There is no such thing as a perfect system of preserving privacy. Everything has its loopholes. Therefore, we start with an assumption: a truly lucky, truly dedicated person can find some way to get through any security system. Our job: do everything reasonable and practical to prevent this from happening, while not participating in this kind of practice in any way.
So, what are we doing about all this?
- All personal information you send to us is never distributed, unless we have your consent and the situation requires that distribution of information. We will never sell any of your personal information for any reason.
- We don't keep mailing lists. We never have. It's a standing policy. There is no Mike's Comics mailing list for someone to access. It doesn't exist! For the same reasons, you won't see mass mailings to our customers, mail or e-mail newsletters, and so on. Other companies have had such lists copied, hacked, contaminated, and abused, and that doesn't happen here. We deal with our customers as individuals.
- We don't force you to send your sensitive information by e-mail, and our credit card ordering system lets us take an order without using computers, either by phone or regular mail. For those who had their credit card information abused when TJX Corp (TJ Maxx, Bob's Stores, &c.) was hacked, or with a cluster of problems with compromised information with Forbidden Planet International in 2009, you'll understand why this can be an advantage for you.
- We don't have a shopping cart. We know, you're already asking what this has to do with anything. Well, it's an automated system on a computer. We haven't found any that we beleive are sufficiently secure, or can be kept sufficiently accurate for our diverse inventory, to think we should use this yet. Again, many companies you hear are hacked have "secure" servers. What good does that do you if your information is stolen? And that happens far too often these days. Maybe the order system is on a secure server, but where does that information go from there?
- We do have firewalls, virus detectors, and spyware scanners on our computers. Whatever information we do receive is intended to stay here and go nowhere else.
- We do have other, less obvious measures in place, and some technical sophistication to implement those measures. Yes, the site doesn't exactly look as modern as it might. It's mainly a list, not a program, and it serves its purpose. When there's more time, we'll continue developing, and maybe redesigning the site. But, by keeping some things simple, we're more secure because of the places where there just isn't anything to steal.
- We do keep business records. We do have a record of your transaction. It's off-line.
- We do keep adult verification statements when needed. For all practical purposes, you should assume we keep that information forever, on paper, secure.
- We do report attempts to harm our site, including our e-mail account. A collection gathering agency, that happens to partner with another major web site you would have heard of, correctly stopped a particular activity just before we would have gone to court. As a result, we no longer deal with their partner, who supplied the information.
- We do not install programs that will collect information, especially since most are reporting it somewhere. A program like RealPlayer may well have this functionality. It's not on our computers.
- We do encourage customers to become informed about what happens on other sites to their information. For example, the eBay web site collects information from cookies, as well as surveys, and so on. As far as we can understand, much of that information was sent to a company called Akamai, and may still go there. We don't know how much information is accessed this way. But, we gave up eBay selling and protested the practice after it was discovered. Your privacy is too important.
- We do report spam, and we have filed complaints and pursued spammers for damages. Since some of this activity is actually supported by certain governments around the world, it's not so harmless as deleting messages. We encourage you, at least, to copy spam complete with headers and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Help our government collect this information and pursue the offenders.
- We are sensitive to the portability of information stored in computers.
- We have someone on staff with professional computer and telephone networks experience. No, not something we're now practicing professionally, but enough to understand and anticipate many concerns.
- We don't rush to add all the technological bells and whistles out there, even if "everyone else" has them. Sometimes, we move slowly because we're not sure something is safe or right for us. Or, more importantly, for you.
- We do answer questions about security, and any other issue you may have. And, very often, we actually can answer some questions requiring a little degree of technical sophistication. We'll also try in many cases to find answers we don't have. Privacy isn't just about security, but about your comfort dealing with us. We feel we're more secure than most others because of what we don't do, and while that may seem inconvenient sometimes, it's less of a problem than identity theft, credit card fraud, or other crime and victimizations we try to prevent for all of us.
Again, the reality is nothing is perfectly secure. Someone can eavesdrop on a phone conversation, or, for that matter, tap a phone line. Computers can be hacked if you know how. ISPs often hold copies of all e-mail, somewhere, sometimes forever, and that archive can be found and used. Paper documents can be found and stolen. Even encrypted data can be decoded with the encryption key. A permanently perfect system to secure information does not exist. Even destroying data presumes a copy has never been made, and that's always only an assumption. Still, since we started in business in 1976, we have not ever abused your custom by abusing the trust you place in us with an order. Since our reputation depends on this, we never will.
We will take all reasonable and prudent measures to the best of our understanding to protect the information you give to us.
Thanks for visiting the site!
Michael Salvo & Patty Cryan