|by Pierce Thorne|
This weekend, privacy policies became an issue around here. Without going into details, we didn't have one, and we were feeling sort of left out. We didn't want folks to think we don't respect their privacy, so we decided we'd cook something up.
Have you ever taken the time to read some of those things? Just in case you're not into wading through deliberatly long and confusing documents, I thought I would sum things up.
We respect your privacy. That is why we are taking the time to write this.
Of course, our definition of privacy is something entirely different than yours, and what we respect about it is that it can make us money.
We will soothe you into thinking that privacy means confidentiality, when in fact we'll describe in obfuscated legalese how we will kiss and tell about every little thing you share with us. All for about a nickel. That's really all your privacy is worth to us.
Not only that, we'll assume you want us to betray your confidence by automatically turning opt-out check boxes off, or opt-in check boxes on. We'll do that every time you visit our opt-in or opt-out pages.
We'll watch where you go, building a nice little database about you. Sure, that helps us guess what we think you'll like, so we can try to sell it to you. But most of the time you're just browsing, using up our network bandwidth and server capacity. We both know you really don't plan on buying. So we'll sell you out to the list builders. We get our nickel, and they get to build a tidy little database about your travels. Like the fact that you visited those nudie-cutie sites last week (Oh, of course that was an accident! All five times! They understand that!) And that you have a weakness for online gambling. That your annual income is between 28,000 and 35,000 and that you're divorced. That you're gullible enough to hit click-through banner ads. Or that you think our "free" service really is free.
We'll claim intellectual property rights on anything you put on our servers. Not that we think you have anything particularly intelligent to say. What we're really looking for is stuff that looks like email addresses. Especially if you help us confirm that they're email addresses by actually using them to send email to your friends. Our nickel just became a dime, a quarter, possibly a dollar, depending on how popular you are.
We assume that you like spam. Or at least have grown so accepting of it that you no longer think you can do anything about it. Maybe, from time to time, you'll wise up and dump that hotmail account in favor of a new one. But sooner or later your friends will get sick and tired of updating their address books, and you'll be stuck with an inbox full of spam.
Then again, if you don't like spam, tough tooties. The extent of our caring about what you like and dislike goes only so far as we can peddle it to the list builders. If it can't make us money, we don't care a rat's nether regions what you think.
We assume that you won't get past the first paragraph, or even the first sentence of this policy (the one that says we respect your privacy, remember?) before that MTV attention span of yours has you hit the Back button. But we'll also condition use of the site to accepting this policy. Basically, we have you at our mercy. Gullibility, greed, or even just peer pressure will have you coming back. It's like the Nicotine in your cigarettes.
So you see, we respect your privacy. We respect the revenue stream it represents. Yeah, you're only worth a slim nickel to us, but in aggregate you represent a tidy portion of our cash flow. You're a lemming with a nickel taped to your back. We respect that.
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