One of the most important things when you own a website and/or run an online shop, that should not be neglected is the legal side of things. In this article, we are going to provide all the information necessary to completely understand Privacy Policies.
Since everything online is exposed to cyber-attacks and data theft, make sure to check the privacy laws and legal requirements, as they are quite rigorous if you fail to comply.
Let's slow things down and work our way gradually. There is a lot of ground to cover and every single piece of information found here deserves your undivided attention.
Table of contents
Privacy is considered as one of the fundamental human rights by many countries in the world. The governments of these countries have passed legislation to protect individuals from their personal data being collected, distributed and used for numerous purposes without their knowledge.
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.
Here is what falls into the category of personal data:
- Visitor's IP address
- Full name, name or surname
- Email address
- Postal Address
- Any other information that can be used to identify the individual visiting your website
There are several compelling reasons why website owners need it, and here are some of them:
- In many cases, you will be required to display it by law. As we have stated above, privacy is a fundamental human right, and 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.
The United States of America
There are several states and federal laws in the USA that have provisions on data privacy:
- 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
Besides this, you will have to get familiar with such laws and acts of the state you reside in. For instance, the State of California has the Business and Professions Code in power.
In the end, make sure to check if there are any extensive legal requirements of having Privacy Policies, depending on your business model and the industry you are in.
Furthermore, this directive clearly establishes a legal framework inside of which you can gather and use the personal data of website visitors. This directive also governs how businesses can collect, store and use personal data and what they need to do to protect it from misuse.
Please note that this regulation has been updated and published in May 2016, but it is not going to be applied until the 25th of May, 2018.
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.
Type of information collected
It's not enough for you to state that "personal information will be used" - you need to elaborate on this term because it's relative.
Therefore, go into the tiniest details when it comes to the information you plan on using, whether that will be only the name, or the name and age, the email address, the state where they live in, and whether you want to access their social platform accounts in order to reach other preferences.
The purpose of information collection
In order to gather as many "yes, I agree", it's necessary to explain the purpose of your which to access personal information.
Most websites explain their need for this type of data by stating that it's for the purposes of increasing the overall satisfaction of their clients, customers, or followers. However, you do need to be very specific about your intention and especially so if they exceed the usual expectations.
How you collect information
How you protect information
The option to deny information collection
Although your primary goal is to have as many regular visitors as possible, you still need to allow your target audience to decide whether or not they find your document acceptable.
Some businesses simply restrict access in total if a visitor doesn't want to accept the terms, others make just a part of their content visible, while some just offer it as a proposal. It's up to you to make this decision individually and it needs to be in accordance with your long-term goals.
Since many website owners use some kind of advertising network to further monetize their online presence, here are a few things you need to inform your visitors about when you use Google AdSense.
- Cookies are going to store information about your prior visits to this website and Google is going to use the cookies to serve ads based on this information.
- Google also uses the DoubleClick cookies that store not only user information about prior visits to your website, but to other websites as well.
- You (a website user) can disable this DoubleClick cookie by accessing the settings panel of Google AdSense.
- If you are using any other advertising networks, make sure to provide a link to those too.
- Inform users about interest-based advertising, how it works, and what they can do to disable it. Provide additional information by placing links to external websites.
In order to get a better insight into this matter, take a look at a couple of privacy policies agreements of popular websites.
Take a look at their opening sentence, for instance: "Amazon.com knows that you care how information about you is used and shared, and we appreciate your trust that we will do so carefully and sensibly."
One of the reasons behind this is because it makes it easier for website visitors to notice and also understand that there are several different legal agreements.
Here is the footer of the Google.com page:
The enforceability of this agreement can be implemented by using either browse-wrap or clickwrap. A browse-wrap would be the first two examples in the previous section of the article, while the clickwrap method can be seen in the last example of the last section.
- To display it prominently on the page (not close to edges, for instance).
- Make the font and links different and easier to spot (size, style, color).
- Notify users about changes.
When using the clickwrap method, make sure to:
- Provide unchecked checkbox if you use one. Remember, it is about forcing a visitor to take action (If a visitor wants to continue without checking the box, provide a notice informing them why they can't continue the registration process).
We reserve the right to change this policy at any given time, of which you will be promptly updated. If you want to make sure that you are up to date with the latest changes, we advise you to frequently visit this page.
What User Data We Collect
When you visit the website, we may collect the following data:
- Your IP address.
- Your contact information and email address.
- Other information such as interests and preferences.
- Data profile regarding your online behavior on our website.
Why We Collect Your Data
We are collecting your data for several reasons:
- To better understand your needs.
- To improve our services and products.
- To send you promotional emails containing the information we think you will find interesting.
- To contact you to fill out surveys and participate in other types of market research.
- To customize our website according to your online behavior and personal preferences.
Safeguarding and Securing the Data
[name] is committed to securing your data and keeping it confidential. [name] has done all in its power to prevent data theft, unauthorized access, and disclosure by implementing the latest technologies and software, which help us safeguard all the information we collect online.
The data we collect by using cookies is used to customize our website to your needs. After we use the data for statistical analysis, the data is completely removed from our systems.
Please note that cookies don't allow us to gain control of your computer in any way. They are strictly used to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not so that we can provide a better experience for you.
If you want to disable cookies, you can do it by accessing the settings of your internet browser. (Provide links for cookie settings for major internet browsers).
Links to Other Websites
Restricting the Collection of your Personal Data
At some point, you might wish to restrict the use and collection of your personal data. You can achieve this by doing the following:
- When you are filling the forms on the website, make sure to check if there is a box which you can leave unchecked, if you don't want to disclose your personal information.
- If you have already agreed to share your information with us, feel free to contact us via email and we will be more than happy to change this for you.
This legal agreement has the legal power and will be used in the court of law if your business is facing serious charges regarding any of the data privacy law violations. This is why writing and enforcing it deserves your undivided attention.
- Updated on December 12, 2019