Startup Privacy The Entrepreneur's Guide To Privacy

Trust and privacy are powerfully connected

As an entrepreneur you understand privacy rights are a growing concern, but tackling privacy obligations seems like an overwhelming task. It shouldn't—it's actually quite simple:

  • Tell users what you're doing with their data
  • Get users' permission
  • Give users control of their data
  • Protect users' personal data
  • Do as your policies say

Easy enough, right? But wait, there's more! Within the obligation to comply with privacy regulations lies the amazing opportunity to win users' trust.

This is why I wrote Startup Privacy. This e-book guides you towards both a reason and a method to tackle privacy issues. With the right approach you not only comply with regulations, but you earn a loyal following.

NOTE: This ebook is no longer available. I'm please to announce that I'm currently under contract with O'Reilly Media to publish this work. Stay tuned!

Be privacy-sensitive, be successful

Review current privacy laws and regulations

Understand the psychology behind our desire for privacy

Apply privacy best practices

Prepare a privacy policy and a data breach response

Understand of the basics of securing personal information

Download a FREE preview of Startup Privacy now.

Avoid dangerous pitfalls

Apple, accused of letting applications on the iPhone and iPad transmit personal information to advertisers without consent, faces two separate lawsuits.

- December 2010

W3 Innovations, a developer of mobile applications pays $50,000 to settle charges that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

- August 2011


Google agrees to undergo 20 years of independent privacy audits in connection with charges that it violated promises to customers.

- March 2011

Carrier IQ is sued for privacy violations and faced Federal Trade Commission probe.

- December 2011


Facebook settles charges that it deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.

- November 2011

Path garners a significant amount of negative attention when caught collecting user contact lists without permission in violation of Apple's app guidelines.

- February 2012

Your customers are worried

People are reacting to a fear that they are losing control over their data and governments around the world aren’t sitting still. The European Union, United States, Mexico, Korea, Argentina, Canada and more than 50 other countries have all proposed or enacted restrictions on what companies can do with personal data.

The issue of privacy rights is not going away, in fact it is only getting more complex and more restrictive. If you plan on doing business directly with the general public, then you owe it to yourself, your investors and your customers to get a handle on the issues.

Privacy as a business advantage

You're building a company. Before you reach 10k users, or 1k users or even capture that first user, make sure you know how to handle personal information. Get privacy right, right from the beginning and it will:

Reward you with users who trust you

Lower your risk of lawsuits and fines

Help you win favorable press

Allow you to focus on growing your startup

Provide a major competitive advantage

Users want full transparency

To fight against a lack of trust, companies need to become more transparent. Human nature is such that people believe that when all of the facts are out in the open then people are more honest than when they deal in private.

The problem with transparency is that it fights an uphill battle against the public's generally short attention span and the inherent complexity required to properly describe everything an organization does with personal information. It is not a simple thing to educate the consumer in plain language.

Written by a privacy expert

Jeff Northrop, CISSP, CIPP/US, CIPP/IT is a software developer and privacy professional with a career spaning more than two decades. He is currently the IT Director at the International Association of Privacy Professionals—a non-profit organization dedicated to helping define and support the privacy profession.

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Creative Commons 2.0 licensed cover image by NeilsPhotography
© Jeff Northrop 2012