Is it time to add this to your privacy policy?

What with the recent AOL gaffe, where they distributed a huge data warehouse full of search data without proper anonymization, I’ve been wondering if it’s time for a few of our clients to add a clause to their privacy policy.

The clause would have to do with use of internal search data. After all, I’ve written here about the utility of mining this type of search data. These data are important markers to user behavior, and should not be ignored.

So, since consumers are realizing their search behavior is attracting attention, how about a privacy clause such as, “The owners of this site will not release user internal search data, nor will they allow it to be used to make observations about individual users. Instead, the owners pledge to use the information only in aggregate, to improve the experience of exploring this site.”

I know from looking at our clients’ web logs that privacy policies are being read over, or at least given a quick review. Therefore, this addition could help clients’ online images in the eyes of these readers, and also encourage these readers to go ahead and search within the site with confidence.

Big Brother may be watching, but he’s benevolent.