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Home / Privacy / Shopping / How to Read a Privacy Policy

How to Read a Privacy Policy

The cornerstone of good privacy protection is a Web site's privacy policy -- a statement of how and why a company collects information, what it does with it, what choices you have about how it is used, whether you can access the information, and what the site does to assure that the information is secure.

A website's privacy policy tells you how information the site collects about you is used, shared and protected. On the basis of the information in the privacy policy, you should be able to decide whether or not to give information about yourself to the site.

Where to Find the Privacy Policy

If you don't immediately see a privacy policy when you visit a website, there are several places you may want to look.

  • Check the bottom, side, or top of the sites home page -- often there will be a button, icon, or simply the words "Our Privacy Policy." Clicking on these should bring you to the sites privacy policy page.
  • Look for the policy at the point where information is being collected. You may see the policy, or a place to click through to it, when you are asked to fill out a form with information that allows you to take part in an online activity or submit an order for a product or service. If the policy itself is not posted, there, the site may post a link to the privacy policy.
  • Links that refer to "policies," "about us, "or "terms of service" may also bring you to the privacy policy.
  • If all else fails, use the sites search function and insert the words "privacy policy."

Websites are not required by law to post a privacy policy, and not all sites do so. If you do not find a privacy policy, you may wish to reconsider whether to give your information to the site.

Checklist for Reading a Privacy Policy

When reading a privacy policy, there are questions you should ask:

 
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