Instructables

A Perplexing Plurality of Privacy Policies

Near the bottom of many of the pages found on Instructables.com, there is a section labeled "About Us", and underneath that heading there is a list of various links,  titled: "About","Advertise","Press","Contact","Jobs","Legal","Help", and "Privacy Policy"

The problem is this:  The link titled "Privacy Policy", does not always link to the same URL.

On some pages it links here:
http://www.instructables.com/about/privacy.jsp

However on other pages it links here:
http://usa.autodesk.com/privacy/


One of those pages is the simple, honest PP that Instructables has had for as long as I can remember, going back to the distant bygone era of at least 2008, by my recollection at least.

The other page is, what I am guessing is, the privacy policy "inherited" from Autodesk, back in 2011, which was a long time ago, but not that long ago. In contrast to the old Instructables PP, the newer Autodesk PP seems to me to be a little bit more labyrinthine.  You know:  you follow a link, then you follow another link...
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=14175119
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=14175119#9
http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=13252943

and that leads to an op-out form, which contains the plural question:

"Would you like to receive information from Autodesk, our affiliates, or partners including information about new products and special promotions? Via Email?Via Phone? Via Postal Mail?"


And there are three little [Yes][No] radio buttons for those.


For some reason, maybe it's just the voices in my head,  I don't even want to know what happens to anyone who submits that form. I mean its probably mostly harmless.  Probably.   But, still, I don't want to touch it.

Anyway... my point here is that even though no one ever actually reads the privacy polices, it would be nice if all the links that say "Privacy Policy" on Instructables point to the same page.  I think it  would look more consistent and sane that way.

Moreover, it would be extra special nice, if the PP page all Instructables pages link to is the nice, simple one, on the Instructables domain, here:
http://www.instructables.com/about/privacy.jsp

And maybe everyone here could just ignore that other PP on the Autodesk domain.

I mean, that's my suggestion for solving the consistency problem.

In fact there exists a clause in the Instructables PP under "Business Transfers", and the language in that sort of infers  the Autodesk PP may be in effect.  That is, assuming everyone knows about Instructables being owned by Autodesk.

What I'm saying it that you could just leave it up the members who read the Instructables PP, to conclude that the AutoDesk PP may be in effect,  that might be good enough, and interested persons could look into that can of worms, on Autodesk's domain, on their own if they want to.

In conclusion:  Just change all the links titled "Privacy Policy" to point to:
http://www.instructables.com/about/privacy.jsp

and call that good.  Because the alternative, links to plural PPs across different domains, is confusing, and kinda looks inconsistent and bad.

ewilhelm2 years ago
Any links to http://www.instructables.com/about/privacy.jsp are in error. Let me know where you're seeing them, and we'll fix it.
Jack A Lopez (author)  ewilhelm2 years ago
The only page where I have seen "Privacy Policy" linking to http://www.instructables.com/about/privacy.jsp, is the main mother page:

http://www.instructables.com/

Most of the other pages other than that one,  seem to be linking to:
http://usa.autodesk.com/privacy/  

So I am guessing this means the AutoDesk PP is the new PP for Instructables too.  

The dang thing is, I can't recall if I ever actually clicked a button signifying that I had read and agreed to the new PP.  

Some places, when they change some big policy, they sort of roll out some nag pages, to make sure everyone who signed on via the old agreements, has read and clicked-to-agree to the new agreement, or at least clicked through it without reading it,  which seems to signify a kind of agreement too really. 

I mean certain web sites will make a big deal out of policy changes, even going so far as to actually  block old users from logging in, until those users have clicked the new agreement, i.e. making continued use of the site conditional on clicking the new agreement.  It seems like eBay has done that to me least once.

I don't know if you've got anything annoying like that planned. If you do, take as long as you want to roll it out.  Ha!  ;-)

Or if somehow everyone, including old members, already have agreed to the new policy; i.e. I just clicked through it, and forgot I did, then that means if must have been pretty painless.

Anyway, thanks for noticing this bug, and thanks for the post cards too! 

Some people think the name, Jack A Lopez, just has to be some kind of  fake name, or a pen name.  It just has to be, right?  But I can assure you that Jack's mail gets delivered to my house.


I also do not recall agreeing to the "new" privacy policy, and hereby withdraw any and all implied or assumed permissions given regarding my personal details.

If I didn't say yes, then the answer is no.
Same here - except I'll bet you any amount of money you care to wager that the privacy policy and ToS are tied together and that usage of the site is supposed to imply acceptance of both. Until we understand the new privacy policy, the wisest course may be not to use the site.
Jack A Lopez (author)  Lithium Rain2 years ago
From these responses, it's starting to look like nobody explicitly agreed a change in the Instructables Privacy Policy, at least not by the usual method of reading a form and clicking a button to signify agreement to it.

Yet a small number of other people, including Eric Wilhelm, and whoever is doing the actual coding of changing the links to point to AutoDesk's PP, seem to be working under the assumption that there is a new Privacy Policy.

BTW, the reason I decided to actually look into the PP, was because of a question I read on the answers forum, here:
http://www.instructables.com/answers/is-instructables-really-safe-can-i-give-my-address/
and this is really the topic; i.e. What does Instructables.com do with the email addresses and real addresses given to it by its members? Who does it share these with?

The answer seems to be nobody knows. Well, I mean somebody knows, but I don't know if the answer is ever going to be revealed in an understandable way to everybody.

Some of y'all seem to be genuinely shocked by this development,  while I seem to have trouble getting emotional about this, and so far my attitude has been kind of que sera sera (whatever will be, will be).  I'd probably feel (not feel) the same way about an announcement that the site had been "hacked", and everybody's names and were on a file being passed around in the kind of places where such things are passed around.  So I apologize for not getting excited about this.  Maybe I'm part robot?

Although I have to admit, I liked the old Privacy Policy better, and I suppose it is possible, through some sort of collective effort, e.g.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strike_action
to get the management (whoever it is now) to agree to the demands of the members, i.e. the actual creative laborers here.

If you think some sort of general strike is in order, then I would support that, but I definitely do not want to be the leader of such an effort, because honestly I have enough trouble organizing my own life.  Organizing others?  Uh... if anyone else wants to step forward and lead this, please do so.

Regarding Policy (Statement) changes. Remember, everything after the and/or is optional.

If we decide to make changes to our privacy statement on a forward going
basis, we will tell you and other users by placing a notice on www.autodesk.com
and/or by sending you a notice to the e-mail address (if any) we have
on file for you. We may also give you notice through our applications
and on our other websites. You should periodically check www.autodesk.com,
our other websites and this Privacy Statement for updates. Your
continued use of our applications and websites constitutes your
agreement to this privacy statement.

This sort of reminds me of the statement made by the Vogons just before they blew up the Earth to make way for an intergalactic highway bypass in "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy"

Jack A Lopez (author)  ArtisanEclectic1 month ago

Heh, Vogons. For me the policy sort of reminds me of that conversation between Lando Calrissian and Darth Vader, in Cloud City, you remember, the part when Lando says, "This wasn't part of the deal."

And then Darth says, "I'm altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it further." Something like that. I'm not sure if I have remembered the words exactly.

Really the long and short of this story is, well, you know, when you make a deal with Darth Vader, you kind of get a deal that very well may get worse with time, especially if the deal getting worse is good for Darth Vader.

;-)

lizzyastro2 years ago
The old policy said: "Protection of Certain Personally-Identifying Information Instructables discloses potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information only to those of its employees, contractors and affiliated organizations that (i) need to know that information in order to process it on Instructables' behalf or to provide services available at Instructables' websites, and (ii) that have agreed not to disclose it to others. Some of those employees, contractors and affiliated organizations may be located outside of your home country; by using the Instructables website, you consent to the transfer of such information to them. Instructables will not rent or sell potentially personally-identifying and personally-identifying information to anyone for their own direct marketing purposes without your consent. " This is later followed by the bit about buy-outs and no change in the use of PII.

Then the old policy then uses the "get out of jail free clause": "Privacy Policy Changes Instructables may change its Privacy Policy from time to time, and in Instructables' sole discretion. Instructables encourages visitors to frequently check this page for any changes to its Privacy Policy. Your continued use of this site after any change in this Privacy Policy will constitute your acceptance of such change."

i.e. we can change the PP to what the h... we like (and not tell you because we haven't said we will) and as soon as you click onto the site after we have changed it you have ipso facto agreed to it by said clicking onto the site.
 
So, they lull you into a false sense of security with the earlier section, implying that they won't change the personal information policy or the privacy policy and then say, "but we've got you any which way we like, so there!".  In essence they haven't broken their letter of their own rule by applying the Autodesk PP, by they sure have broken the implied spirit of it :-(

Come on Instructables, that isn't playing fair and in my view does not conform to the "Be Nice Policy" that you insist that we the users play by.  In reality how hard would it have been to draw as many peoples' attention as possible to the new PP via the newsletter AND a global PM to all registered users.  At least that way you would have been seen to be trying to be open about the PP U-turn.
Whoahhhhhh.

I must admit I thought Jack was being particularly fussy, I thought. Ibles wouldn't screw us around, but then I actually read the boilerplate.

And I NEVER agree, ever agree to these terms (section begins)
"By submitting your personal information to us, you agree that your personal information may be shared with and transferred to third parties under the following circumstances:"

What the heck's going on ? I never agreed to this. Why weren't we ASKED to accept the new terms ?

The policy Jack's exposed is not what relates to 'ibles "products", because we, the members, GAVE you your product, and we aren't taking a License off YOU to see it.

I'm pretty sure that under common law (the underpinnings of your system and mine) that you can't change the conditions of a contract unilaterally.

You agree that we may use your personal information in the following ways:

[...]

to conduct credit checks

[...]

to support recruitment inquiries.

[...]

Sometimes we combine personal information with non-personal information. Examples include combining your name with your geographic location (Europe) or your e-mail with your industry (media and entertainment).

[...]

We may share your personal information within Autodesk or any of our subsidiary companies worldwide for purposes of data processing or storage and to guide decisions about their products, services, and communications.


WTF, Instructables. No, no I most certainly do not agree to these things.

THIS is what I agreed to (emphasis mine): 

If Instructables, or substantially all of its assets were acquired, or in the unlikely event that Instructables goes out of business or enters bankruptcy, user information would be one of the assets that is transferred or acquired by a third party. You acknowledge that such transfers may occur, and that any acquirer of Instructables may continue to use your personal information as set forth in this policy.

Your former policy said you'd keep the same one even if you transferred. THAT is what I agreed to. Not a new policy saying that Autodesk can conduct a credit check on me, use my personal information to recruit me or someone else (or send my information to one of its subsidiaries in order to recruit me or someone else) purposefully combine my name with my location or my email with my industry, (that is probably what disturbs me the most), and that any company Autodesk owns can use that personal information. 

(Oh, and irony: the very privacy policy which apparently now covers us itself states):

If we decide to make material changes to our Privacy Statement, we will notify you and other users by placing a notice on www.autodesk.com and/or by sending you a notice to the e-mail address (if any) we have on file for you.
 

Good griefEven Facebook, the most vampric privacy violator I know of (Google might be as bad or worse, I dunno) lets folks know when their privacy policy changes.

I know that ya'll give exactly zero ****s about the fact that I as a user of your website am disturbed by a policy of yours, but I will say it anyway: I seriously do not like that the policy was changed and that I as a user was never notified. What else are you guys changing on me without telling me? Do I have to reread the TOS and the licenses on all my ibles? Were those also changed whilst nobody was looking?
Kiteman2 years ago
Perplexing indeed.

I'm inclined to assume that the "correct" policy, though, is the AutoDesk version.

I just wish it was all in one place, and a bit more open and clear.
iceng Kiteman2 years ago
+1
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