Over the past few years, a series of stories have hit the press regarding online privacy — the biggest being about Edward Snowden and the NSA. However, smaller stories that have faded from the nightly news have also arisen. Facebook acknowledged its manipulation of users’ viewable content for psychological studies. The names of patients and the hospital codes for which they were treated were published on a hospital’s website in California and were available for over a year. Target and other companies have been hit with security breaches by outside sources as well.
When a business owner creates a website, the first thing that she needs to determine is the target market. This plays a role in what state’s or country’s laws will govern the privacy policies needed for the site. For example, if a business owner is only going to cater to U.S. citizens, he may not have to worry about Canadian or European Union privacy laws. However, if the business owner will target citizens of both the United States and France, he would have to worry about laws in the U.S. and the E.U., even if the business is located in the U.S.
Regarding privacy policies, both Canada and the European Union have fairly extensive laws in place regarding the information that can be collected from Canadian and E.U. citizens, what can be done with that information, and even how that information can be stored. Due to the complexities of these laws, prior to including the E.U. or Canada in a business owner’s target market, it is essential that the business owner speak with someone versed in Canadian and E.U. privacy laws to ensure that the business is not violating any rules or regulations. Failure to follow the laws can come with legal dealings, fines, and penalties.
State Laws Important in U.S.
The rest of the laws in states vary in both what they cover and whom they apply to. For instance, both Arizona and California have laws regarding releasing of information about what a person has read on an e-reader. However, Arizona’s law applies to libraries whereas California’s law applies to online booksellers as well as libraries that impact not only a governmental entity, but also privately owned entities.
California’s Privacy Laws Are Key
Clearly Explain Data Collection to Users
Privacy Policies Will Evolve