BC Businesses behind in Online Privacy Policies – Is your firm clear, transparent and complete?

August 20, 2013

Last week, the BC Office of the Privacy Commissioner published a new guidance document to help companies write clear, transparent and complete online privacy policies. The guide is called “Practical Suggestions for your Organization’s Website’s Privacy Policy”.

This document is a result of a recent experiment carried out in BC and in nineteen countries around the globe and we review what they found.

Do you even have one?

In Canada, the BC Office of the Privacy Commissioner examined more than 250 websites doing business in the province, including law firms, to see what companies were telling users about the amount and type of personal information being collected, used and disclosed. The process was meant to simulate the client experience by spending a few minutes per site checking for performance against a set of common indicators.

Yosie Saint-Cyr , the managing editor of the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) of Ontario’s monthly member e-newsletter ELAW, wrote a great overview piece on the report.

She points out that the results of both global and BC examinations indicate among other things that:

  • 45 percent of B.C. businesses did not have the required privacy policy posted on their website, which is more than double the global average of 21 percent
  • there was not enough information to users about the type and amount of personal information they collect
  • the policies were written in technical or legalistic language, making it difficult for the average user to understand what they were consenting to

Does your firm make it clear to clients (and its employees) what data you are collecting and for what you are using it? Do you include not only the data collected in regards to your website but your e-mail marketing campaigns and social media sites? Share what you are doing in the comments below.

Lynn Fitzpatrick Foley
Fitzpatrick Foley

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