Definition of Privacy and Code of Conduct

By Leslie Bloom - Updated March 20, 2018

It’s rare to find a company today that does not have a privacy policy and a code of conduct. Privacy and code of conduct policies make expectations for employee behavior clear and provide a standard against which behavior can be measured in the event of a lawsuit or a job action. External privacy policies provide consumers with an assurance about how their data will be used, which is important in gaining their trust and encouraging them to do business with the company.

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The right of privacy is the expectation to be free from intrusion into one’s private life. A code of conduct is used by an organization to establish allowable employee behaviors regarding customers' privacy.

Right of Privacy Definition

The concept of privacy is one that speaks to our individual rights. The definition of the right to privacy is an expectation of freedom from intrusion into one’s private life. It is also defined by the right to be free from publicity about personal matters. As private citizens, we have an expectation that the actions we take and things we discuss are private unless overtly done in a public forum.

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly mention the right to privacy. The right to privacy primarily comes from U.S. Supreme Court case law, which interprets the Constitution as protecting personal freedoms that include the right to privacy. This interpretation provides protection from government interference into private areas of life, such as marriage and birth control.

Privacy is also statutorily mandated by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC enforces laws that protect personal financial information, govern use of personal information by financial institutions and limit access to personal information.

Code of Conduct Definition

A code of conduct is used by an organization to establish allowable employee behaviors. Also called a code of ethics, it can be used to clarify an organization's principles and values, establish standards and encourage effective decision-making. Most companies have a code of conduct that employees must familiarize themselves with and follow. Employees who violate such a code can be penalized or dismissed.

Codes of conduct are tools used in both private and public business. They are not established or suggested in the Constitution, but public companies are mandated to have codes of conduct under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Privacy and Code of Conduct in Business

Policies for privacy and codes of conduct are used throughout the business world. They can help consumers and other companies feel more comfortable working with a business or using its services. Having a privacy policy and code of conduct signal that a business is more reliable, principled and committed to doing business responsibly and ethically.

Many businesses put their privacy policies and codes of conduct on their websites, allowing for full transparency. Doing so may make visitors more comfortable transmitting their private information electronically.

About the Author

Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications, including the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.

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