Privacy policies explain how websites and businesses collect, protect, store, and utilize personal information from their users.
There are different privacy policies out there and each country has different laws regarding privacy that companies must follow.
The personal information that companies collect from websites and apps can vary, but some can include:
- Date of birth
- IP addresses
- Mailing addresses
- Email addresses
- Payment details
Privacy policies should outline the ways the company will use the information it collects. Aside from this, they should also include how they’ll follow all legal obligations.
Privacy policies can vary based on the industry, business, location of your customers, and more. Here are some of the elements that they contain:
- Opt-out: This is the option to opt-out of any data collection
- Usage: Explains how the company plans to use the information they collect
- Company Information: The company’s contact information if customers want more information about the policies in place
- Customer Data: A list of the type of information that is collected and how
- Tracking: How the company uses tools such as log files, cookies, and more
- Storage and Protection: A description of how the information is stored and protected from hackers
Privacy policies can differ based on the company. You can include the following elements in your policy depending on the type of company you have:
- Third-party Access: A description of any third-party services that will have access to the customers’ data
- Public Data: How you will control and share public data
- Transfers: Information regarding how your company will share personal information and data with other businesses
- Changing or Removing: How you can modify or delete any customer data
- Marketing: Informing customers of whether you’ll use their email addresses to send your company’s marketing information
- Questions: Answers to frequently asked questions about data collection and usage
Most privacy policies should include five fundamental aspects. These include choice, notice, security, access, and enforcement. Below is a brief explanation of each one.
- Choice: Consumers should be able to decide if they want companies to collect and use their personal information. Your policy should have an option to opt-out of cookies, set custom cookie preferences, and decline newsletter subscriptions.
- Notice: Every consumer should know about the company's data collection when they visit a website or app.
- Enforcement: This section will implement principles in your policy. Companies should explain how they’ll adhere to the enforcement as well as how they'll address and fix violations to the clauses.
These fundamental aspects of the privacy notice should be customized based on the way each company will proceed.
You can also consider writing a privacy statement with the help of a template or sample. This gives you the most control over your company’s policy. Most templates act as a guide and have the information that you should include in your statement. You can also add sections that are unique to your business.
1. What Kind of Data You Collect and Its Uses
It’s important for consumers to know the kind of data you’ll collect from them. This can include IP addresses, email addresses, names, ages, credit card information, and more. The key here is to be as specific as possible in order to avoid any kind of confusion.
Aside from this, tell consumers why you’re collecting that information. You might use it to recommend new products that you think will appeal to them in the future. It can also be useful to collect that information in order to tailor promotions to a specific audience or niche. Be transparent and detailed so that there is no confusion.
2. Method of Data Collection
3. Connection Clause
Sometimes, websites will collect information in order to communicate with their customers. If this is your goal, then you’ll need to include a connection clause. In privacy policies, this section informs users know how you’ll communicate with them and why you’re planning to do so.
Let consumers know that you’ll provide them updates on their transactions through SMS, Facebook Messenger, email. You might want to send them a text message regarding upcoming sales or send email newsletters. You should highlight all of these in your policy.
There should also be an option for consumers to opt out of having their information collected. Your policy should state how they can do that by giving them a link or other vital information that they’ll need.
4. Security Information
When it comes to financial information, most people find it to be a sensitive topic. You should include details regarding encryption and implemented security measures that protect this kind of information. This will give people peace of mind that their financial information like bank accounts, credit cards, and home addresses are safe. They’ll also feel safe paying on your website.
Give your consumers a list of their rights and how they can exercise them. A redress policy can provide you with a chance to make things right if your consumers feel that you’ve violated their privacy. This also shows that you respect their privacy and stick to your policy. Let consumers know that they can also submit privacy violation reports to the U.S. Government.
5. Child Privacy
There is a privacy protection act in the US that enforces child privacy on websites. It's called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It's a law that requires companies to have specific protocols in order to collect private data from minors.
6. Potential Future Changes
Many businesses grow and change over time. Due to this, so do most privacy policies. Your policy should include a section that describes your right to adjust or change the policy at any time. Your consumers should also have a right to know about revisions, and you can include that within this section. Inform your consumers that you’ll notify them of changes to your policies when they occur and how.
7. Contact Information
It's common for privacy policies to include company contact information. It allows consumers to contact you if necessary.
The policies can establish trust between you and your consumers. Customize them based on the kind of company you have and more. The guide above can help you draft up a policy of your own. Include the necessary elements and be sure that your policy is complete.