In a matter of weeks, almost every website I wandered into wanted to know my age. Specifically they wanted to know if I was over 13. At first I thought it might be some sort of nightmarish, taunting hallucination about my hastening march to middle age, but actually it all turned out to be a rush to comply with new privacy laws.
I only mention it in passing because it appears that many web companies have taken a spring cleaning approach to privacy - If we're already getting dirty cleaning the attic, we might as well clean the garage while we're at it.
The result is that I received an email from the ad banner company I use to generate chump change on the one and only website of mine that has a banner. In effect they were asking that I add a privacy statement to my website. This was due to pressure from the advertisers themselves, who were getting pressure from everywhere to outline clearly what kind of information they were getting from web visitors to my site.
"Microsoft" and "helpful" aren't two words you often see together, but their Privacy Wizard
is an easy to use series of questions about what kind of information your site asks of visitors (overtly, like mailing lists or subvertly, like cookies that load up with an ad banner). Five minutes and a click of a button and presto! Instant HTML code for a policy statement. Lawyer in a box!
It's not as good having a team of legal eagles draft it for you, but if you're thinking to yourself you need the protection of a document a team of lawyers have made, you should probably actually hire a team of lawyers (I doubt the Privacy Wizard is going to provide much protection to your average porno site). If you're just looking for general protection, this is a good place to start.
CONS - The Privacy Wizard can only cover so much ground using yes / no radio buttons, so the end HTML code has a chunk you need to edit yourself, outlining a few particulars about your site (not a big deal for people who can hack HTML, but a hassle nevertheless).
TIP - To use the Privacy Wizard, you need to register and or login as a Microsoft bChannel member (>shrug< I have no idea what bChannel is. So sue me. Better yet, talk to my privacy statement). If you have a hotmail account, you're already a bChannel member (uh, thanks Microsoft... I think). I'm warm and fuzzy with the irony of having to give Microsoft information about myself in order to create a legal statement about my website's use of visitor information.