|By: Richard Lowe, Jr.|
Okay, back up a minute. You want to buy a new necklace for your wife at that great dot com you recently found. They require you to fill out a form first - your name, address, phone number and credit card information. They also want your email address, gender and income range.
So you know these people? Think about it for a minute. How many of your friends (even your best ones) have you told your true age or how much money you make. Have you divulged your credit card data to your co-workers at work? Perhaps you give your social security number to the kid at the McDonalds?
I didn't think so. Then why do you insist on giving this data to a faceless computer? You don't have any idea who is on the other side of the screen - yet every day you give away information that you would never dream of telling your parents or best friends.
Before typing in the information look around the site until you find a link named "privacy". Usually it is on the bottom of the home page (at least), and good sites will have a link to it from EVERY page. Click on the link and read the policy from start to finish. Make sure you understand it - if there are any words you do not understand pull out your handy dictionary and check them out. Once you are done, read it again. Slowly.
What's so important about this that it requires all this work? Look, you are giving out personal data about yourself. The web site owners have an obligation to inform you how this data is going to be used.
So now, go finish ordering new jewelry for your wife. That's important