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What do you expect when you do business with an organisation? Are you looking for a fantastic product delivered with outstanding customer service and a high attention to detail or are you just prepared to take anything you can get for the price? Even if you opt for the latter, you may well find your expectations exceeded if the company is straight at the start about its levels of product and delivery. But whether you are looking at the “crème de la crème” or the “old boot” option, one element of service which you may expect is respect for your data and privacy.
Users of Google Gmail may therefore have been a little surprised at a document submitted on behalf of Gmail to a Californian court. In response to the allegation that Google was scanning e-mails sent from non-Google accounts and using the information to target advertising in breach of US law, the submission cites a 1979 US Supreme Court case which concluded that “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”
In fact, the Google standard terms and conditions do cover in detail the ways in which information may be gathered and shared and this includes the way in which data may be collected and used for advertising purposes. So the fact that this case is receiving so much attention may partly be due to the fact that few people bother to read terms and conditions when they sign up to services. Commenting on the case the Chairman of the UK Culture, Media and Sport committee agrees, telling The Independent that when UK internet users sign-up to terms and conditions online they need to better understand how their information might be used adding that terms “need to be clearer and people need to be better informed.”
In fact we are back again to the need to be clear about product and delivery. Meeting the legitimate expectations of your customers is not hard and you don’t need to provide a top level of service, but you do need to be certain that your customers understand at the start what sort of service and product you are offering.