Summary: bythom.com collects minimal information about you, though most of the partners and services I use on the site collect more. All of the partners and services have published privacy policies.
I currently use external tracking mechanisms such as Google Analytics to better understand whether you're a new or repeat visitor to this site, and which articles you're reading. Thus, if you restrict yourself to just visiting pages on this site, you leave information behind that could be used to track you, though this is minimal. I personally don’t look at that information on an individual basis, only as aggregate data.
If you purchase items through the Amazon or other affiliate links that I've provided (I collect a small extra percentage on such sales, see Support this Site), these organizations use tracking mechanisms, so you need to be aware of them. For example, when you click on an Amazon link on the bythom.com site, an "affiliate ID" that identifies me is passed with you when you are taken to their URLs. If you make a purchase at either site during that session, the affiliate ID is captured with the transaction (so that these two sites can figure out where to send a commission check). Note that the affiliate tracking isn't permanent: if you log off your Internet connection and later log back on and go to Amazon directly, you aren't tracked as a bythom.com referral.
But even that simple act of passing on an affiliate ID has some interesting consequences. Amazon, in particular, has developed technologies that are quite useful, if applied reasonably. From time to time you may see Amazon "recommendations" pop up on this site, and they would be based upon that tracking information.
As an Amazon affiliate, I can pull up lists of what was purchased via bythom.com referrals, though I currently do not do that. I also get reports of the total amount spent via bythom.com referrals (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't know if the commission checks were accurate). Thank you, I truly appreciate your helping me by using the Support this Site links.
This site uses sharing buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.), including ones provided by an aggregating service called AddThis. If you click on one of the sharing buttons, other sites collect information. As with all the services I use, I suggest that you read the privacy policies at the bottom of this page for exact information. Note that AddThis is somewhat unique in that they have an Opt Out ability, too.
If you purchase an eBook or other item directly from this site, the payment processor that is used is PayPal, regardless of whether you have a PayPal account or not (i.e., PayPal is my merchant credit card processor). Like Amazon, PayPal has its own privacy policies. None of your credit card or account information is ever seen by my site or passed through it, let alone retained. Indeed, that's one of the reasons why I use them, as I don't want to have your information sitting around anywhere on my site, even temporarily. All I receive is an email notification when an order has been completed and the payment processed correctly and completely, and that notification only includes what you purchased, how much you paid, what your address is, and perhaps a note if you added one. I also get a Transaction ID# (though it is different from the transaction ID you get) so that I can look up the transaction in PayPal's database, if necessary. At no time do I or my site have any access to your private information during this transaction (you'll note that you're taken to a secure PayPal site during checkout). I realize that my choice of PayPal as my payment processor is problematic for some, especially for some foreign visitors, as the foreign servers for PayPal do sometimes differ in what information they request and how they handle a transaction. The primary reason I originally selected PayPal had to do with privacy, though. Most other merchant processing services require my site to at least temporarily acquire and handle, and in some cases, temporarily store, credit card information. I prefer not to create yet another vulnerability point for private data access, especially since this site is hosted on a shared server.
I maintain a database of all orders made from the bythom.com site. That database contains name, address, email address, item ordered, date sent, tracking number (when used), any note that you added to your order, the PayPal transaction ID, and any notes I add to the database about subsequent correspondence about that order. This database is kept and backed up outside the site server. I have not released any information nor do I have any current intention to release information from this database to other parties. I may choose to use your email address in the future to do marketing of new products to previous byThom customers, but if I do this, I will include an Opt Out option on those emails that you can use to remove yourself from future mailings.
To ship physical products, I use Endicia and the US Postal Service, and the act of generating the postage and label causes them to collect the basic data (your name, address, email, and package tracking info). These databases are maintained by Endicia and the USPS independently. Note that byThom is their customer and thus their privacy policies aren’t specifically directed at you, however both have sections in their policies that speak to this third-party relationship.
Some of you send me direct email and comments on articles. For legal purposes, I archive only some of such email received (and my email provider archives it more permanently). Thus, I may maintain a record of something you've sent me. Again, however, it is not my practice to do anything with such information other than act on it and store it. I don't currently build email address lists and sell them to others (and if I ever do build such lists, I would likely do a courtesy opt-out mailing first). If a response is warranted, I respond to your email and possibly archive your original query. If you've submitted a comment on an article, I may edit it and place it on the site if I think it adds useful information or commentary, and I may archive your original submission (usually I'll respond directly if the comment contained a question). I do not, however, currently identify the originator of such information posted on my sites by anything other than initials. You won’t see your name pop up in a Google search because of something you wrote to me (you can explicitly tell me to do otherwise and I may comply). In short, I'll respond when you ask for response, and I may archive what you've sent me so that my records regarding this site are complete.
I suppose to be complete I should say that this site’s privacy policies are subject to change, as are those of the third-party services it uses. If and when I make intentional changes they would be published here for you to see (this page is date stamped at the bottom with last modification date). All I can say is that I'm an Internet user just like you are, and I prefer sites that have policies that impact privacy concerns as little as possible, and I've tried to model my own behavior accordingly. But business practices and needs, and legal regulations do change from time to time, and I may need to change my policies accordingly. I've always tried to conduct this business as an "open dialog" between myself and my customers, so if you have any concerns or criticisms, please feel free to address them to me so that I can consider them.
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