Consumer Internet Safety and Privacy Rights – Standards for Respectful Companies

June has been designated Internet Safety Month, and to honor this month I’ll be posting a series of blogs. To start the month off right, here is the latest version of what I believe customers have the right to expect – and demand:

ALL Internet users have the right to a safe Internet experience, and respectful companies strive to provide quality safety and privacy options that are easily discovered and used by consumers. Your safety and privacy, as well as the safety and privacy of your family on the Internet should be core elements of online product and service design.

In a nutshell, every online consumer should have these rights:

  • Establishing safety and privacy settings should be an element in the registration or activation process. This includes informing you in easily understood language about the potential consequences of your choices. This allows, and requires, you to make your own choices, rather than being pushed into hidden, default settings.
  • During the registration or activation process, articles of the terms and conditions, and privacy policy, that might affect your privacy or safety, or that of a minor in your care, should be presented to you in easy to understand language, not in a long, complicated legal document in small font.
  • You have the right to expect complete, easily understood information and age appropriate recommendations about every safety and privacy feature in a product or service.
  • You have the right to easily report abuse of the products or abuse through the products of you or someone in your care.
  • You have the right to expect a “product recall notice” or alert if a significant safety or privacy risk is discovered in an online product or service you or someone in your care is using.
  • The provider needs to publish on a regular basis statistics demonstrating how well the company enforces its policies. Such statistics should include; the number and types of abuse reports, number of investigations conducted, and number and type of corrective actions taken by the provider.
  • When services or products are upgraded, you have the right to be informed of new features or changes to existing features and their impact on your – or your child’s – safety or privacy in advance of the rollout.
  • When the terms of use or privacy policy of any provider are about to change, you have the right to be informed in advance of the changes and their impact on your – or your child’s – safety and privacy.
  • When a provider informs you of changes to their features, privacy policy, or terms and conditions, they should provide you with a clearly discoverable, way to either opt out, or block the change, or to terminate your account.
  • When terminating an account, your provider should enable you to remove permanently and completely all of your personal information, posts, photos, and any other personal content you may have provided or uploaded, or that has been collected by the provider about you.
  • Any third party that is used by your provider needs to adhere to this bill of rights. It is your provider’s responsibility to require and ensure that any third party it is using fulfills this requirement.
Linda Criddle
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