time, I value my personal data, but it seems so does the bottom line of the vendors I trust into my home.

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