Terms of Service
If you've ever looked at the small links hidden in the footers of most sites, you'll discover that by browsing the site you've claimed to have read and consented to a lengthy "Terms of Service" or "Terms and Conditions":
Here's a sample from Shopify's legalese generator:
Please read these Terms of Service carefully before accessing or using our website. By accessing or using any part of the site, you agree to be bound by these Terms of Service. If you do not agree to all the terms and conditions of this agreement, then you may not access the website or use any services. If these Terms of Service are considered an offer, acceptance is expressly limited to these Terms of Service.
A lot of the stuff that their document goes on to protect the website operator from doesn't really apply here (e.g. mis-printed prices, user generated content).
But we do take seriously the responsibility to prevent the information here, and in our actual homesharing discussions, from being misleading or somehow bringing you to harm.
This site uses Google Analytics to show us what pages people visit and for how long. This helps us see what people are and aren’t interested in. It also helps evaluate the response to outreach we do.
What we collect and why
The questions we ask in our applications and interviews for the purposes of homesharing are necessarily quite personal. And the answers are necessary for our core matching function, so if you're not comfortable providing them, we most likely won't be able to serve you.
How we secure things externally
We store this information securely in Google Workspace and Monday.com (our online database). Some information may also pass through connected apps, e.g. for document signing.
How we secure things internally
We limit staff and volunteers to the information they need for their tasks. Matchmakers can generally see all personal preferences reported on applications. But only the matchmaker or admin working directly with a participant should have access to personal documents, such as the results of background checks. To help maintain a chain of custody, we try to keep documents online as much as possible.
Requests to delete or provide personal information
We will do our best to honor requests from a participant to delete their information, or to provide an archive of it to them. If your information is connected to another person's (e.g. in a signed homesharing agreement), it may be necessary for us to retain some information about you. It may also be necessary to retain information for our records (e.g. for audits by funders or the IRS).
We have no current plans for retiring data. We will try to consider that goal as the program matures and we form a better understanding of how to do that while preserving our ability to account for our activities. It seems likeliest that information will kept in Monday but access to older things will be restricted, available just for audits and admin analysis.
At the time of this writing our volunteers have not gone through formal background checks. We also have not settled on whether to require 2 factor authentication, given that some of our most experienced and personable volunteers aren't especially technologically savvy. We expect to do some (modestly) large-scale emailing, probably using a standard platform with analytics of things like open rates. (Most of our mass mailings should be one-offs, simply informing lists of people provided by allied organizations about our existence.)
We hope you find that reasonable for a small new organization using standard tools. Please share any feedback, whether of our approach or of how we communicate it. Especially if you decide not to participate in our program because of what you judge to be an inadequacy in our approach to privacy.
July 19, 2021 - we turned on Google Analytics
May 7, 2021 - emphasized that we also use some add-ons and extensions that may see data
May 6, 2021 - added "Terms"
May 1, 2021 - first draft