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June 18, 2019


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Ellen Wynkoop

Thank you.

George Raymond

Thanks, Lynn, for your thought-provoking text. The problem is generally that you must acknowledge a company's privacy policy (or other terms and conditions) for electronic access to their product or service. And no one reads these things, well-written or not. Still, I no longer do anything by phone that I can do faster, more easily and more reliably online. If you reserve your restaurant table by phone to ensure your privacy, you also need to pay in cash. So I just click all those boxes and hope (probably naively) that behind these privacy policies are privacy LAWS that will protect me.

Peter Schreiner

I try reading these from time to time, call it a penance. But I soon lose focus and find my mind drifting away to memories of less torturous endeavors. What's the old saying, why use ten words when a ten thousand will do? All the same, I get the gist of their intent and think we should call these incomprehensible disasters what they are, surveillance policies.

Patty Rechberger

I agree with other commentators here. I may glance at a privacy policy, immediately get bored trying to read it, then click that I read it and move on. It is too convenient to do things online rather than making calls, and I assume that all of my information is already being shared anyway - in the age of social media and the Google monster of an organization, assuming privacy of any kind for any information in a digital device is probably naive. Instead, I try to minimize what I do share, but the truth is that I have no idea what kind of private information is out there in cyberspace about me.

Business Writing Blog

Hi Ellen, George, Peter, and Patty,

Thanks for thinking about this topic and sharing your ideas. Here's a little more of my thinking:

The main reason I'm avoiding these policies is not privacy. It's that I hate the idea of clicking to acknowledge that I read and accept something when I haven't and I don't. It seems phony to do so, and it allows companies to be shoddy with their communication, shoddy in ways that they cannot be in their other customer communications. I don't want to be complicit in this sham when I don't have to. When I have to, I'll mutter a curse and click Accept.



What a noble idea, a privacy policy I could agree or disagree based on my understanding of what I read. The problem is that I would be so limited on my ability to work if I did not agreed even without reading or understanding. If I take your stand I would not be able to use Windows or Apple products and so many others. My question is, Is the privacy agreement useful at all?

Business Writing Blog

Carlos, yes, it 's a crazy, noble idea. I'm trying it out selectively to see how much it hurts.

Is the privacy agreement useful at all? To the companies that publish it, yes. Litman-Navarro, the author of the piece I quoted, himself quoted Jen King, the director of consumer privacy at the Center for Internet and Society. She wrote:

“These are documents created by lawyers, for lawyers. They were never created as a consumer tool."

I'm going to keep thinking about this topic.


Patty Rechberger


You make an excellent point. The companies are being shoddy, and to the detriment of the consumer, no question.

I enjoy taking a hard stance based on principles as well. In this case, for my own (lazy?) convenience, I'll leave it to you to hold the ground. Thank you for that, and good luck! Keep us posted :)

Business Writing Blog

Hi Patty,

Thanks for the validation. I'll keep you posted.


Amy Martin

I recently started doing business with Forever.com and since this is a cloud photo storage website, I did read the privacy policy and the terms/conditions. I was so surprised (and pleased) to see that the "dumbed down" the usual complicated wording by adding very simple sentences to explain what all the legalese said. Satisfied the lawyers, and me. I had never seen this style before and immediately thought "why do more companies not do this?" See the set up here: https://www.forever.com/privacy

Business Writing Blog

Amy, thanks for sharing your story and this good example. I like the simple, clear Overview section provided on the right.

Sometimes it IS important to read and understand the terms and conditions. Good thing Forever.com made that possible.


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