Around the time I was or just finished reading an article in The Register entitled US military medical records stolen in burglary I received the following email Peter over at the Bellaire United Methodist Church (and also possibly… The Gutless Pacifist?):
I was scrounging around your HYCW site and was looking to see if you had helpful hints for electronic use policies for churches. You know the — don’t surf here, don’t use the church’s site for financial gain.. etc.
Do you have any suggestions for resources?
Grace & Peace
I love letters like that. First, I love the whole Biblical salutation thing. One of my favorite times in church is when a missionary gets up to speak and portends greetings from somewhere on the other side of the globe. Something about it thrills me every time, sometimes to the point of tears. Yeah, I like Paul’s Epistles for the same reason. But I digress …
Now keep in mind, I am no lawyer. So when one asks me about privacy and policy statements, the best I can offer is my minimal, untrained understanding, and links to professionals who actually do know what the heck they’re talking about. In other words, I’ll get you started, but I’m in no way, shape or form the definitive source on issues legal.
Here’s the bottom line. People are reluctant to give you private information because they’re afraid your going to sell it to the highest bidder and get them spammed into oblivion while they’re trying to fend off an incessant stream of telephone telemarketers. So if you do collect any information on your users, you are morally, and in some locations, legally obliged to tell them what information is being collected and to what end. Moreover, if you are going to use this information for marketing purposed, you need to give the user the option to decided what you do with their identifying information. Remember, as Christians, we’re expected to live by a higher standard. Playing games with people’s privacy is a sure way to get them to leave and never come back.
Now not being a lawyer, I went about and did a search on the topic. As you might expect, alot of legalese. But I did find one or two sites that either provide an explanation of your obligations and/or provide forms and/or templates for generating your own privacy statement. Here you go, in no particular order:
- The TRUSTe Model Privacy Statement – Model Privacy Statement serves as a template, prompting you to consider important points in your information gathering policy and practices.
- Virginia Tech Privacy Statement Generator – once you generate it, I suspect you’ll need to modify the references to Va.Tech.
- Creating Online Privacy Policies – old but I found it interesting
- Rexall’s rotten eCommerce example – everyone’s worst privacy nightmare.
- Guidelines for Online Privacy Policies – Online Privacy Alliance
- Copyright Law – Several useful articles by Richard Keyt
- Basic Intellectual Property Primers – Harvard Law School
- Disclaimers – Ivan Hoffman, B.A., J.D. – He is a lawyer and he does know what he’s talking about.
- Contracts for every occasion – Builder.com
Oh, one other note. I think by now I’ve made it clear that I’m not a lawyer. That nothing offered here should be construed as legal advice. Please refer to my Copyright & Disclaimer statement for any further clarifications.