Why You Need a Privacy Policy for Your Website

The subject of this blog post may not have incited a great amount of interest or excitement in you. After all, who wants to talk about legal stuff? Doesn’t that involve a lot of dull information and confusing jargon?

You may be right about that. However, even though a privacy policy is not the most exciting or glamorous part of a website, it is nevertheless an important one that should not be neglected. Though often ignored, it is one of the most important pieces of text to include on a website. And if you are business owner who has a website in place, you will want to pay attention to why a privacy policy should be included and the reasons behind it.

In this post, I’ll explain what a privacy policy is, why you should have one in place, and how to do that.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and the information that I present here should in no way be confused with or substituted for professional legal advice. If you need professional legal advice around this topic, you should contact a lawyer.

1. What is a privacy policy?

A privacy policy is a statement on your website that explains what kind of information you collect from website visitors and what you or your business does with that information. In other words, it is an agreement that sets the rules for using your website and specifies your responsibilities to your website users. By disclosing your practices when it comes to the collection, use, and handling of the data of your users, you are keeping in step with legal requirements and practicing transparency in your business.

2. Why should you have a privacy policy in place?

The answer is simple: because it is required by law. If you’re collecting any data on your website that can be classified as “personally identifiable information,” then you are legally bound to include a privacy policy. This data you collect is legally protected by a number of important laws around the United States and the world, and thus it is your duty to inform visitors of that and let them know what you do with that data.  

This begs the question – what exactly is “personally identifiable information”? It is basically any data, either anonymous or personal, that can be used, either by itself or in connection with another type of data, to identify an individual. This includes everything from email addresses, names, phone numbers, shipping and billing addresses, birthdates, and profile images to info collected by Google Analytics, website cookies, and IP addresses.

Basically, if you have a website, and visitors are able to interact with it, then it is collecting some sort of information from them (even if it is just from Google Analytics or IP addresses). Because of this, every website should have a privacy policy in place.

3. How do you write a privacy policy? 

There are two important principles to keep in mind when it comes to writing a privacy policy.

  • The policy should be written in easy-to-understand language, that the average person can understand. It should clearly declare what information you are gathering, what you will do with the information gathered, how you are gathering that information, and how the information will be stored.
  • The policy should follow the laws of the state or region where you do business or aim your services to and be specifically tailored to your individual business.

With that being said, there are a couple of different options for how to go about writing a privacy policy.

The first option is to engage the help of a lawyer who has professional knowledge of laws related to digital and online media. They will be able to ensure that your privacy policy is stated correctly and that it fits your individual online situation.

The second option is to use a quality, online privacy policy generator that offers custom options for generating your policy and is backed by valid legal expertise. This will craft a policy for you that is legally accurate and adheres to your particular situation. Beware of using just any privacy policy generator, though. Although there are many free ones online that allow you to build a privacy policy yourself from a template, it’s not a wise idea as there is no real guarantee that you’re meeting legal requirements or that the information is stated correctly. It is also not advisable to write your own privacy policy yourself, for the same reason. Having an incorrect privacy policy could get you into more trouble than not having a privacy policy at all, and so it is worth the time, effort, and cost investment to have one professionally developed.

In conclusion, here are some additional, important points about a privacy policy and how it should be implemented.

  • Getting your privacy policy written and in place is only one step of the process. Following through on your commitment is the second step. You and any employees that you have should have a clear and thorough understanding of your company’s privacy policy and should be adhering to the statements contained therein.  
  • You should regularly review and update your privacy policy as needed.
  • It is important that you clearly integrate your privacy policy into your website. In most cases, this involves creating a simple page for it and including an obvious link or button for it on the footer of your website or another prominent place. Make sure that it is accessible from every page of your website.

Hopefully after reading this article, you understand that including a privacy policy is a non-negotiable part of your website’s framework. The last thing you want to do is to incur hefty fines or end up in legal trouble for not having one on your website. Thankfully, it is fairly simple to implement. By doing so, you will not only protect yourself as a business, but build credibility and trust with your customers.

Do you need to get a privacy policy page in place for your website? If so, let us help! Contact us today.

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