Why Every Website Should Have a Privacy Policy

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Privacy PolicyAs website users become increasingly aware of the importance of protecting their personal information online, the need for websites to include comprehensive privacy policies is more important than ever. Even if you have a simple blog, and only collect subscriber email addresses for a monthly newsletter, it’s important to let users know what information you gather, how that information will be used, and who will have access to it, in a privacy policy.

While many of us trust the websites we visit to protect our personal information, whether that’s our email address, mailing address, personal preferences or billing information, we still expect to see some confirmation that our details will be protected in writing. While many users are probably guilty of not reading a privacy policy in full, we still feel more secure knowing one is in place should we need to refer to it.

Why have a privacy policy?

Business websites and blogs alike should all include some kind of privacy policy specifying what they do to protect the information they gather from visitors, customers and users. Not just for legal reasons, but because it acts as another effective means of being transparent and building trust with your customers and readers.

Some bloggers and website owners mistakenly believe that, because they don’t collect any information, they don’t need a privacy policy at all. However, your visitors will not know you don’t collect their information unless you tell them.

Creating a privacy policy

So, how do your craft a privacy policy that properly reflects your business or blog’s views and procedures on information use and protection? Simply copying and pasting a policy you find on another website is not good practice, and will unlikely cover all of your bases.

Although a privacy policy is a legal disclosure document, with the purpose of informing and protecting consumers, it’s just as important to ensure your policy is well crafted to be readable and understandable, as well as accurate. Readers and customers won’t find a policy helpful if they can’t decipher the meaning behind the legal jargon.

If you’re crafting a privacy policy yourself, be sure to include the following…

  • An introduction, outlining your business, organisation or blog, and the function your website serves.
  • Information you collect, including details you request to signup, subscribe or purchase. You should also include information that will be logged by your servers, such as IP addresses and hostnames.
  • Your collection method, whether it’s automated collection or via a form your customers or readers fill out.
  • How you store their information. You customers and readers will want to know you make every effort to store their personal information in a safe and secure database, so detail whether their details are stored on your servers or in the cloud, or overseas.
  • If, and why, their information will be shared, which it almost certainly will be. One of the most common mistakes people make in writing their privacy policy is making statements such as ‘we will not share your information with any third party’.  Particularly if you are running a business, there will be many legitimate reasons to share user information in the day to day running of your website – from providing their postal address to a courier if they have purchased a product, to your bank as they handle credit card purchases.
  • Your contact details, to make it as easy as possible for anyone with questions regarding your privacy policy to contact you.

Have someone take care of it for you

If you are unsure how to best create a solid privacy policy for your website, there are a number of companies specialising in this service, including Snapterms, whose focus is to make “legally protecting your website simple and affordable”. If you don’t have the time or inclination to ensure your privacy policy covers everything, seeking the support of a dedicated service can be a great investment.

2 comments on “Why Every Website Should Have a Privacy Policy
  1. Hi,

    Am using your Newswire theme, however upon developing iam not able to see the Tems of service and Privacy policy links on the top left corner. Please advise.

    Regards
    Joy

    • Hi Joy, I gather you have created a privacy policy and TOS page already yes? Assuming so the next step is to go to Appearance > Menus in the admin and create a new custom menu and assign it to the Top Navigation spot. You can then add whatever links you like to this.

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