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'Close my account' - What are webmasters legal/ethical obligations



10:24 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Every so often we get a 'close my account' request. The type of account being like most on the net: free to have, nothing happens unless you use it to purchase something or otherwise do something with it.

Since the majority of these people never respond to our obligatory 'Sorry that you want to close your account can we assist in some way', i'm left wondering why we should even spend a few clicks (time) to 'close' the accounts.

I know for one thing there's no way way we would be required to actually delete their info, a business can do all the basic record keeping it wants.

Seems so basic but in all these years I haven't really been aware of the legalities behind this: are you actually obligated to 'delete' an account? Is the ability or inability to login to a system a legal precedent for privacy anywhere?


10:35 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

well, first of all: because it's service. you don't lose money if you close an account but you may upset somebody if you don't hear their wishes.

as for the legal part: I don't know how that is in your country, but in germany, it's basically the other way round. If you store information on someone, they have the right to, a) see, what information you stored about them and b) have you delete all their personal information. But that's just germany and germany is weird. There was a case a few months back where a local court decided, a website must not save IPs of their visitors without them having agreed...


11:28 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well I am Canadian but have lived in Germany a lot so I can appreciate the 'attention to detail' of the German government. :) I guess i should pose this question in the context of us being a Canadian biz.


11:49 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

If there's no important information there, then just let them delete their own account, provided they are logged in. Not too hard to make a script and a button for it. This would also clean up your database and not have a lot of inactive accounts in there wasting space.

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