WEEK 13: Privacy Policy Assignment

I reviewed the Privacy Policy for Groupon, which is a service that provides coupons to users based on their area and interests. Groupon has attained the TRUSTe seal of approval, which means Groupon’s privacy policy has been reviewed by an independent third party internet privacy services provider.

Overall, Groupon’s Privacy Policy is straightforward and easy to read. However, certain points of the policy could use clarification. Here are specific areas in which Groupon could tighten its Privacy Policy and increase user confidence:

  • Changes to privacy policy. Groupon notes that if it changes its privacy policy, it will notify users on the privacy policy page, on the Groupon home page or by email. Any changes to the Groupon privacy policy should be communicated to users with all three methods. Users may access the site via mobile application, thereby bypassing the Groupon home page. Users who reads the Groupon privacy policy once, should be notified via email to review the policy, if changes are made.
  • Types of Information Collected and Uses of Collected Information. Tell-a-Friend. Groupon notes that if a user tells a friend about the Site, Groupon will send that person an email and may store the person’s name and email address on the its server. The friend’s name and email should not be stored on Groupon’s database, as it was not provided by that individual. Information should not be stored unless or until that referred individual uses a Groupon service.
  • Release of Personally Identifiable Informtion. We may share your information with Groupon Merchants. Groupon notes it shares Personally Identifying Information (PII) with Groupon merchants, enabling Groupon customers to redeem their purchases. Groupon specifies it is not responsible for what Groupon merchants do with that PII or for how they might contact customers. A stronger policy would include Groupon requiring its merchants to abide by defined terms and conditions, which include not selling PII to other third parties and restrictions for the use of such consumer information.
  • Security Information. Groupon notes that only select personnel and contractors have access to PII and that it encrypts certain sensitive information. The wording is deliberately nebulous. A stronger security statement would include:
  • Which personnel have access to PII
  • How information is encrypted and
  • Which information is encrypted
  • Data Tracking, Cookies. Groupon notes it may use third party advertising companies which may place cookies on your computer. Groupon distances itself from third party tactics. A more consumer-focused policy would notify users be when third party advertisers place cookies on their computers. Groupon does note that users can disallow cookies, however this keeps parts of the Groupon site from working. Customers should know when a third party is placing a cookie on their computer, so they can have the option of disallowing that third party advertiser cookie.
  • Children. Groupon states it does not knowingly collect information on anyone under the age of 18 or market products to people under 18. However, many of Groupon’s merchant specials may be appealing to users under 18, including today’s deal for the 27707 zip code, auto detailing at Majestic Car Care. Considering there will be instances when people under 18 purchase products at Groupon, the Site should address specifically how it will purge information on those users who are under the age of 18.

Note:   Groupon complies with California’s Online Privacy Protection Act. This law details what types of Personally Identifiable Information are collected by a site, which third parties this information is provided to and how California residents can determine which parties receive this information.

Through compliance with this law, there is precedence for Groupon to provide more information to its users on the information it collects on them and who it gives PII. To foster user confidence and transparency, Groupon should not provide users with varying levels of privacy and security screening. All site users should be subject to the highest level of privacy policy provided to any of Groupon’s consumers.

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About susanrene

sister, friend, lover, learner
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