Saturday, March 12, 2005

MSN implements shortened, layered privacy notices on its sites

According to CNet News, Microsoft has just moved to a shortened privacy statement on all the MSN sites. These provide a high-level overview of the information collected from a specific site and allow you to click for more detail. The window below contains the general MSN Summary Privacy Statement:

MSN sites get easy-to-read privacy label | CNET

"... A standard notice contains six sections covering the scope, information collected, use of the information, consumer choices and company contact information. It also includes a section for important notices to the consumer.

While their appearance is much simpler, the notices are difficult to write in plain language, McDade said.

'It was a very hard challenge to summarize (our practices) into a short snapshot and to write it in such a way that people thought it was a fair representation,' she said.

Microsoft has not yet implemented the shorter form on its main Web site. "

I usually recommend that my clients use privacy notices that are as reader-friendly as possible. One of the key elements is to make sure the reader does not have to wade through a bunch of stuff to get their questions answered. Once you figure out what most customers who read the notices want to know, put it in a summary at the beginning or somehow highlight those sections in the text. Customers read privacy notices because they are suspicious or have a question. You want to answer the question and alleviate their suspicions. Notices like those implemented by MSN look like they'll do a good job at communicating their policies and practices.

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