Pinterest’s Privacy Policy

If you’re a Pinterest user, you may have recently received an email like this one, by which Pinterest is updating its users about Pinterest’s privacy policy.

privacy policy update

Why is Pinterest doing this? Well, there could be a number of reasons why. I don’t know. I don’t represent them, and I haven’t discussed it with them. I’m just speculating based on my understanding of consumer privacy issues.

First, many companies feel the need to promise their customers that they will keep their customers’ personal information private. Thus, in order to attract more users, they will present their users with a public “privacy notice” which states a policy. In other words, just like a coffee company might sell biodynamic, fair trade coffee beans, so too do some companies feel the need to be what they consider a “good corporate citizen” and be open and honest about what information they are collecting and how it’s being used.

The second reason is that some states require that companies issue a privacy policy. One of these states is California, and the Attorney General of the State of California recently released recommendations for developing a privacy policy. You should consult with your attorney and check your state’s laws.

The third reason is that privacy has become an issue for the Federal Trade Commission‘s Bureau of Consumer Protection. You see, over the past several years (and, in particular, because of the Internet), issues regarding privacy of consumer information have become a source of concern and controversy. So, the FTC has stepped in, and is slowly beginning to play a larger role in punishing poor corporate behavior regarding privacy issues.

When you think of “deceptive trade practices” you may recall “snake oil” or “patent medicine” – products which are advertised to have qualities which they do not have. That is a more traditional view of what a “deceptive trade practice” is. However, the FTC is increasingly taking the position that being dishonest about disclosure of private personal information is also a “deceptive trade practice.” So, many companies have responded to this by creating and publishing privacy policies.

In my view, the FTC is concerned with two types of practices: (a) disclosing personal information without letting consumers know about it; and (b) promising not to disclose personal information in a public privacy policy, but doing so anyway. So, it is important to consider privacy issues, to consult with your attorney in drafting a privacy policy, and to follow through with the promises made in that privacy policy.

If you are interested in learning more, you can read the FTC’s report on protecting consumer privacy, released in 2012; and, you can visit the FTC’s Privacy and Security Business Center Website.

And that’s FTC not XTC.

I am a former software engineer turned lawyer, practicing patent, trademark, copyright, and technology law in New Orleans, Louisiana with Carver Darden. You can read more about me, or find out how to contact me. You can also follow me (@NolaPatent) on Twitter, Google Plus, or Linked In. All content on this website is subject to disclaimer.

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