Wal-Mart planned to publicize the new policy on Walmart.com and in stores for 30 days before and after the effective date of Aug. 23, says chief privacy officer Zoe Strickland.
The Wal-Mart policy drew mixed reviews from privacy advocates. A spokesman for the Electronic Privacy Information Center expresses concern that Wal-Mart requires consumers to opt out of receiving e-mail and postal mail; he says many consumers don`t know they can do that. While the Electronic Frontier Foundation has not carefully reviewed Wal-Mart`s policy, a spokeswoman says, "It`s a great idea for companies to make it easy to read and understand their terms of service and privacy policies."
As part of the launch of the new policy, Wal-Mart has created a Privacy Preference Center where customers can choose what information they want to receive from Wal-Mart and whether the retailer can share their personal data with other companies. Consumers have to opt in to permit data-sharing, and for receiving information by phone and text message.
Wal-Mart will send other communications, such as e-mail, unless the customer opts out. In the preference center, a customer can opt out of receiving not only promotional e-mails but also of e-mails containing surveys, product reviews and customer ratings. "If you don`t want them, we don`t want to send them to you," Strickland says.