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Rights to Personal Privacy

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Introduction

Personal privacy policies of various companies especially those that provide services via the Internet are not well understood by users. This often makes the clients succumb to shortcomings they could have otherwise avoided in the first place. This is further compounded by the fact that most people do not take their time to read and understand the privacy policies.

Facebook’s Privacy Policy

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Facebook is a popular social networking website that allows users to create accounts so as to interact with others. Typically, the user can customize their profile by posting information such as their date of birth, gender, level of education, professional background, relationship status, interests, location and place of residence. This information is usually offered throughout the registration procedure. Additionally, the user is able to share information such as photographs and links to other websites whenever they want. According to Facebook’s privacy policy, the website is designed to allow easy information sharing (Facebook, 2013).  The user is given the prerogative of choosing what information they want to share courtesy of the privacy settings which can be adjusted to suit their preferences.

Facebook allows further information sharing with other applications and websites. The privacy settings for this service are quite comprehensive if used only within the websites itself and if the users choose options that limit the kind of information shared with other people, applications or websites. Unfortunately, most people do not take time to control the kind and information available to others. This is worsened by the fact that users rarely read the terms and conditions of the company before signing up for its services. Consequently, when their information is accessed and used wrongfully, Facebook is most often not liable as provided in the terms and conditions.

According to Facebook’s (2013) privacy policy addresses six main areas that touch on the user’s information:

  1. Information they receive
  2.  Information the user shares with third parties
  3. How they use the user’s information
  4.  How they share information
  5. How the user can view, change, or remove information
  6. How they Protect Information

Facebook states that it may retain the transaction information of users. However, the users’ consent is sought when it comes to keeping their account information. Facebook also keeps track of the user’s actions such as creating photo albums, authorizing applications or joining a group. The comany agrees that this information is used when choosing the target audience for advertisements. The company also collects information from devices used by users. This entails details like browser nature, location and IP address. It should be noted that Facebook does not seek consent from the user when collecting such information.

Third parties such as game applications and websites that use Facebook as a platform do collect users’ information. Even though, Facebook states that it takes measures to guarantee a user’s information is used by the third parties in a manner consistent with their privacy policy settings, the company cannot guarantee this.

Another statement in Fcebook’s privacy policy is that even if a user deletes his or her information, it may not be permanently deleted. Furthermore, some kinds of information cannot be permanently deleted, an example being the messages users send to each other. When an individual deletes their Facebook account, the company still retains some of it and may make it available to other users.

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Even though, Facebook’s privacy may appear comprehensive at face level, this is not the case. The fact that the company can share various types of information with third parties is quite risky. Information such as the current location of an individual or an event they are attending can be used by individuals with evil intent.

Bank of America’s Privacy Policy

Online banking has not been fully embraced due to mistrust arising from issues such as identity theft (Military.com, 2013). However, Bank of America appears to have instituted strict measures to ensure that client information is not divulged to or accessed by unwarranted parties. Security features such as Site Key Image and Safe Pass plus the use of the latest encryption features instill confidence that client information is secure from fraudsters (Bank of America, 2013). Another positive factor regarding the company’s commitment to enhancing privacy of the client’s information is that they give him/her the opportunity to participate in the security of their information. This is by calling for the user to adjust the settings of their device.

Nevertheless, there are some areas that the bank needs to address so as to guarantee total privacy of information. One of them being that the company needs to give the client more power to choose the websites with which it shares personal information. For instance, information such as the number of times an individual looks at a page, browsing patterns and responses to advertisements may not seems risky to the client’s monetary security. However, this security only relates the client’s financial information. To a large extent, privacy is relative since the kind of information one individual may regard as private may not be so to another. Therefore, when such information is used to choose advertisements to be targeted at the client, then most likely there is a breach of their privacy. Not all individuals may be comfortable with the fact that their actions are being monitored in any way.  

In conclusion, Bank of America’s privacy policy is comprehensive enough given the fact that information such as the name, postal or email addresses, telephone, fax or mobile numbers, account numbers and social security number of the client are not shared with any other party unless and otherwise authorized by the client themselves.

Amazon’s Privacy Policy

Amazon stores an enormous amount of information from users who visit their website. Other than visiting their website, Amazon may also collect information from devices used to access its website (Amazon.com, 2013b). Such information includes the location of the user and the number of times he or she logs in to the website. Nevertheless, the company’s privacy policy generally seems to assure one that the information is kept safe.

For one, when the company is giving promotional offers to customers on behalf of other companies, they do not provide those companies with the customer’s information. This ensures that such companies do not obtain and use the customer’s information without their awareness and consent. Another positive aspect is that the credit card information of a customer is not revealed to other parties except, of course, the credit card company. In fact, only the last four digits are visible. This ensures that tech savvy fraudsters do not access this information. During transmission, the company uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt information hence keeping it away from unlawful parties.

The real concern about the privacy of a client’s information arises when the company shares private information with other websites and/or third parties. According to their privacy policy, Amazon.com (2013a) states that such parties may include affiliated parties they do not control (such as a market place sellers) and third party service providers (such as shipping companies). Amazon’s policy on the information a client may choose to share is also of concern given its somehow restrictive nature. This is based on their statement that the client may not be able to enjoy particular features if they opt not to share some kind of information. Otherwise, in overall terms, the privacy policy of Amazon is quite comprehensive if only the customer can take time to read through it and make adjustments in the privacy settings for further security.

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