How Much Does J.Crew Really Know About You?: The Harsh Reality of a Mega-Retailer’s Privacy Policy

By: Laura Fleming

Introduction: Nowadays, one cannot visit an online shopping website which does not display a privacy policy. A privacy policy is a statement that declares a website’s policy on the collection and release of information about a visitor. Privacy policies usually state what specific information the company collects and whether this information is kept confidential, shared, or sold to third parties. However, very few people actually take the time to read through the privacy policy and consider its implications. While most retailers provide links to its privacy policy, and most companies send an email to subscribers when the company updates the policy, the link is usually in small font at the bottom of the page; thus, many website visitors never even notice that the policy is available for viewing.

Despite the growing number of online retailers, there are very few laws regulating companies’ use of customers’ personal information. Most states, with the exception of California, do not require retailers to provide privacy policies. However, while state law may not require a retailer to post a privacy policy, federal law might. For example, by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), websites that collect personal information from children under the age of thirteen must provide a privacy policy. Nevertheless, this widespread lack of regulation leads to a lack of privacy, which this society values highly.

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