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California AG Offers Guidelines on Privacy and More

28 May, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Kamala Harris has issued guidelines that advise companies to make their privacy policies jargon free and to offer mobile-friendly formats.

The 28-page document, “Making Your Privacy Practices Public,” is geared to help companies comply with California's new do-not-track law (AB370) which requires Web companies to state how they respond to do-not-track requests.

The law also requires all website operators to state in their privacy policies whether they allow third parties to collect tracking data – or information about users' “online activities over time and across different websites.”

The report says that one key question that website operators should consider is whether they treat visitors who send a do-not-track signal differently than people who don't. Harris suggests that website operators who ignore do-not-track signals should describe how they use the “personally identifiable information” they collect.

Site operators who don't want to address do-not-track in their privacy policies can instead comply by offering a “clear and conspicuous” link to a program that gives consumers a choice about online tracking. But the new guidelines say it's “preferable” for website operators to describe how they handle do-not-track requests, because doing so “provides greater transparency to consumers."

Jason Kint, incoming CEO of the Online Publishers Association (OPA), calls the Attorney General's guidelines “a nice start towards more transparency.” He adds that the OPA welcomes “anything that simplifies privacy policies and builds trust in the digital ecosystem.”

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