Privacy policies are one of the most overlooked aspects of most websites. If you stop to look around most of the popular sites you visit, you’ll find they all have unique privacy policies (though the specific page’s traffic is usually low). Even so, these documents are important if you want your website to comply with local and international regulations.
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What Privacy Policies Are (And Why They’re Important)
Privacy policies are legal documents informing users what you do with their data. For example, if you collect email addresses, names, and birthdays during the user signup process, you need to tell users what happens with their information. For example, some websites might use it for internal purposes only (such as customer profiling). Others might sell the information to third-party services, in which case consent is necessary.
As you’ll be aware, privacy policies are usually skipped over by the majority of visitors. However, there are several benefits to adding one to your website:
- Some countries require privacy policies as part of the law. Some local and international regulations, such as the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) and the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require you to outline what you do with user information.
The next section will explore some tools to generate full privacy policies with little input from your end. Even then, it’s essential you have a working understanding of what their basics are.
1. How and What Type of Information You Collect
This clause is the bread and butter of privacy policies. It details the exact information you collect, and how. To recall our earlier example, you can get email addresses and names directly from signup forms. However, there is also data you can obtain without the user knowing. For example, Google Analytics tracks the user’s preferred web browser, which needs to be mentioned.
Personally Identifiable Information refers to information that tells us specifically who you are, such as your name, email address, or phone number. Downloading information or logging in may allow the Company to “recognize” you to allow us to personalize our service for you.
This first section discusses what we consider to be personal information, as opposed to anonymous data we might collect. It also mentions we may use the information to personalize your user experience. In our case, logging in is only necessary to download products you may have purchased, so it’s not obligatory.
2. What You Do With the Information You Collect
For our Clients, we use personal information mainly to provide the Services and contact our Clients regarding account activities, new version and product offerings, or other communications relevant to the Services. We do not sell or share any personally identifiable or other information of End Users to any third parties, except, of course, to the applicable Client whose website you are using.
For example, if your ZenMSP service is about to expire, we send you an email reminder. In this case, we’re using your personal information to provide an update.
In any case, if you’re not comfortable with the way a website uses your information, the GDPR outlines the ‘right to be forgotten‘. This means sites are bound by law to delete your information if you ask them to cancel your account, for example.
Cookies are files on your computer that contain personal settings for specific websites. The term itself supposedly comes from ‘magic cookies’, which are a type of token used by UNIX-based Operating Systems (OS).
The above explains how cookies are used and what they are. Later on in the policy, we would also discuss how you can opt out of using cookies, including those served by third-party services on our website (such as Google and MailChimp).
- Lets you customize your policy using your company’s information.
- Enables you add necessary clauses for several popular third-party services, including Amazon Associates and Google Analytics.
- Provides automatic updates to your policy based on any new regulations.
Price: Free and paid plans available | More Information
TermsFeed enables you to generate basic privacy policies in minutes, and customize them using your site’s information. Each time you want to create a new policy, the service will walk you through a questionnaire to help you determine the clauses you need. When the process is over, you’ll receive your new policy via email in seconds. The platform also offers you the option of updating your policies automatically as laws change.
- Enables you to generate custom privacy policies using a simple questionnaire.
- Lets you adjust your policy to comply with national and international laws.
- Provides automatic policy updates whenever the law changes.
Price: Free and paid plans available | More Information
- Enables you to outline how you deal with customer payment information.
Price: Free, but you need a Shopify subscription to get the most out of it | More Information
For this portion of the piece, we’ll use iubenda given its ease of use and reasonable pricing structure. To get started, go to the service’s home page and click on the GENERATE YOUR POLICY button to the top right of the page. On the next window, enter your website’s URL and click the blue button:
Clicking on the button will show you a list of clauses you can add:
When you’re done adding services, click on the Next button at the bottom of the page. You’ll now need to enter your company’s name and address, then click on Next again:
On the final screen, you’ll find options to embed your policy into your website:
Website privacy policies don’t get the spotlight they deserve. However, they’re essential elements of any website that takes data protection regulations seriously. On top of enabling you to keep your operations above board, privacy policies also outline how your site handles personal information, which should help put visitors’ minds at ease.