Well in the past week several major players in the online and tech community have either come clean or been exposed concerning privacy related actions such as keeping your data without telling you, copying your entire address book or watching your browsing habits.

Now none of this is new stuff – as long as there has been an Internet we have had issues over our data and privacy.  It has gotten somewhat better recently because of a renewed focus on the part of tech companies who have decided to change their ways.  Unfortunately, those changes have come about because of an outcry from the general Internet population because the company was caught with their fingers in the privacy cookie jar and they were keeping all the crumbs without telling anyone.

You would think that those types of things, which happen all too regularly, would slowly start to stop as companies read the tealeaves in relationship to privacy and change their conduct behind the walls of their business.

Well based on the most recent issues that have come to light that is a very poor assumption on my part.

When are companies going to get it that privacy is the all important issue. It does not rank at the bottom of the list but is a primary factor for anyone who is online these days using a companies services and software.

Here is my layman’s suggestion when it comes to these privacy issues specifically the ones that will come in the future and we know they will.

Clean house.  Take a look at every process in your business and see how it impacts privacy.  If you are retaining data that either your customer is unaware of or the terms of such retention is buried deep in some terms of service or other agreement between you and the customer then take off the layers of gobbledygook and spell it out in plain language so everyone can understand what it is you’re doing.

The next step is to give your customers a choice between participating in that process or removing all of their data you’re currently retaining.  Basically an Opt In program for anything related to privacy and data retention.

This will bring everything into the light of day, everyone will understand what it is you and they are doing and it puts us all on the same page.

Anything less than that is just smoke and mirrors.