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6 Things You Should Know about Website Privacy

Chayse Thompson
Apr 4, 2023

With the advancement of technology comes the risk of exposure of sensitive information. Thus, internet users such as yourself should understand how your data is being used online. By knowing how data is processed, you can better protect yourself. There is a possibility for identity theft if you unknowingly share personal information online. 

What is a website privacy policy? 

According to Privacy Policies’ website, is a legally binding information explaining how a particular website collects and uses its visitors’ data. Within the document, it explicitly explains what information is collected, how it is being stored and processed. It should also explain whether the data is used solely by the website or if it’s being passed to third-parties.

Consent must be obtained from users/visitors prior to data collection. Website owners are liable for storing of personal information with the individual's approval. It should also include how users can access their personal information. In addition, it should also include an explanation on how to opt out  in the event that users decide to stop data collection.

Depending on the website you are visiting, the collection of personal information could include the following: 

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email
  • Age 
  • Sex
  • Browsing history
  • Current Location

Are privacy policies required by law? Yes, all active websites should have a privacy policy in the header. This also applies to mobile apps creators. The apps should include a privacy policy header. These privacy policies can be found either under the sections ‘About’ header, ‘Legal’ or Privacy Policy.’

What are the types of data collected? 

According to Techopedia, there are two types of data being collected: personally identifiable information (PII) and non-personally identifiable information (NPII). 

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

This includes information that easily identifies you. The information includes your name, address, social security number, and banking credentials. The data collection could be done with the user typing in their personal information. Users provide consent to the usage of their data to make a payment as an example. 

Non-Personally Identifiable Information (NPII)

This data is more about the users' behaviors online. The website users visit and what types of engagement is made during their time online. Their data is collected through the use of website cookies.  

What is website data security? 

Data security pertains to how websites protect the information it collects. Some of the security measures include: 

  • Data are encrypted to prevent unauthorized accessed
  • Secured servers to lessen the possibility of data breach 
  • Access control execution 

Why do websites collect this data? 

There are several reasons why websites collect this information from its visitors. Some of the reasons include: 

  • Personalized experience  - With the gathered information about the user, personalized content can be served for the particular visitor. 
  • To improve apps/ websites’ performance - this will help improve the user design and experience while navigating around the features of the site
  • Ad targeting - Knowing what the visitor is looking for, particular ads can be shown to him/her. For example, data shows that the visitor has been looking for a black men’s shoes. There is a higher chance for conversion if the ads shown to him are black shoes for men.

Why are website policies implemented? 

Privacy policies need to be posted in accordance with the law. It can also be because third party services require it. And lastly, it provides transparency to website visitors. 

To be in accordance to the law

Most countries around the world have enacted laws designed to protect and secure the privacy of individuals. Therefore, website owners are required by law to secure consent from visitors to collect, store and process sensitive information related to them. Failure to comply with the law could lead to legal actions, fines and other sanctions. These countries may have different premises with their data protection laws. Regardless of the coverage of these laws, the important thing is to let users know how their data is protected and their privacy is kept. 

Required by third-party companies 

Privacy policy guidelines are required by third-party companies. If you are using Google, you must disclose to your users that the website uses Google Analytics to process and analyze their data. 

Better transparency 

With privacy policy being posted, users can identify which sensitive information they are sharing with the website and its third-party company. By being transparent, they are increasing their credibility and gaining trust with their users. Showing users how their information is being used gives them a sense of security with their online activities. 

There are websites which do not store or share information. Even if this is the case, it is important to have it posted on the website. Users should still be informed if the site does not collect any online information from its visitors. 

How to protect your online privacy? 

These days everything that we do online is being tracked. Every website we visit or activities we do online provides information. Subtle things such as the movies we watch, music we listen to, posts we share online is a collection of data that can tell our personality. This information is used by advertisers to target us knowing the things we are interested in. 

Now that you understand what online private privacy is, you can take these steps to protect yourself from identity theft or data mishandling. 

  • Take time to read the privacy policy of the website for you to understand what personal information is being collected, and how it is stored and used. 
  • Use VPN if you like your online activities to be kept hidden 
  • Do not share your personal information online even to your loved ones
  • Use unique/strong passwords and log-in credentials 
  • Use password managers 
  • Make use of two-step verification to access your online accounts 
  • Use browser extensions designed to block ads, trackers and other pop-up banners 
  • Make sure to use antivirus for your computer. There are malware and computer viruses that can infiltrate your computer and generate your personal data
  • Check the URL of the site you are visiting. Phishing is possible on websites designed to look very close to the original one. Make sure that the website starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP. S stands for ‘secure’ and Secure Socket Layer connection usage. It should also contain the ‘lock’ icon that gives you an elaborate explanation of the site’s security feature. 
  • Check the properties of the link. Right click the link to see the destination of the link
  • Think twice before clicking on links sent to you by friends and family on your email. Do some research first.   
  • Do not connect to public wi-fi if possible. Hackers can get into the network easily and gain access to your info. 
  • Manage your cookies and delete the ones which related to your sensitive data

Educating oneself about privacy policy is important for internet users. Websites hold a responsibility to protect its users. Likewise, users also have to make sure that their personal data remains private and secured. Never share highly sensitive information online on sites without encryption and clear privacy policies.