Privacy is a fundamental right and has become a hot topic with the rise of the digital age, with people knowingly, and sometimes unknowingly, sharing a large quantity of personal information online.
Regulating privacy is a challenge, with new websites popping up every day and customers located all over the globe, where privacy laws may vary from country to country.
In this article, I will guide you through this seemingly complex topic.
- Making the policy easily accessible and regularly updating it in accordance with your business and legal changes will ensure continuous compliance and trust with your users.
Table of Contents
Download it in your preferred format and personalize it to your needs depending on where you’re located, your audience and other factors discussed further in this article.
It’ll automatically put together all the required elements based on your needs and requirements and keep it up to date with the ever-changing laws so you won’t have to worry about it yourself.
PRO TIP: Though you don’t have to, you may get the generated policy reviewed by a lawyer for extra peace of mind. It’s going to cost a whole lot less and take much less time than having them draft it for you from scratch.
- Compliance with the legal requirements
- Meeting third-party service requirements
- Increasing transparency and building trust
Compliance With the Legal Requirements
Let’s break down why that is and what it means for you.
In Europe, a law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires businesses to tell people how they’re using their information.
If a company doesn’t follow the rules, it could face a fine. And these fines can be quite large, up to 4% of the company’s yearly income or €20 million.
In the United States, different states have their own data privacy laws.
California, for example, has the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA). It gives people who live in California specific rights about their personal information.
Canada’s approach to online privacy is governed by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). This law requires businesses to obtain consent when they collect, use, or disclose personal information.
Australia’s Privacy Act 1988 sets out the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), which regulate how personal information is handled, used, and managed.
Other countries have their own laws too. While each law might have different rules, they all want businesses to be clear about how they’re using people’s information.
Meeting Third-Party Service Requirements
When you run a website, chances are you use third-party services. These are companies that help you with different things on your site. For example, you might use a service to help you process payments or track how many people visit your site.
Why do third-party services care about this? Well, they want to make sure that you’re following the law. They also want to protect themselves. If you’re not careful with people’s information, it could cause problems for them too.
For example, if you use a third-party payment processor, they’ll want to know that you’re keeping people’s credit card information safe. If you’re not, and something goes wrong, it could affect their business as well.
Increasing Transparency and Building Trust
Transparency is all about being open and clear. When people visit your website, they might be sharing personal information like their name, email, or even credit card details.
By being upfront about what information you’re collecting and how you’ll use it, you show your visitors that you respect their privacy. It’s like telling a friend a secret and knowing they won’t tell anyone else.
Trust is key to any relationship, and it’s the same with your website’s visitors. If people trust your site, they’re more likely to come back, buy something, or recommend it to others.
Think about your own experiences online. Have you ever left a website because something felt off, or you weren’t sure if you could trust it? A clear privacy notice can help make sure that doesn’t happen on your site.
What Information Do You Collect?
When people visit your website, you likely collect different types of information. Some of it is personal, like names and email addresses. Some might be about how they use your site, like which pages they visit.
Personal information might be collected when someone signs up for a newsletter or makes a purchase. Information about how they use the site might be gathered through cookies, small files that track their activity.
If you’re collecting names and emails for a mailing list, say so. If you’re using cookies to see what products people look at, explain that.
Being open about what information you collect helps your visitors feel more comfortable. It’s like inviting them into your home and showing them where everything is. They know what to expect, and that builds trust.
What Do You Do With the Collected Information?
Let’s say you’re collecting email addresses for a newsletter. Your users would want to know if that’s the only thing you’re doing with their emails, or if you’re sharing them with other companies.
Are you using them to build a profile of their shopping habits? Or maybe you’re using their browsing data to improve your website’s design.
By detailing exactly what you do with the information you collect, you give your users the control and confidence they need. It allows them to make informed decisions about whether they want to share their information with you.
How Do You Keep the Collected Information Safe?
When you collect personal information, such as credit card numbers or addresses, you must protect it from unauthorized access to avoid potential data breaches.
This means using secure technologies like encryption, which scrambles the data so that only authorized people can read it.
But it’s not just about technology. If you run a larger business, you also need to have policies in place to make sure your employees handle the information responsibly.
This might include training on how to use the data and regular checks to make sure the rules are being followed.
Is Your Website Intended For Children?
For example, in the USA, you’re required by law to get parental consent before collecting personal information from children under 13 based on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Other countries have similar laws.
If your site is not meant for children, you should state that clearly. If it is, you must detail the steps you take to ensure that you have proper consent from a parent or guardian before collecting any information from children under 13.
Parents want to know that their children’s privacy is being respected and protected so it isn’t just a legal issue but it’s also but trust factor.
How Can Users Manage Their Information?
Firstly, your users should know that they can request access to the information you have about them. They may want to correct something that’s wrong or just see what’s there. You’ll need to explain how they can do this.
Users may also want to delete their information or ask you to stop using it in certain ways. This is often referred to as the “right to be forgotten,” especially in places where GDPR applies. Your policy should clearly lay out how users can make these requests.
Additionally, you might want to explain any tools or settings on your site that let users control their information directly. Maybe they can update their profile, change their email preferences, or opt out of certain types of data collection.
By detailing these rights and options, you explain users’ privacy rights and provide them with the control and assurance they need.
Does Your Website Use Third-Party Services?
When you use third-party services, those companies may have access to some of the information you collect from your users. This could include things like browsing habits, purchase history, or even personal details like names and email addresses.
You should clearly explain if and how you use third-party services. You need to let your users know which services you’re using and what information those services might have access to.
It’s all about transparency and control. Your users have a right to know who else might be seeing their information and for what purposes.
By outlining your use of third-party services, you keep your users informed, uphold trust, and comply with legal obligations that may apply in your region.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means as you’ll likely need to include other clauses to ensure proper coverage with privacy laws around the world.
It can also vary greatly depending on your specific needs, industry requirements, and laws and regulations in your region.
- Footer of your website
The most common place to place a link is in the footer of the website. It’s standard practice and is often where users instinctively look.
- Navigation menu
Including a link in the header navigation menu of the website can also be an effective way to ensure visibility. Some people might find it easier to locate at the top of the page, especially if they’re actively looking for it.
- Sign up page
In addition, you should consider placing links or references to the privacy page on sign-up or registration pages. If users are entering personal information, they should be made aware of the policy right at that moment.
- Checkout page
The same logic applies to checkout or payment pages. If a transaction is taking place, users should have immediate access to information about how their data is being handled.
The main goal here is to provide multiple access points to your privacy page without overwhelming the user.
This strategy ensures that no matter how someone is interacting with your site, they can quickly and easily find the information they need regarding their privacy.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how frequently you should update. It depends on the nature of your website and how often changes occur that affect privacy considerations.
Changes in your business operations, laws, or technology can and will require adjustments to how you handle personal information.
Monitoring changes in relevant laws and regulations, and revisiting your privacy practices at least annually, can be a good approach to ensure it remains appropriate and compliant. If significant changes are made, notifying users may also be a required step.
That information includes location data, notably for fraud prevention purposes, and usage and device data in order to provide a better user experience and to aid in the targeted advertising of its services on other platforms.
Robinhood also warns its customers that it obtains personal information from other sources and third parties, which it combines with the data that it has already collected from its users.
In other words, this gives the company a pretty good portrait of its customers:
The company goes on to explain how it uses that information using easy-to-read bullet points and specifies under which circumstances it would share personal data with third parties, all while specifying that it does not sell or rent personal information.
Holiday rental platform Airbnb operates all over the globe and has customers located in various jurisdictions.
Its privacy statement can be found in the Help Center and can be accessed through a hyperlink in its website footer:
Their website users are also suggested to review the privacy statement along with other legal documents during the sign-up process to ensure their are aware of them:
This includes names, phone numbers, postal addresses, email addresses, dates of birth, profile photos, photos of government-issued IDs, and payment information – and this is only the basic information required in order to be able to use the platform.
How Airbnb shares personal data is very specific to the nature of its business. Indeed, the policy states that information may be shared between members of the platform in order to facilitate booking and interactions.
Online furniture retailer Wayfair operates one of the biggest eCommerce websites on the Internet, shipping furniture to customers across the United States and internationally.
Reference to its privacy notice appears in its website footer, with a link to a separate, dedicated page:
They also encourage users to take reasonable measures to protect their passwords and prevent unauthorized access to their accounts.
It also warns customers that changes to the policy may be made periodically and as needed, with customers given notice of significant changes that could affect their information through the website, app, or by email.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I collect personal data from children under 13?
If your site is for children, comply with relevant laws like COPPA, and ensure proper consent from parents or guardians.
By clearly stating data collection and usage, users feel assured that their privacy is respected, building trust.
No, copying without permission is considered plagiarism, not to mention that different websites have different privacy requirements.