Ian's Shoelace Site is not targeting your privacy. That said, your visit to this website – or to any website – can leave “fingerprints”. If you're concerned about privacy – or simply curious – please read on.
Because this website is free, it doesn't require a “login” of any sort. I don't need your name or e-mail address. I don't need your credit card or any form of payment. You can use the full website completely anonymously and with no restrictions.
Storage of Information
Because you haven't given me any login details, there's nothing for me to store. Nothing stored = nothing to steal. No-one – not me, not my staff (I'm a one-man show and don't have any staff), not my web host – not even hackers (correctly termed “crackers”) – can access information that doesn't exist.
• Cookies are useful for websites that people log into. As I said above, this website doesn't require a login.
• Cookies are also also useful for tracking visitors. I'm a one-man show with little time and even less interest in tracking any of the thousands of daily visitors to my website.
The only thing that is within my control is to disable Google's “Interest-based ads”. That way, for example, you won't be shown ads for “backpacks” on this website after having previously searched for backpacks on another website.
Switching off interest-based ads gives you – the visitor – a more private experience even though it results in lower revenue for me due to the resulting less-targeted Google ads.
I don't use any code on this website to track visitor's movements from page to page. I'm perfectly happy with visitors browsing my website randomly and don't have the need, the time or the interest to track their route.
• Tracking code (such as “Google Analytics”) has been added to each and every web page of the vast majority (90%+) of the Internet's top websites. Shopping websites in particular need to be able to track visitors as they work their way through a web store to analyse the success or failure of purchases. My website has no such need.
I don't use web bugs on this website. To me, they're creepier than real-world bugs! Again, I'm a one-man show – I've neither the time nor the interest in tracking individual visitors.
• Web bugs are tiny images hidden on web pages and e-mails. They are usually encoded with a unique filename such that the website can link a specific view to a specific visitor.
This website – like just about every website – is on a web server that maintains a log of each and every file access. I don't use these log files for anything more than their intended purpose – certainly not for identifying or tracking individual users and deciphering their interests. (Read above about me being a one-man show).
• Log files are useful for troubleshooting. For example, seeing failed accesses for non-existent or moved files following changes or due to a script error.
• Log files are useful for security. For example, monitoring attempts at gaining access to commonly exploited files (eg. login credentials). Luckily, my website doesn't have any of the files that those hackers/crackers are looking for.
• Log files are useful for statistics. For example, discovering that my Shoe Lacing Methods section is four times as popular as my Shoelace Knots section. This knowledge helps me to devote more time to what my website's visitors actually want.
• Each entry in a log file includes the address of the item being requested (eg. a file or image on Ian's Shoelace Site) plus the address from which the request was made (eg. your computer/handset's IP address). Such requesting addresses mean nothing to me.
People's e-mails are very important to me. In fact, I've kept every e-mail that I've ever sent or received – both private and professional. It's an amazing archive that currently spans a quarter of a century – way back to 1996!
Rather than entrusting all of this potentially private e-mail correspondence to “the cloud” via third-parties like Google (gmail) or Yahoo! (ymail), it's all kept off-line. Admittedly this limits my ability to read all of my past e-mails from any device anywhere in the world – but it likewise prevents other unauthorized persons from reading them.
In short, if you send me an e-mail, the only person ever likely to read it is me.
That said, any worthwhile feedback that I receive in your e-mails may be added to this website for the benefit of other visitors. Any such feedback will be anonymized by showing only the initial of the surname (eg. “Ian F.”).
I have never maintained a mailing list of website visitors' e-mail addresses, either harvested from their e-mails or gathered via other means.
Only once (back in 2007) did I solicit interested visitors to submit their e-mail adddress in order to be notified when my upcoming book, “Laces”, was available.
I have never bought, sold, given, received, traded or exchanged e-mail addresses to, from or with any third party or parties – except in those rare cases where a visitor has requested that I pass on their address to someone else.
• E-mail addresses can easily be harvested from any e-mail correspondence. I've never done any such harvesting.
• Many websites openly solicit visitors to “sign up” with their e-mail address to receive newsletters, special offers, promotions (eg. my “Laces” book promo) or to participate in games, puzzles, competitions, and so forth.
• Any website that has managed to solicit a visitor's e-mail address could theoretically sell that information to other websites (such as mine) which only have that visitor's IP address to go by. I've never sought such information from others nor offered such information to others.
I'll continue to add to and modify this page as I think of other potential privacy issues.
NOTE: I hope that this page has addressed your privacy questions. If you still have concerns or suggestions, please contact me – I'm interested!
In summary, I'm trying my hardest not to breach anyone's privacy. In fact, the average visitor can learn far more about me from their visit to this website than I could ever possibly learn about them!