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My website is a few months from going live, and marketing efforts are beginning. I would like to put up a short coming soon page with an email field to sign up for updates. Does this require an SSL certificate? Is there a rule of thumb you use to determine when to use an SSL certificate and when not to?

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Do you need it? No, not realistically. Will it make some people feel comfortable enough to submit their information that would not do so otherwise? Yes. Even if it's a small number that will care, it's worth addressing them given how easy it is to address. –  Doug Mar 12 '12 at 13:21
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The rule of them is if you are sending or receiving sensitive information you should be using encryption. What is considered sensitive is subjective but anything considered private or personal can be considered sensitive (e.g. passwords, credit card information, social security numbers in the US). Email addresses are not generally considered private or personal so in your case an SSL certificate wouldn't be necessary.

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I agree with @John, as long as your site is COPA compliant-- if applicable.

Email addresses, according to COPA, would be considered sensitive information as it could be used to contact a child online. Similar rules may apply to HIPAA or other international regulations (I really do not know). Food for thought though.

http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus45-how-comply-childrens-online-privacy-protection-rule

Hope this helps!

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