Website Privacy Policies

Over the past several months, you’ve probably noticed websites asking you to agree a cookie/privacy policy. But, do you know why these are suddenly popping up all over your favorite websites and their value? Here are four reasons privacy policies are important and what goes into a credible policy.

  1. It’s the law. The U.S., and many other countries, have privacy policy laws, that require companies to protect their customer’s personal information. By displaying your company’s privacy policy up front on your website, visitors can acknowledge that your company, and its website, have the client’s best interest in mind and follow the law.
  2. It’s Quickly Becoming a Requirement for many Commonly Used Tools: If you use Google Analytics, Google AdSense or have plans to submit an app to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, you are required to post a privacy policy on your site. Programs such as Google Analytics and Google AdSense are collecting visitors’ data, such as which pages they’re viewing, how long they’re on the site, or which ad(s) they’ve clicked through, and as the user of those programs, it is your responsibility to tell visitors you will protect that information. This is not always strictly enforced but considering recently passed laws in Europe and California I believe it’s simply a matter of time.
  3. Its good business. Web users have come to recognize that a privacy policy is a way for website administrators to be honest with visitors. It shows that the owners of the site can be trusted and take safety and privacy seriously.
  4. Legal battles are expensive. If a privacy policy does not contain all the proper information necessary it can lead to a lawsuit over not protecting visitors’ or users’ personal data appropriately. Here’s an article about how tech firms are being sued over lack of information in their policies.

Small businesses don’t need to have long, extremely detailed privacy policies, like those of Facebook or Google, but your website should have one that describes your company’s views on privacy and how its collecting visitors’ information.

There are four main sections to a well-written privacy policy.

  1. This section can be a sentence or two about your organization, what it does and if anything on the site is directed toward minors, it should state that here.
  2. Data collection. In this area, you need to describe what information is being collected, such as if your site has a form, you should tell users that a form is used to collect contact information to reach clients or customers, but that the information is securely stored and not being shared. If there’s a login on your site, it’s important to note what information is being collected to allow access to this area, such as usernames or IP addresses.
  3. Visitors have a right to know how their contact information and visitor information are being stored within your website. If you’re unsure how this data is being secured, ask your website’s hosting service.
  4. Finally, make sure there’s an area where visitors can contact you for more information. This can be as simple as a link to your website’s contact form.

Having a privacy policy is good business, and a way to show visitors you’re a serious company that wants to protect its user’s information. If you’re unsure how to write a privacy policy or how to put one on your website, contact me at Circle City Web Design and I’d be happy to further describe what your website needs and get one added.

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