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Why Your Website Needs a Privacy Policy

There’s no doubt that ensuring your users’ privacy is more important now than it has ever been before. With companies as large as Facebook coming under intense scrutiny for how they protect their users’ data and new legislation like GDPR, you want to ensure that all your t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted when it comes to your online business’s privacy policy.

What is a Privacy Policy

A privacy policy is a legal document that outlines how a website collects, uses, stores and discloses a site visitor’s data and personal information. Personal information can be classified as anything that is capable of identifying an individual, such as the user’s name, business address, email address, phone number, etc. If you collect payments on your site, it may also include information related to the processing of payment information, such as credit card or bank account information.

In addition to personal information, a privacy policy also covers data that is acquired on how a visitor uses your page, such as, page visits, clickstream, time on each page, and location-based information. This information is typically tracked via cookies and provides valuable analytics for you to determine your site strategy. It may be collected through your content management system, analytics platform, or other third-party hosts, whether you are aware of it or not. The bottom line is that all of this information needs to be disclosed in your website’s privacy policy.

Who Needs a Privacy Policy

Anyone who has a website, blog or mobile app that is viewed by others needs a privacy policy. It is not just a “nice to have” to help gain the trust of your visitors – in some areas of the world, like the United States, it is the law. That last part is key, since you cannot restrict access to your site based on the state or country which a visitor resides.

Additionally, some third-party services that you utilize, such as Google AdSense or Amazon Affiliates require their users to have a privacy policy as part of their own Terms of Use.

How to Get a Privacy Policy

The content of a privacy policy can vary based on the type of business you have. It is important to understand what type of data you are going to collect, store or share and also protect yourself against any data you may unwittingly collect, store or share through other apps or services.

There are many places on the web where you can get the bullet list for what to include in your policy, but I strongly suggest you do not attempt to draft up this important of a legal document yourself, or copy and paste from another site that may not cover all the relevant bases (and could constitute copyright infringement). Do your research and find resources that can provide you with customized templates that are up-to-date with the most recent legislation.

Online privacy is the hot button security concern of the year, and you don’t want to underestimate the importance of this issue. Not having a privacy policy, or the right type of privacy policy, can not only cause apprehension and distrust in your company, but can result in significant legal fees and fines, potentially putting your business out of business.

If you don’t currently have a privacy policy, you need to get one right away. If you do have a privacy policy, make sure your policy is updated to reflect the current and upcoming laws – GDPR being the biggest and most impactful.

As always, the fine print is an inexpensive, simple yet effective way to make sure your business is protected from potential litigation. No business is too new or too small to need a privacy policy. If you have outside traffic, chances are, the law requires it.

Get your GDPR compliant privacy policy template here.

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