My 2/07/10 Missoulian column
I’ve been writing about different issues involving online privacy, some of which are the huge amounts of data and personal information that companies gather on users. Aside from the technology used to gather information (Web browser cookies, search engine links, etc.), how are companies legally able to gather this data?
The answer is end user license agreements, or EULAs.
It’s almost a “large print giveth, small print taketh away” kind of thing, because we probably read few of the EULAs we agree to.
But an EULA outlines everything the company agrees to do, and not do. If you read many of those EULAs, you’ll see privacy policies among the items, and you might be surprised to learn that sometimes a company can do what they want with your data: use it, share it and sell it.
By reading the fine print you may find that even closing a registered account with a Web site doesn’t require the company to delete your information, as stated in the EULA. And written into many a EULA is the fact that the company can change the EULA, like Facebook on their about-face with user privacy last fall.
Like many the issues of online privacy, knowledge and awareness are the keys to good online privacy habits, so be aware that EULAs exist and how they affect your online privacy.
Next week: Deleting cookies and private Web browsing.
This week in Mac Q & A: Use Apple Mail with GMail