Skip to page content or Skip to Accesskey List.


Main Page Content

Let S Play Lawyer

Rated 3.92 (Ratings: 2)

Want more?

Picture of castewar

Chris Stewart

Member info

User since: 16 Jul 1999

Articles written: 3

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.

Great, I'm thinking, this'll be a lot of fun. Where does one begin creating a privacy policy for a website? Well, thanks to the foresight of the ad company in question, I had a place to start (and hence the reason for my post).

"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).

POSSIBLE CONS - The Privacy Wizard asks you right off the bat what your URL is. This makes sense since it needs to drop that URL into the document ("This is the privacy policy for this web address blah blah blah"). It also means that Microsoft is tabulating an amazing list of statistics about websites with mailing lists, discussion boards, etc. etc. I haven't decided if this is bad yet, but I'm fairly sure it will come to tears.

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.

The access keys for this page are: ALT (Control on a Mac) plus: is an all-volunteer resource for web developers made up of a discussion list, a browser archive, and member-submitted articles. This article is the property of its author, please do not redistribute or use elsewhere without checking with the author.