Think You Don’t Need a Privacy Policy? Think Again.

By now, you may have visited a website and noticed a link or a pop up to the company’s privacy policy.  No matter the size of your business or the type of business, if you collect any personal information or data from your customers, you required by law to have a good privacy policy. 

What is a privacy policy?

A privacy policy informs customers or visitors of your website what type of data you collect from them and what do with the data.  It also includes how the data is collected and how it is securely stored.  Other aspects of a privacy policy are dependent on where the customer or visitor of your website is located, which allows for the laws that govern that individual to apply to your collection of the data.

Why do you need a privacy policy?

Currently, almost anyone who is on the internet needs a privacy policy.  Here are a few reasons why you need one:

  1. The Law Requires a Privacy Policy

Wherever your customers or website visitors are, these days there are laws that govern collection of their private information.  There are numerous US Federal Laws united states, European Union laws for EU residents, and more and more U.S. States are now choosing to regulate the area of their resident’s privacy.

  • The Third-party Services you use require it

Those third-party services you use to enhance your app or website actively require you to have a privacy policy regarding the use of their services.  This is because they too may store information they help you collect. 

  • Your website visitors and customers want it

As more regulations are enacted to protect individuals privacy and in the world of data breaches reported on the news, your individual website visitors and customers want to know when they visit your website their information is safe and not being misused.  When a customer makes a purchase with their credit card they want to know that information is secure.  This builds trust with your customers and website visitors showing them you have procedures in place for handling their personal information. 

How to make sure your privacy policy is effective?

Here are a few ways to make sure your privacy policy protects you and your customers and website visitors.

  1. Readability

Your privacy policy should use plain language and be easy to understand by the average customer or website visitor.  Do not use legalese or technical jargon in your policy as it will make it confusing and unreadable to your customers and website visitors.

  • Add FAQs or Definitions

Consider added a FAQs or definitions section to your privacy policy to clarify any questions your website visitor or customer may have about aspects of your privacy policy.  This can be regarding your tracking software used, your third-party vendors, and the customer’s or website visitor’s rights regarding their private information.

  • Format the Privacy Policy for your Customer or Website Visitor

Use short sentences and bullets or numbered paragraphs along with headings to make it easier to read and understand.  You want your customers and website visitors to read the entire privacy policy.  Have numerous different sections for the different types of information being given in the privacy policy.  Do not use long sentences and large block paragraphs. 

  • Do not Copy and Paste someone else’s Policy

A privacy policy must be tailored to you and your customers or website visitors.  Do not just copy someone else’s policy because it may not include the information that is relevant to what private information you collect, how you collect it, how you use it and how you store it.  These are all items that must be specific to you and how you interact with the data collected. 

  • Comply with your Privacy Policy

Ensure you or any individual you work with is complying with your privacy policy.  Once you put it out there you are bound by it and must only use, disclose, store and secure the private information collected as you provided in the policy. 

  • Check for Updates Regularly

This is a rapidly developing area of law.  More and more states and countries are proposing new regulations and those new regulations may affect your privacy policy.  Check for law updates in the regions you do business and aim your services and update your policy as necessary.  Further, if you change your practices with collection, use, disclosure and storage of the private information collected you are required to update your policy to reflect this. 

Concluding thoughts

Chances are you are required by law to have a privacy policy, if you do not already have one.  If you have a website, customers or employees, you are required to safeguard their personal information.  The laws of the region you do business or aim your services will apply to drafting an appropriate privacy policy.  Non-compliance with the applicable laws will result in serious legal issues and penalties.  Do not underestimate the importance of a privacy policy and how important it is not only to protect your business but also to build credibility and trust with your customers and website visitors. 

Should you have questions regarding privacy policies or other legal needs for your business, or if you would like to schedule a no-charge initial consultation to discuss questions you have about your business, please contact Navigant Law Group, LLC at (847) 253-8822 or contact us online. 

Navigant Law Group, LLC is a law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate and Guardianship. 

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.