Privacy Policy

A document, or even a statement that makes clear how a party gathers, discloses, or uses a client’s data, private or privacy policy discloses some or all of the how the data can be used.  This data is most often personal information that may include name, address, marital status, date of birth, financial records, credit history, in short, anything that can be used to uniquely identify an individual.

It’s the Law

Privacy policies depend a great deal on the applicable laws in the place they are made. It is very common for countries to have their own guidelines and laws about who is covered, and what information is allowed to be collected, as well as what it can be used for.  There are data protection laws in Europe that provide protection for both the public and private sector.

The History Behind Private Policy

The Council of Europe in 1968 realized the effects emerging technology could have on human rights.  This led to the development of policy intended to protect personal data held by both the private and public sectors.  Among the first privacy acts to be passed was the Swedish Data Act of 1973, and it was followed up in 1977 by the West German Protection Act.

The United States first showed concern over private policy in the late 1960s.  The first legislative response was the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the 1970s.  While it was not explicitly designed to be a privacy law, this act gave consumers the ability to examine their own credit files and to make corrections if any untrue information was contained in them.  Restrictions were also placed on the kinds of information that could be included in credit records.

Private Policy Laws Today

The European Union in 1996 passed the Data Protection Directive.  Also in 1995, the United States passed the Fair Information Principles.  Both of these laws provided for a set of governing principles that are non-binding for the commercial use of personal information.  While it may not be binding policy, these laws provided for guidance in drafting private policy.

Today, there are federal laws in the United States that govern privacy policies in specific circumstances, and they include the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  This makes web sites  that collect information about children age 13 and under publicly post their privacy policy as well as adhere to restrictions on sharing information.

In 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act was passed.  This act requires that businesses and other institutions that are engaged in financial activities give very clear and accurate statements about all of their information gathering practices.  This act also puts specific restrictions on the sharing the use of financial information.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was passed to require notice in writing of the privacy practices of health care facilities and services.  It also applies to electronic records.

Today, there is a very active and popular business niche that exists to protect the privacy of individuals, and protect people from identity thieves.