“By using this website you agree to the terms of our privacy policy and terms and conditions” frequently flashes across the screen of any unknowing web surfer in the 21st century. In an age where more private information is stored in public areas, we want to be sure that our information is being protected.

Most websites should have a privacy policy and terms and conditions, to comply with the ever-growing amount of local laws governing that practice. Not only that, it’s also a good way to share with your users exactly what they can expect by visiting your website.

So What is a Privacy Policy?

Simply, a privacy policy is a document on your website that details what personal information you collect from your users, what you do with that information, and how you plan to keep it private.

While many countries are starting to consider privacy a fundamental human right, many businesses are not. Data privacy laws require anyone that is collecting personal information to disclose who it is being used and how it is being kept safe.

The content of said policy will depend upon the applicable laws or policies, and what you are keeping. For a normal website, this is likely just browser cookies and sometimes IP addresses. If you ask for users to submit their email address, this is personal information. If you have a larger form where people purchase insurance policies or enter their address, this is more personal information

Do You Need a Privacy Policy?

We recommend that every company has a privacy policy. We also recommend you consult with an attorney to do so, not just copy and paste someone else’s privacy policy. Even if you aren’t required to by law, you likely will be soon. A lot of third-party companies require a privacy policy now, and it’s just good sense to have one.

Being transparent and sharing honest information with how you collect data also goes a long way with establishing trust. Obtaining and then using a user’s data in secret, especially to market or sell to them, is deceitful and devious. This is why it’s illegal in many countries.

If you’re not sure whether or not you need a privacy policy, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What Should Be Included?

When creating this policy, the exact information required will depend on the applicable laws, policies, or agreements.

Most policies inform of:

  • Your website’s legal business name, location, and contact information.
  • What information is collected, and how you’re collecting it
  • How you’re keeping it safe (for example, on our clients that use Windows Azure for website hosting, we make sure to notate how secure their facilities are)
  • If they can opt out, and how they can opt out. If they can’t opt out, this needs to be clear
  • Note any third-party services you’re using to collect, process, or store that information (like Google Analytics, your MailChip newsletter, and so on)

Don’t use complex legal jargon or terms that you don’t understand. While you view this as a way of protecting yourself, the point of this policy is to explain to users what they are opting into. Make it  short, concise and easy to understand.

Online Resources for Creating Privacy Policies
Don’t Have One? Create it Today.

While it may seem like an unnecessary hassle, putting it off is the same as putting off having insurance for yourself. You really want to make sure it’s in place before you need it, when it’s too late.