Digital Parenting
June 9, 2021

Privacy Policies Can Either Protect or Expose You. Here's What to Look For.

What exactly is a privacy policy and why is it important? We put together a guide to help you know what to look for when you're personal information is at stake.

Privacy policies are commonplace in our lives. They outline how apps, websites and services can collect, use and store our personal information—and according to PEW Research Centre, only about 9% of Americans always read them before they agree. While many of us don’t spend too much time thinking about privacy policies, they are important for us to understand.

A big reason why lots of us don’t read through privacy policies? Many are written in legalese, which is difficult to grasp without a law degree. And unfortunately, lots of companies are intentionally cryptic about the information they collect and what they do with it—so they hope that you don’t take the time to truly understand what’s up.

At Kinzoo, we’re building a product for kids and families, so we’re passionate about privacy. We believe that everyone has the right to protect their personal information and understand how a company is collecting and using it. We created this guide to help make it easier to navigate any privacy policies you encounter in your travels on the internet. So, what exactly does a privacy policy cover?

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What information is collected?

A privacy policy should outline what kind of information is collected—about you personally and the devices you use. A thorough policy will also outline why it’s necessary for the company to collect that information, and explain how it’s relevant to their business.

Many websites, apps and platforms need to collect various information in order for them to work and provide a service. Data collection in and of itself isn’t necessarily a problem, but unfortunately, some companies collect as much data as possible—not just for their service to function, but so they can use it to turn a profit. At Kinzoo, we challenged ourselves to do the opposite. We only collect what is truly critical for our app to work—and we stopped collecting anything we didn’t need.

How is the information used?

This part of a privacy policy will tell you how your information is used. Things like making the app work, analyzing its performance and improving the service are all normal to see in a privacy policy. Companies may also use your information to communicate with you, facilitate contests, provide customer service and let you know about updates and changes.

Sometimes, there will be uses outlined in a privacy policy that you can opt-out of. At Kinzoo, we give our users the ability to opt into promotional emails about offers and events—and if they opt-out, we only send emails about important updates to our product or policies.

How will your information be shared?

This is a pretty crucial part in a privacy policy because it outlines how a company can share the personal data they collect from you. Who can they disclose your information to—and for what purpose? Some companies will work with external partners or contractors—like marketing agencies or strategy consultants—and their privacy policies will give them the ability to share some information with those groups. And, there are other common scenarios where companies will disclose information, like if law enforcement requests it, or if one company is being acquired by another one.

Some companies will also share your info or sell it to third parties for advertising purposes. Bear in mind that your data is like currency—and a lot of tech companies’ business models rely on trading your personal information for profit. At Kinzoo, we’re pursuing an innovative business model that does not rely on your data to make money. We don’t use your information to show you targeted ads and we will never sell it to data brokers. We respect your right to privacy and we believe that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice it when you use a tech platform.

Where is your information stored, and for how long?

When a company collects your information, they need to store it somewhere—and where it’s physically stored can have implications. That’s because each country will have different legislation around privacy rules. Most privacy policies should also indicate how long the company intends to retain your data.

A privacy policy should also tell you what kinds of security measures are in place for your data. At Kinzoo, we have high standards for information security—and any partners we work with must have the same. We store information in Canada and the United States, but all our standards comply with GDPR—which outlines some of the most stringent requirements in the world.

How can you access your information and what rights do you have?

Many governments have legislation in place that gives you rights around your personal information. A privacy policy should outline how you can access your info and under what circumstances. Basically, this should tell you what rights you retain over your personal information, how you can update or correct it and whether there is any cost involved if you make a request for access.

Under GDPR, the European Union has some of the broadest privacy protections for individuals anywhere in the world, including the right to be forgotten. This means that you can ask a company to erase your personal data under certain circumstances. Because Kinzoo is GDPR compliant, every user (even those outside the European Union) has the right to erasure in certain cases.

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Who can I contact if I have privacy questions?

It’s important to be able to contact a company if you have questions about anything in their privacy policy. Ideally, it should be easy to find a Privacy Officer—your first point of contact if you have questions or concerns. Keep your eyes peeled for a dedicated email address or phone number so you know how to reach out if you need to.

Why privacy matters

We know that privacy policies are not exactly the most exciting things to read. They’re often long and difficult to understand—and too often, that’s because companies don’t really want you to know exactly what they’re collecting and how they’re using it. At Kinzoo, we’re committed to doing better. We’re parents first and a business second, and our privacy policy reflects that. It’s designed to protect your rights, respect your privacy and spell it out for you in plain language as much as possible. And, if you have any questions about anything you find, our founder is just a phone call or email away.

If you’re looking for a messenger that puts your privacy first, download Kinzoo today!

Image credit: Jevanto Productions / Shutterstock.com

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