What is a privacy policy? Why do you need it?

Privacy Policy: Key Information

In today’s digital age, privacy policy is one of the most passionate topics. For some, it is considered a fundamental right. Large companies often collect a variety of data about their users and (with or without knowledge) share this information with third parties. Therefore, various privacy policies may define how personal user data is collected and with whom and when a company may (or may not) share it. Unfortunately, the Internet is international, so it can sometimes be difficult to ensure that data on a website in one country in the world is handled as you expect it to be under your country’s laws.

Many new websites often do not have any privacy guidelines, so it may be unclear exactly to whom and how they use the data. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon, although privacy policy is one of the key factors that can protect a user’s identity. Therefore, if you have your own business or are otherwise developing your own website, keep in mind an appropriate privacy policy that can protect both you (as a company) and the personal data of your visitors.

What exactly is a privacy policy?

All websites must have a privacy policy. This publicly available document must explain how the company will collect, store, analyze and delete the data provided by users. Data provided by users may vary depending on the nature of your business and when, and for what purpose.

In general, privacy policies typically specify how data such as a user-provided name, date of birth, physical address, email address, payment details, location of a user’s device, and more will be managed. Depending on the nature of the business, other information or additional data security alerts may be provided.

In their privacy policies, companies also typically state their commitment to protecting the data they collect. This is an important aspect, as it determines the legal responsibility that the company will take if the security of the data collected is compromised or leaked. It should be mentioned here that large companies usually hire a lawyer to formulate privacy policy statements in order to minimize the impact on the company in the event of a data leak.

Is a privacy policy necessary?

The short answer would be – yes! Almost every country in the world requires companies to have privacy policies in place to help protect consumer data. However, it should be borne in mind that slightly different requirements may exist in each country, and in the United States (USA), these requirements may vary from state to state.

Privacy in the US and the European Union

If you are doing business in the U.S. market, you should be aware that there are no general privacy policies in this country. The law is state-wide, so you need to consider the specific location of your business. For example, if your business is limited to the state of California, then it is important for you to follow the California Online Privacy Protection Act. in a place where everyone can see it.

If your activities are carried out within the European Union or only in Lithuania, then it is important for you to read the General Data Protection Regulation (BDAR) and follow its instructions. Even if your business is based outside the EU, but you provide services to EU residents, your site must meet BDAR requirements.

Third-party services may require a privacy policy

If your site requires the use of various third-party services, they will most likely require that you have your own privacy policy and that that policy does not violate their own policies.

A great example of such a service is Google Analytics and AdSense tools, which are used for advertising purposes. Their services can only be used if you have a clear privacy policy that states exactly what cookies you use. If you do not meet their requirements, you will not be able to use their services, which may adversely affect your business.

Proper documentation gives your site credibility

We rely more and more on technology in our lives, but it also means we increasingly value our privacy. This becomes especially important when companies are asking for a lot of data in order to provide us with services. If you are also a business owner, it is very important to be transparent and credible in order to gain the trust of consumers. It is therefore very important to make clear how you collect and use user data.

Many people find a site unreliable if it does not clearly define how users’ personal data is handled. If you don’t already have a privacy policy, don’t wait until you notice a drop in traffic to your site, and set up a privacy policy today.

What should be mentioned in the privacy policy?

Some items are considered mandatory when developing a privacy policy. However, you can decide how detailed it will be and what is important given the nature of your business. The information that must be included in your privacy policy also depends on the country in which you operate, as some requirements apply in the US and others in the EU.

True, it is often possible to use a privacy policy tool that will include all the key points and create a privacy policy that is right for your business (website). Private legal advice is not mandatory, it is often only needed in exceptional cases or if the nature of your business is particularly closely linked to the collection of sensitive personal data.

A sound privacy policy should include:

Information about how you collect and store personal information. This may sound like the most obvious item on this list, but users may want to find out why or how you collect their data, what you can and cannot do with them. It’s also important to mention here if you’re collecting specific data in order for your site to function properly.
Mention how the data collection process works. Many companies forget that consumers need to be informed that, for example, background data is being collected about the user’s location or that other data is being collected without the consumer’s knowledge. These are little things that a company should always inform its customers about.
By completing the first two points, your visitors will know why and what information you are collecting, but it is also worth describing what you will do with this information in the future. This is probably one of the most important parts of any well-written privacy policy. It is also worth mentioning whether you will use the information to ensure the smooth operation of the site or for other purposes.
The security of personal information is another important point that should not be missed when writing a privacy policy. Explain specifically and clearly how the company plans to protect personal data and what steps it takes to ensure data security. It is worth noting that even if you take all possible security measures, your company is not responsible for certain fraudulent schemes.
Remember to provide information to consumers that they have the right to refuse to provide you with information. For example, they can indicate what they agree and do not agree to share. It can also be mentioned here that not providing certain data can affect their browsing experience and describe exactly how it will be affected.
Cookies are another thing that almost all websites use, but each of them may collect cookies differently or use them for different purposes. Therefore, the privacy policy should mention information about cookies and link to a separate page where the cookie policy and other related information can be found.
Another important point of the privacy policy is the sharing of data with third-party companies. If you share the collected user data with someone else, you must inform the users. For example, this may be necessary if you use a payment system developed by a third party and need to submit certain data in order for the payment process to take place.

Make sure users can reach you easily

Even with a great privacy policy, visitors to your site may still have additional questions. Therefore, in order to ensure transparency and create the image of a reliable company, do not forget to indicate your contacts so that consumers can contact you if they have any questions. It is common to provide a business phone number and email address for easy contact with users.

Meet all requirements and avoid fines

It’s important to include all the information about your business in our privacy policy, and the data we collect and how we use it can vary greatly if we compare two companies with completely different activities. Therefore, consider the nature of your business and evaluate where your business is located and in which country or region it operates, as you may incur legal liability if you fail to comply with local laws. For example, the provisions of the BDAR should be followed when operating in Lithuania.

Where is best to place a privacy policy

It is common practice to place a privacy policy in the footer (bottom bar) of your site. However, keep in mind that it should not be hidden or hard to find. If you want to remain honest and transparent, it’s important that users have easy access to your privacy policy, such as when you browse the site in certain cases. One way is to create a pop-up that will allow you to read and agree (or disagree) with your privacy policy.

The final verdict

A privacy policy is a legal document that defines how certain information is collected, stored and used on your site. It must explain your intentions regarding data collection and may also be the legal basis for your responsibility (or lack thereof) if the user takes legal action. It’s important to keep in mind that depending on where your business operates, the absence of a privacy policy can be penalized, so it’s important to comply with applicable law.

Source: Termshub.io

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