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DoubleClick exec stresses importance of privacy

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Orlando, Fla.--Companies’ Web privacy policies should be regularly reviewed and updated as their business practices change, Bennie Smith, chief privacy officer at DoubleClick, told attendees at the National Center for Database Marketing Winter conference Friday.

Surveys show that most online customers don’t know what to think about privacy policies. “That has created a very huge gap in trust between us--the marketer--and the customer,” Smith said. “The policy must be easy to find, read and understand.”

The policy should be reviewed quarterly, at a minimum, by a team that includes a broad range of employees, not just attorneys, Smith said.

“Indicate how your privacy policy might change and how customers might be notified," he said. "Make sure your privacy policy is dated, so customers know if there is a change.”

Among Smith's other recommendations:

--Safeguard consumer privacy by focusing on data quality. Validate e-mail addresses by asking customers to enter the address twice.

--Ensure that customers’ personally identifiable information is secure when working with third-party vendors, particularly offshore data processing vendors.

--Privacy policies should be worded without legalese or jargon and presented in a visually appealing format. Text should be separated into sections.

--Ensure that your privacy policy covers both your online and offline practices.

--Post contact information for customers who have questions about the policy.

--Christine Blank

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