4 Signs That a Business’s Privacy Policy Is Suspicious

4 Signs That a Business’s Privacy Policy Is Suspicious

Always read the privacy policy before signing up for a new digital service. However, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees unless you know what you’re searching for. We’ve gotten fairly skilled at finding flaws after years of sifting through these materials. When reading a privacy policy, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Data collection and sales that are shady
The first things to look for are the most straightforward: If a company’s privacy policy specifies that data is shared or sold to third parties, you can be sure that your data isn’t safe. It’s rare that it’s acknowledged so openly, and there are lots of legal reasons to disclose some of your data—for example, sharing your location with their website host—so it’s not a panacea. Consider it as the first rung of a ladder.

The next step is to see what data has been gathered. It’s typically not a problem if it’s simply basic information like your name and email address: This is information that the service need in order to establish an account, and it contains little to no value. However, the more information sites require from you—and the more unusual that data—the more likely you are to be scammed.
A lot of information does not required to be gathered. For instance, here’s your phone number: Apart from professional or governmental services, there’s no purpose for anyone to have this. Another is device-specific information that can be used to trace it. It’s also known as device fingerprinting, and it’s only required for certain types of software. Another important factor is your location, which is required just for map-based apps. There’s also a slew of other examples: For example, most smartphone apps don’t require access to your contact list.
However, the above only applies when businesses are open and honest about their activities.
If they aren’t, there are a few other indicators that something isn’t quite right.

Typographical Errors and Tricky Language
If the privacy policy contains inadequate language, this is one of the most telling signals you should look out for with a service. This includes spelling and grammar problems, as well as language that is purposefully obtuse.
A privacy policy, as a semi-legal document, should be unambiguous. If there are a lot of errors, it suggests that it was put together with minimal care, and you should be concerned. Either the corporation doesn’t care about you or it doesn’t care enough to put together a professional document. In either situation, there’s a risk you’re dealing with a shady operation, and you should avoid it.
There are also the polar opposites, overly complicated privacy regulations brimming with legalese. This type of technique is common in rental agreements, job contracts, and a variety of other everyday legal papers, and it exists solely to confuse you. If a piece of software or a service you’re considering buying tries to confuse you with legalese, they’re definitely trying to take advantage of you. Don’t allow them get away with it.

Corporate Structure Is Suspicious
A strange corporate structure is another thing to keep an eye out for. Although it is common for corporations to own other corporations, which in turn own yet more corporations, much like Russian nesting dolls, there are certain evidence that things have taken a turn for the bizarre.
One example is when one of the companies in these ownership chains is located in a jurisdiction with a high level of secrecy. The Cayman Islands, Seychelles, and Gibraltar are only a few examples. What are you hiding if you need secrecy so much that you’re based there?
Many VPNs, for example, will set up shop in such locations in order to dodge warrants for their customers’ data, but there will also be plenty of enterprises that don’t have the same need for anonymity. When you see exotic locations like this in company material, it should raise your eyebrows.
When data is passed on to other companies under the umbrella, this is a red flag. Avast, for example, sold user data through a company called Jumpshot (It was closed soon after the story broke.). While it is permissible to transmit data to subsidiaries, you should conduct some research on the company in issue to ensure that none of its subsidiaries are involved in the data-selling business.

Security and privacy are often misunderstood.
Another issue we’ve encountered several times is that some businesses would conflate privacy and security: When you look up how the organization handles your data, they’ll use jargon and sophisticated encryption words like AES or Blowfish to overwhelm you. This, on the other hand, has nothing to do with privacy.
In a nutshell, security refers to how well a firm protects your data from outside dangers, whereas privacy refers to how a corporation deals with internal threats or how it treats your data. Even if a service has the strongest, most cutting-edge security available, if it sells your data to marketers, it’s still terrible news for you.
In short, you should focus on how effectively a company treats your data internally, regardless of how well its infrastructure stands up to simulated attacks or how good its encryption is. It’s like a magic trick: always look in the opposite direction of where the illusionist wants you to look.

What Makes a Good Privacy Policy?
The finest example of all, though, would be a privacy policy that we believe is good. We may conceive of two possible possibilities for this: The privacy policy of VPN service Mullvad reads simply and includes a good summary of what it collects and why, while TeamGantt, a project management program that goes a step further and employs tables to demonstrate what is gathered and for what reason, is another contender.
However, your common sense is the most powerful instrument you have at your disposal: Don’t join up for a site that appears like a cowboy outfit and wasn’t recommended to you by someone you trust.


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