educational

Peeking at Privacy Statements

Stephen Yagielowicz

Privacy Policies are an often overlooked facet of adult Websites, but a facet that Webmasters overlook at their own peril. In an era of increasing governmental scrutiny, it behooves us all to ensure that we comply with the guidelines and mandates of those who have the ability to enforce their wishes, and the FTC is one such organization that definitely wields the power to enforce their stated agenda:

Many adult Webmasters may not realize this, but they face a greater likelihood of prosecution by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for trade law violations than they do of being prosecuted on federal obscenity charges by the Department of Justice. While the evidence of an increasing Webmaster awareness of the potential threat of obscenity prosecution can be found in the apparently decreasing percentage of those adult Web sites offering hardcore tours, content, or advertising outside of an age-verified environment; deceptive and / or illegal practices such as 'spamming,' 'mouse trapping,' 'page-jacking,' abuse of the word "free," and an infinite variety of other deceptive trade practices are running rampant.

This trend does not bode well for the legitimate, long-term 'players' in our industry, and only serves the greed of short-sighted scam artists who poison the minds of our potential prospects, making them fear the consequences of clicking a link, entering their email address or credit card information into an online form, and further creates an additional hesitation when considering the joining of a pay site.

One of the major factors contributing to this consumer hesitation is the uncertainty of how their personal data will be handled (or more accurately, mishandled). This is aggravated by a public perception of "shady" characters in the adult business, and though they continue to demand our product, many prospects are wary (and rightfully so) of the purchase procedure and its associated security issues.

So once again, I find myself on the side of the government, and feel obligated to encourage everyone to add this disclosure document to your sites. Rather than frightening prospects away, you are much more likely to comfort and reassure them by posting such a notice, and this can only increase sales — an economic incentive beyond the legal and moral obligations you face to do so. Let me make it easy for you:

A Simple Sample Privacy Statement
The following is a copy of my first privacy statement, crafted for the needs of one of my earliest AVS sites. While the terms of this statement will not suit every site (and indeed, the coming generational incarnation of PORNWORKS will require an updated privacy statement), it will serve the needs of many simple Web sites. You are free to use this privacy statement on your own site, making any necessary changes to accommodate your specific requirements — just realize that I am not an attorney, and this is not being represented as the best, only, or 'correct' way to fashion such a statement, but as an example of a 'workable' document that is far better than nothing at all, and one that presents very little burden for you to incorporate into your site:

Paradise Multimedia has created this privacy statement in order to demonstrate our firm commitment to protecting your privacy. The following discloses our information gathering and dissemination practices for our site PORN WORKS: The Smut Factory.

• We use your IP address to help diagnose problems with our server, to focus our marketing by gathering broad geographic and demographic information, and to administer our website.

• We do not use cookies, nor do we collect your e-mail address, or any personal or otherwise identifying information.

• This site makes chat rooms available to its users. Please remember that any information disclosed in these areas becomes public information, and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information.

• This site contains links to other sites. Paradise Multimedia is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such websites.

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, our practices, or your dealings with this website, please email privacy@pornworks.com

Simply change the appropriate items in this statement to reflect your own company and site name, along with your own e-mail address, and post a link to the page containing this information on your Web site's home page. By filling out an extensive online questionnaire, users will be able to have the next best thing to a customized, professionally written statement by your own attorney.

Crafting A Custom Statement
For sites whose information gathering practices are not adequately covered by the simple statement above, the best alternative is to seek out competent legal representation, and to have your attorney craft a privacy statement suitable and customized for your Web site's particular requirements. In the absence of competent legal guidance, many Webmasters may feel that their only alternative is to "borrow" a statement from another site, a practice which not only infringes upon the copyright of the site from which this content is taken, but leaves the Webmaster vulnerable as the stolen statement was likely customized for the source Web site's particular needs and application, and may not provide you with adequate protection, especially as the statement may be misleading — a potentially larger problem than not having any privacy policy.

A far better alternative is to use the OECD Privacy Statement Generator, a privately sponsored, free service of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. By filling out an extensive online questionnaire, users will be able to have the next best thing to a customized, professionally written statement by your own attorney. You can find the generator here.

I will personally be adding and / or updating the privacy statements on all my sites over the next few days, a process made simple through the use of 'includes' and / or hyperlinks to centralized documents. Why not take a few moments to see if your privacy statements are in order — it's the right thing to do. ~ Stephen

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