Now, in Google’s defense this would be a grave privacy violation and they clearly state they do not register this kind of data. I’m just they can, not that they’re actually performing this. The truth may be somewhere in the middle. If you’re an online business owner, even a small website owner, you might be tempted to collect all kinds of data about your visitors. Even if you’re of the best intentions (to build a better website tailored on your visitor’s needs), know that you need to trend very lightly. Besides certain policies and regulations that clearly state what data can be processed and what can not, which when broken might land you a fat lawsuit, webmasters need to be attentive on how they protect their visitors’ online data. Once in your hands, you are responsible for the safety of this data (i.e. not fall to a third party).
Here are a few basic, yet imperative, steps any webmaster – be it a small online business owner or a full-fledged corporation – needs to take to protect their users online data.
1. Audit your data collection needs
Have a discussion within your organisation about data collection objectives. Your company needs to firmly understand and choose which exact aspects you want to track from visitors. Businesses sometimes collect more data than they realize because they’ve used third-party software code that does so automatically or because a partner, such as an advertising network or analytics company, is pulling data. A lot of people in charge of privacy regulations of websites give little interest and attention to this fact, but someday this might backfire. If you don’t know exactly and I mean EXACTLY what data you’re analytics is pulling in, then you’re vulnerable. And I’m not referring to hackers here, that’s a different picture.
2. Collect only what you need
On par with the previous step, your organization needs to collect only the data that it needs. Sure, you can collect everything and decide latter on what data you choose to use for your marketing efforts for instance, function of your present needs. But doing so increases risk. Data can be lost or stolen by hackers, and customers can mutiny if they feel you’re asking unnecessarily intrusive questions. Keep it minimal.
3. Secure your data
This is a no-brainer. Once you’ve collected customer/user information it’s imperative you secure this information. I’m not going to dwell into the details since this is a subject that could fill entire books, and has. Be sure your security analyst is responsible, capable and in charge of the situation.
Also, whenever your product or website makes changes, make sure your users and customers are being kept informed about these changes. Give customers an online form or e-mail address for communicating their privacy problems or concerns. And be sure to respond to their messages. Such two-way communication can help build trust and loyalty – and help avoid potential privacy crises.