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. We are going to start with what a privacy policy is, and why you need it on your official website. We will also supply you with some examples and a privacy policy Template.

It is important to understand that websites usually use cookies that store visitors’ data, and because of this, displaying the privacy policy is of utmost importance. 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.

What is a privacy policy?

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.

Unlike other legal documents that people and companies display on their websites, the privacy policy is the only one that is required by law. The law strictly regulates the practice of displaying the privacy policy on websites or apps. We will come back to this in the privacy policy law requirements section of this article.

The definition of a privacy policy is easy to understand: “A privacy policy is a form of agreement. It is required by law if you use and/or collect any website (application user) personal data. The single purpose of this agreement is to inform website visitors about your data collection and sharing practices.”

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
  • Birthdate
  • Postal Address
  • Any other information that can be used to identify the individual visiting your website

Why you need a privacy policy

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.
  • There are also third-party services that may put you in a position to have to display the privacy policy because they collect and use website visitors’ private data. For instance, Google AdSense and Amazon Affiliates, among others, have these kinds of actions and will require you to have a privacy policy on display on the website.
  • You will make it easier for your customers to establish a strong connection with your brand. By displaying the privacy policy, you will make your intentions regarding personal data collection, storing, and sharing quite clear. By being deceitful, you not only risk losing all the credibility you have built over the years with website visitors but also facing charges for your illegal activities.

In any case, you can’t go wrong with displaying a privacy policy on your website. In case you didn’t need it in the first place, there won’t be any harm done to you or the website visitors.

Privacy policy law requirements

As we have previously stated, displaying privacy policy agreements is mandatory by law, unlike displaying the terms and conditions. This is simply because the collected data can be used to identify an individual who has visited the website. Let’s take a closer look at some privacy laws.

What to include in the privacy policy?

Please note that we are going to talk about what to include in the privacy policy in general. You must consult the applicable laws and policies of your country, and countries of your website visitors in order to cover all legal grounds.

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. This 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.

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

In order to remove the unfamiliar and shed some light on your privacy policy, you should also state the means you’re using in order to gather their personal information. By including this segment, you will enable those particularly suspicious visitors to do some additional research and check whether your method is reliable or not.

How you protect information

What happens on your website should stay on your website. All the data you gather from visitors needs to stay in the circle of your company or partners who have the authority to use it, which of course needs to be stated in your privacy policy. If you want for your target audience to be trustworthy and allow you to use their personal information, you need to make them feel safe.

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 business 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.