Why Your Website Needs a Privacy Policy

As a business owner, you have to think about a lot of things, some of which you have a lot of knowledge about, and some not so much. What should go into your website’s privacy policy probably falls into the category of those things you might not know much about

In this article, we’ll walk you through the important reasons why having a privacy policy is a must for your company’s website. If you're looking for help with your website's Terms of Use, you can find help here

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Many States & Countries Require One

A growing number of states and foreign countries are passing legislation requiring websites to have provisions contained in your website’s privacy policy. For example, California has specific privacy policy requirements that should be included in your privacy policy if your website has California residents visiting your site. Moreover, the U.S., by way of the Federal Trade Commission, enacts hefty fines to businesses for not displaying an active privacy policy or those that fail to comply with the stated privacy policy.  

If you’re doing business in the the European Union has an extremely detailed set of regulations regarding data privacy in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR sets forth many requirements for websites that obtain information from their users (which most sites do through tools such as Google Analytics, cookies, web beacons, etc.).

Google Requires a Privacy Policy

In addition to the various legal reasons to have a privacy policy, as a practical matter, you need one because Google requires it. For most, a website is an opportunity to interact with users that are looking for answers to specific searches or get traffic from online advertising. But no matter how high quality your content or how engaging your ads, Google won’t work with you if your site doesn’t have a privacy policy that meets their specifications.

Additionally, app stores like Google Play and Apple require app developers to have privacy policies linked to their apps before they are approved. If app users can't find your privacy policy for whatever reason, your app could be suspended or even worse, shut down.

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If Children Visit Your Site – You Must Comply with COPPA

If your site has young visitors, you should be sure to educate yourself about COPPA and other privacy protection laws that pertain to children. For example, you should be aware that there are privacy laws like Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that apply to sites with users under 13 years of age.

Among other things, COPPA requires parental consent for the collection or use of any personal information pertaining to children. You will also want to post the privacy policy on any page where the information would be collected. You’ll also want to establish procedures for how to respond to parental demands to delete user information.

It Builds Trust with Your Website Users

A privacy policy done right tells your customers that you're a legitimate company that’s transparent and strives to abide by customer-centric practices. Building trust with you’re the public is key to making customers and better yet, repeat customers. Transparency helps build trust and respect and demonstrates that you strive for excellence and good practices. 

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Consider Getting Help

Be forewarned that writing a privacy policy is not something you can do by simply copying and pasting another site’s policy. A privacy policy is a legal document that needs to take into account all of the information your site collects from users as well as a deep evaluation of where your users are coming from is paramount. So it’s best to consult an attorney before posting something haphazardly on your site.

If you already have a privacy policy, you should get in the habit of reviewing it regularly to make sure it accurately reflects your current business practices and stays legally compliant. Again, it’s always a safe bet to consult with an attorney about what is recommended in your state and country. He or she will speak with you and determine the best content for your privacy policy.

 

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