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PayPal Defends Its Privacy Policy

Recent activity by eBay’s global payment processing arm PayPal regarding updates to the company’s privacy policy generated some expressed concerns online. Perceptions and worries about how private people’s online lives truly are have been heightened in recent months, and activities by well-known brands in relation to privacy issues tend to draw strong responses.

One example of this started hitting the EcommerceBytes inboxes on April 1. The concerns raised in this post weren’t any kind of prank though. PayPal, like most websites, collects a lot of data about its customers and acquires it from a variety of places connected to its business. Two days after EcommerceBytes reached out with questions about the policy update, PayPal said it declined to comment.

This type of data collection, or as IBM and others like to call it, Big Data, isn’t new or unique. As the time this article was being written, I received a similar notification of a privacy policy update from my local newspaper. The terms of that policy regarding data collection are pretty much in line with other regularly-visited websites I’ve observed.

That’s something PayPal reiterated in its latest blog post. “We have not changed our privacy policies in any significant way with this latest update,” it wrote. PayPal further stated it does not sell one’s personal information, and that independent studies have recognized PayPal as a trusted brand for privacy for several years.

Of its latest update, PayPal said, “There were no changes made to our global privacy standard or guiding principles.” PayPal and eBay publish those at the eBay Privacy Center.

Concerns about privacy online ebb and flow and have done so for years. AT&T in 2006 received heavy scrutiny for its alleged activities on behalf of the National Security Agency (NSA), resulting in numerous lawsuits many years before anyone had ever heard of Edward Snowden.

Perhaps the most telling remark ever made about online privacy came from then-Sun CEO Scott McNealy way back in 1999, who said “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it,” to a group of reporters.

PayPal also made changes to its user agreement and PayPal Here agreement, seePayPal Alerts Sellers of Policy Updates.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.