An easy to understand Privacy Policy

I was just looking at SmugMug’s privacy policy, and I must say I do like their explicit description of what they do and how they collect your personal information…. I took out the interesting stuff so you wouldn’t need to plough through the whole policy yourselves.

“Personal information does not include “aggregate” information. Aggregate information is data collected about a group or category of products, services or customers from which individual customer identities have been removed. In other words, information about how you use a service may be collected and combined with information about how others use the same service, but no personal information will be included in the resulting data. Likewise, information about the products you purchase may be collected and combined with information about the products purchased by others. Aggregate data helps us understand trends and customer needs so that we can better design new products and services, and refine existing products and services to serve our customers better.”

And then of course from this information they would create ‘profiles’ that are attached back to your personal information. I guess they forgot to mention this bit 😉

Additionally, when you visit their Site, they inform the user that information is tracked through the use of “cookies” and “Web beacons.” This is nothing new, although again I was impressed at how well they describe what this is for the average person. A pity that the average person probably doesn’t get to read this far 😉

“Cookies are small files that are stored on your computer by your browser at the request of a web site to store your personal preferences. We use cookies to keep you logged in to the Site, to count the number of unique computers visiting the Site, and to record your user preferences.”

“Web beacons, also known as Web bugs, are small, graphic images on a Web page or other Web-based content that allow the site owner or a third party to monitor the IP address and other information of the site or computer viewing the Web page or content. Web beacons are often invisible to the user because they are typically very small (only 1-by-1 pixel) and the same color as the background of the Web page or other Web content. Web beacons collect the IP address of the computer to which the Web beacon is sent, the URL of the page from which the Web beacon comes, and the time it was viewed. Web beacons can be linked to personal information.”

Well done SmugMug, although I decided in the end not to setup an account when I read the following paragraph, which is incidentally near the top of the Privacy Policy. The privacy laws in the US are not as stringent as the DPA in the EU. In fact their privacy laws are more of a patchwork of laws rather than all encompassing as we have here in the EU.

“If you are a resident of the European Union, you understand and agree that Smugmug stores and processes your information on computers located in the United States, and by providing any data to Smugmug, you consent to the transfer of such information to the United States.”

lol and their privacy laws… no thanks! In any case looks like they are offering a really nice service… maybe I will be lured back later 🙂

2 Replies to “An easy to understand Privacy Policy”

  1. lol Steve, knew you’d jump in on this one 🙂

    I agree with you completely! In fact I was really impressed with the service they are providing… that is why I looked in there, I have family around the globe, and is very nice and professional way to store photos. As said I will probably be back.

    What was impressive, was they had explained their privacy policy VERY WELL and CLEARLY, this was the point I wanted to make. Although like all Privacy Policies a bit long… but quite normal…they need to cover their backs after all!

  2. At the end of the day Karen, any web site can only misuse the information you give them. I don’t supply SmugMug with any information that I don’t want them to have, and I make a habit of lying to web sites that ask for mandatory information that I don’t feel they need to provide the service. They are storing my photos, not my medical records so only need my credit card information, not my life history. On the other hand many people provide loads of personal information to sites like Myspace and Facebook. Have you checked out yet?

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