Let’s start off with the cookies—a silly name for short text files—that we store on your computer, tablet or phone (from now on I will just write “your device”) when you visit us.
What? You store stuff on my device?
Yup, and pretty much every site you visit does the same.
What We Do
So here’s what we do with cookies at AAC:
- Monitor traffic to our site to determine what readers are interested in.
- Track user clicks on one of our links to buy our Guide.
- Track user shares of our site on social media.
What We Don’t Do
More importantly, here’s what we don’t do:
- We don’t track you personally in any way.
- We don’t show you anything on our site driven by what you have already looked at—everyone sees the same stuff.
- We don’t use the cookie code to read anything off your device. In fact, as far as I know, that’s not even technically possible.
- We don’t share what you do at this site with any other company or individual.
Not Tracking You Personally
Let’s expand a bit on all of that.
Google identifies each of you with a number any time you visit any site that runs Analytics, and that’s the vast majority of the internet.
So we can see the following about a visitor:
- How they found our site: search, referral (link), etc.
- The pages they visited.
- The course they followed to a place to buy our Guide (we hope).
All of this information is anonymous: We know what visitor number say 12530269484.15884993018 did on our site, but we don’t know their name or anything personal about them.
We have also instructed Google to delete even that information 14 months after the user’s last visit—the shortest retention time they offer.
No Third Party Personal Tracking
Back to what we don’t do at AAC…and this is a big one.
We won’t ever knowingly install any code that will let others track you. Sorry about the “knowingly” qualification, but another thing I have learned is that bad actors are constantly figuring out new ways to get little sites like us to co-operate, often unknowingly, in their world domination plans, so while we can promise to be diligent in our efforts to thwart that, we can’t guarantee they will never fool us.
For example, I’m pretty sure, based on their latest user agreements, that Google does not cross-reference your personal identity with activity at sites like ours that don’t share that, but they probably could if they wanted to, at least if you have a Google account, and we might never know.
Opting Out of Cookies
If you decide that you don’t want our cookies, there are several ways to do that.
Total Opt Out
You can simply tell pretty much any modern browser not to allow cookies, from all sites, or just this site. Here’s how to do that.
Opting Out of Google Analytics Tracking
Or if you decide you don’t want us to (anonymously) track you, which helps us figure out how to make the site better and keep it financially viable, you can do that here.
Well, now you know everything about what we intentionally do with cookies. Once again, sorry for the “intentional” qualification. As above, we just can’t guarantee that some company won’t figure a way to smuggle tracking code onto AAC.
That said, we do promise to be diligent about checking for and removing anything that tracks you, other than the stuff we have disclosed above. We are getting pretty good at sniffing out bad stuff and we have hired some really smart people to help us.
The information from here down only applies if you have signed up for our new edition notifications. If that’s not the case, you can stop reading now.
What We Store
- Your email address.
- Your name.
- A record of which emails from us you have opened and what links in those emails you have clicked on.
- Where you physically were when you subscribed.
What We Do With Your Information
- Send you notifications when we publish a new edition or come up with a new way to read our Guide.
- We run reports to measure what emails are most popular.
What We Don’t Do With Your Information
- We don’t share your information with anyone else.
- We don’t, and won’t, hound you to buy stuff from us or anybody else.
Where We Store Your Information
- At Mailchimp, our email provider. If you have no life you can read their privacy statement here.
- We store backups that contain some or all of your information at Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud.
- Some of your information is on our business computers and backups here at AAC World Headquarters…OK, our cabin in the woods.
- On our web server.
Keeping Your Information Safe
You will note in the above that the places we store your information are generally considered best in class, and we use two factor authentication (2FA) to access those services—what a pain in the ass that is!
Realistically, the biggest risk to your information getting out is probably some bad actor hacking into our site, since it’s the only place of storage that is directly internet facing.
However, we go to a lot of trouble to keep your information safe:
- We use a private server, meaning our web sites are on a separate computer from any other company’s, which significantly improves security over the shared servers that most small web sites use.
- We have installed the paid version of WordFence, best in class security software, on all of our web sites. Not only does Wordfence harden our site against hackers, and add 2FA for all administrators (Phyllis and me only), it also scans our sites several times a day to look for any hacks.
- We have set up a special separate testing server for any support technicians that need access to our software, that has no subscriber information on it.
- We update our site as quickly as practical—gotta test this stuff first—to make sure we have all the latest security patches.
And we are careful with our own computers too:
- Our desktop computers and backups are encrypted and strong password protected.
- Our office may be a cabin in the woods, but it does have an externally monitored alarm system.
Before we move on, a key point in all of this: there’s nothing on our site, computers, or backups that’s probably not already out there in the wild. (If you think your email address is not already compromised, you are either the most security savvy user on the internet…or abusing some serious controlled substances.)
Your Right To Correct Your Information
If you need to correct the information we store about you, you can by clicking a link at the bottom of any, and every, email you receive from us.
Your Right To Access Your Information Stored With Us
You can also see exactly what we have on file by clicking the same link.
Your Right to Be Forgotten
You can unsubscribe from our emails at any time by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link on any and every email we send you.
However, when you do that Mailchimp keeps your email address on file. Nothing sinister here. The reason is this makes sure that we can’t, inadvertently, re-subscribe you.
And, at the time of writing, I can’t find any way for you to delete all of your information from Mailchimp.
That said, if you really want that done, send us an email with “forget me” in the subject line and we will lean on Mailchimp to get that done and also delete your information from our web server.
Note that some of your information may remain in our backups for up to two years until said backups are cycled out. And, no, we can’t individually remove you from said backups, simply not practical.
All that said, Phyllis and I are human and therefore fallible. And given all the different places a snippet of your information could be hiding, I can’t totally guarantee that we will get everything deleted, but we will be diligent and make our best effort.
We Don’t Share
The good news is that we have never, in all our years of doing this, knowingly shared your information with any third party, unlike many web sites, mentioning no names…oh heck, that’s boring…yeah, I’m looking at you Zuck.
Oh, yeah, one more thing: