Logos, Links, and Lending: Towards Standardized Privacy and Use Policies for Banking Web Sites

Walter A. Effross, American University Washington College of Law


As customers go on-line rather than stand in line, financial institutions have been quick to accommodate this new form of interaction by constructing banking Web sites. However, federal regulators are increasingly concerned that the operators of these sites make appropriate disclosures to consumers and implement privacy policies for information collected through such sites. This article discusses the latest efforts by regulators and recommends that banks make the text of required disclosures displayed on their Web pages into hyperlinks to the home pages of the appropriate regulatory agencies. In addition, the article proposes the creation of industry-wide icons (such as the scales of justice for the "legal terms and conditions" of use of the site, and a padlock for the site's "privacy policy") that banks could display on their home pages to indicate their adherence to a standardized set of provisions. Appendices to the article set out a "Proposed Uniform 'Terms and Conditions' Statement" (governing such issues as liability limitations, security, confidentiality, and intellectual property rights) and a "Proposed Uniform Privacy Policy" (defining, and discussing the bank's treatment of, information collected "passively" versus that collected "actively," indicating the bank's restrictions on employee access to information, and expressing the institution's commitment to the maintenance of accurate information).