For Your Customers` Sake, Be an Ethical Web Host - Security, Privacy, and Trust
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These three issues are interrelated, and shift in meaning. As a starting point, they mean that you do what you say you're going to do. Deliver on your promises; if it is avoidable, don't let timetables slip. Have an easy-to-understand Terms of Service; yes, your customers will read it, and they will certainly expect you to stick by it. In fact, they'll depend on it. In particular, if you have a signed contract with a customer in which you have made certain promises about how their data will be handled, stick to it.
Recently I read about one case in which a web host had a contract with several of its customers concerning back up tapes. According to the terms of the contract, the tapes were supposed to be rotated and taken out of the server room, off-site, so that, in case there was some kind of disaster at the web host's site, the customer's data would be safe. In fact, a consultant discovered that the web host regularly left the tapes in the server room, in the drives; the ones he saw were at least two days old. Worse, the tapes were located directly below a fire sprinkler. The web host's customers in question were not-for-profits, and, if the web host suffered a bad enough disaster, could easily go out of business from this level of carelessness.
Privacy is another issue that concerns many customers. Some web host customers have databases containing private information from thousands of individuals; computer dating sites are one example of these, but there are others. Other customers have created custom scripts that they believe may be worth large sums of money, and worry about a web host snooping around and selling it to someone else. Customers need to know that their web host is not going to take advantage of their access to their customers' websites and information.
One thread on a web hosting forum raised these issues. While a number of the replies bemoaned the uncertainty of web hosts playing by ethical rules, one person raised the specter of the law: "Legally speaking, your web host should not pry into the data of your sites unless there is a court order or something to that nature. Your script belongs to you and your data belongs to you too."
In short, treat your customers as you would wish to be treated yourself. Even in the world of web hosting, the Golden Rule holds true.
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