API Development 101

A collection of primers on basic concepts related to developing with APIs.

Best practices for collecting information

If you collect, or plan to collect, personal information from your customers, it is important to handle their data responsibly. Personal information includes obvious things like an email address, phone number, device identifier, physical location, and spending habits. But even less obvious information like zip code or typical commute time can be combined to help identify a person without their consent.

  • Collect the minimum amount of personal information necessary to provide the desired functionality. For example, if you only use email to communicate with site visitors, there is no reason to also collect phone numbers.
  • Always use opt-in instead of opt-out. Let customers consent to sharing their data rather than collecting their data by default. For example, include a checkbox asking for permission to collect contact information and leave it unchecked by default.
  • Avoid persistent caching or storage of PII, including in logs. Do not keep the information for longer than you have to. The easiest way to avoid unintentionally exposing sensitive information is to delete it when you no longer need it.
  • Avoid sharing any personally identifiable information (PII) or location information with third parties. When customers give you permission to collect and save their information, there is an expectation that the information will be kept safe and not be shared with others. Sharing their information with a third party without asking for explicit permission violates those expectations. You may be complicit should the third party handle the information irresponsibly.
  • Encrypt customer information in transit. Secure your website traffic with HTTPS and TLS. If you are unfamiliar with HTTPS and TLS, we recommend reading our HTTPS Overview for more information.
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