What is a privacy policy?

Privacy is a fundamental human right that many governments from all over the world recognize. There are numerous legislations made to support and protect an individual’s right to have their personal data kept a secret if they choose not to divulge their information.

As much as possible, such legislations ensure that one’s data are safe from the unfair collection, distribution, and other types of uses that are done without the knowledge of the individual.

The idea of displaying a privacy policy was required by law to respect and protect privacy even in spaces as risky as online web pages. As a private company, you have the right to protect your legal documents from the eyes of others.

Yet, there’s one legal document that you’re absolutely required to divulge the contents of – the privacy policy. The law strictly regulates the practice of displaying the privacy policy on websites or apps. We’ll talk more about this in a while when we discuss the requirements when displaying your privacy policy.

The definition of a privacy policy is easy to understand. It is a type of agreement required by law for those who use or collect any personal data on websites or mobile applications. It lets website visitors know that their data might be stored and used.

Additionally, it reminds them that remaining on the website means that they are comfortable with the uses of their data. Simply put, it is a document that describes in detail what personal information your website collects from its visitors, along with how you store it and use it.

Of course, this disclaimer shouldn’t be used to justify unscrupulous data collection and use. There are still limits to how you can use the data collected via cookies. To help you understand what we consider as “personal data” here are some of the factors that meet the criteria:

  • The visitor’s IP address
  • Full name, name or surname
  • Email address
  • Birthdate
  • Postal Address
  • Any other information that can be used to identify the individual visiting your website

Why do you need a privacy policy?

What is a privacy policy?

As an online entity, there are heaps of compelling reasons why you need to have a privacy policy. Here are some of the main reasons why you should draft an easy-to-understand and a fair privacy policy for your website visitors:

Displaying a privacy policy is required by law

In many cases, you will be required by law to display your privacy policy. As previously mentioned, privacy is a fundamental human right.

Thus, many countries have laws in place that require you to display it if you live in one of them or you collect and use any data about their citizens. If you want to have an online web entity, you should comply with these laws to prevent facing legal issues.

Having third-party services might require you to do so

As an online entity, there’s a possibility that you enlist the help of other third-party services to boost your online presence and increase your web traffic and visibility or to simply help you manage your website.

Examples of these include Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliates. These third-party services work effectively because they store and use the private information of web visitors. It is your duty as a host website to ensure that your visitors know how their personal data are being used to enhance their experience online.

It helps you establish a connection with your audience

Having a privacy policy enables you to develop a stronger connection with your customers. When you display your privacy policy, you are letting your customers know that you value transparency.

You don’t want to take advantage of their private information. You are making your intentions regarding personal data collection, storage, and sharing known. This is a good step.

After all, being deceitful means that you not only risk losing all the credibility you have built over the years with website visitors; you can also face charges for your illegal activities with regard to the use of personal data.

Expert tip: Take the hassle of writing your own privacy policy away with our privacy policy generator. It will save you hours of work and possible costly legal mistakes.

Privacy policy law requirements

As we have previously stated, displaying privacy policy agreements for websites that use web visitors’ information is mandatory by law. That is because the collected data can be used to identify an individual who has visited the site. Let’s take a closer look at the privacy laws in some territories around the world:

1. United States of America

There are several states and federal laws in the USA that have provisions on data privacy:

  • The California Consumer Protection Act of 2020
  • The Computer Security Act of 1997
  • The Consumer Credit Reporting Control Act
  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986
  • The Americans With Disability Act
  • The Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2001 (last updated in 2013)
  • The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984

Additionally, you have to get familiar with the laws and acts in the state where you reside. For instance, the State of California has the CCPA in place among others.

2. European Union

The European Union has its own General Data Protection Regulations, which regulates the collection, processing, and storing of personal data of its citizens. This directive clearly states that companies operating from the EU must have a privacy policy. They should also display this on their web pages to ensure full disclosure to the web visitors.

Furthermore, this directive establishes a legal framework inside, of which you can gather and use the personal data of website visitors. This ruling also governs how businesses can collect, store, and use personal data and what they need to do to protect it from misuse.

To put it simply, EU’s privacy policy laws do not just limit its scope on making sure that you have a policy and you display it accordingly. It also seeks to remind web owners of the utility limits of collected personal data, and how one should handle that information properly.

3. Australia

Australia also has a law that governs data privacy. It is called the Privacy Act and was established back in 1988. This law requires businesses from Australia to have and display a privacy policy.

Australia’s Privacy Act strictly regulates how companies need to handle sensitive user data. It covers all segments of sensitive data processing, from the collection and usage to storage and disclosure.

The most crucial principle of Australia’s Privacy Act is that you need to have a privacy policy, to keep it updated, and inform website visitors about each update.

What to include in a privacy policy?

It is important to note that the privacy policy agreement has two purposes. One is to protect your business, while the other is to inform website visitors. That is why you have to be as pragmatic as you can when writing it. Besides being short and concise, refrain from using complex legalese and jargon when you are writing it.

There are various requirements when it comes to the inclusions in privacy policies per country. Nonetheless, some elements exist in almost all types and formats of privacy policies.

Of course, it would be best to review the applicable laws and consult an attorney in your country to make sure that you are complying with all requirements in privacy policies. Let’s face it though – it’s by far not the fastest or cheapest option available.

To make things much easier (and cheaper!) without compromising on the quality of the document, you may use an online privacy policy generator.

If, however, you decide to venture out and learn the ever-changing legal requirements by yourself, here are some of the things that you should make sure to include when drafting your own privacy policy:

Type of information collected

It’s not enough for you to mention that the personal information of your web visitor will be used to enhance their online experience and improve your data. You must elaborate on the details because this could be misconstrued.

What that means is that you really have to delve on to the nitty-gritty when it comes to detailing the information you plan to get. Your web visitors should know that their name, age, email address, the state they live in, and their social media platforms are going to be stored for lawful use.

The purpose of information collection

Gather as many “yes, I agree” from your web visitors by explaining the reason why you want to access their personal information. Most websites explain their need for this type of data by stating that they need the data to increase the overall satisfaction of their clients, customers, or followers.

If you wish to utilize their private information in other lawful ways, list that reason as well to make sure that all your bases are covered when it comes to disclosure.

How you collect information

To remove the unfamiliar and shed some light on your privacy policy, mention the process of how you collect the information from your web visitors. By doing this, your customers won’t feel like they’re being exploited when they visit your web pages.

Moreover, they’ll have an understanding as to how the internal process of information collection works. It also enhances your relationship with your consumers and establishes a level of trust between the brand and the customer.

How you protect information

It’s not enough to state that you’re collecting information to enhance their web experience. You should also assure your customers that you are doing your best to protect their information and avoid leaks or mishandlings. As they say, what happens on your website should stay on your website.

All the data you gather from visitors need to stay in the circle of your company or partners who have the authority to use it. Of course, you must state it in your privacy policy.

If you want your target audience to trust and allow you to use their personal information, you need to make them feel safe. Having a transparent privacy policy will help you establish a certain level of trust with your customers.

The option to deny information collection

You likewise need to allow your target audience to decide whether or not they find your privacy policy acceptable. Some businesses simply restrict access in total if a visitor doesn’t want to accept the terms, while others make just a part of their content visible.

It’s up to you to make this decision as a business. Still, it needs to be in accordance with your long-term goals.