How To Write A Policy Privacy For Your Website

Admit it: When a page on a website prompts you to sign a privacy policy, you scroll past all the text without reading it and skip straight to the little checkbox that says, “Yes, I’ve read the privacy policy, and I accept its conditions.” 

We’re all guilty of it.

While lazily ignoring the fine print is typical behavior for consumers, businesses can’t create those privacy policies with the same laissez-faire attitude. 

If you collect any data from your visitors, a privacy policy for your website is legally required. That data includes a user signing up for a newsletter, paying for an item, or you collecting information for your analytics. 

Here’s the good news: 

Writing a privacy policy is not as intimidating as it seems. 

A privacy policy is a blanket statement covering all of your data practices. Once you understand how to write a privacy policy page, you and your customers will be more secure. 

Read on to learn: 

  • What a privacy policy is
  • Why you need a privacy policy for your website
  • What the privacy policy requirements are
  • How to write a privacy policy 

This post is for informational purposes and is not intended for legal use. If you want more information, please contact a legal advisor. 

What Is a Privacy Policy?

A privacy policy is a statement or legal document on a website or mobile app that explains how the website’s organizers gather, store, protect, and use any personal data provided by the website users. 

This personal data can include the user’s: 

  • Name
  • Email 
  • Birthday 
  • Location
  • Financial Information
  • Social Security Number 
  • IP Addresses

A privacy policy informs users about how you will protect their data and why you’re asking for it in the first place. It also tells users what their rights are regarding your website’s practices. 

A thorough website privacy policy outlines how a company will meet its legal obligations and why users should feel safe agreeing to it. 

Your policy should be easily accessible to visitors on every page of your website and mobile app. You can usually find it toward the bottom of the page. 

Why Do You Need a Privacy Policy?

Privacy policies are legally required if you collect personal data. It serves as protection for your company and users.

While you might think you don’t need to learn how to write a privacy policy for your website because it’s only a blog, think again. Even websites that don’t ask for data outright often collect data via analytics and other applications. 

Third-Party services that require privacy policies include:

  • Google Analytics, Google AdSense, and Google Play
  • Apple App Store
  • Advertising plug-ins
  • Email newsletter services

Beyond the legal necessity, learning how to write a privacy policy that’s effective will help build trust with your users. Consumers trust companies with secure websites. A clear website privacy policy will also make you look transparent and honest.

Your Privacy Policy Might Need Global Reach

If you do business around the country or world, your policy will have to take those regions’ laws into account. There are notable privacy laws worldwide, such as the Privacy Act of 1988 in Australia or the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act in Canada. 

Here’s the good news: 

The main requirement globally is that websites have a privacy policy, it’s displayed prominently, and it’s kept up to date. But if you do significant business in other countries, you’ll want to double-check their specific privacy laws. 

Here are a couple that might affect your business. 

CalOPPA in the United States

The California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) of 2003 affects residents of California. So if your company does business with Californians, you’ll need to make sure your website’s privacy policy complies with its standards. 

The specific standards of CalOPPA cover: 

  • That the privacy policy or a link to it must appear on the website’s home page
  • How the website handles “Do Not Track” requests 
  • Information on the use of third parties who collect user data through the website

GDPR in the European Union

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union (EU) data protection law for anyone who does business in EU countries. 

To comply with GDPR, your website privacy policy needs to follow standards including: 

  • Processing data in an ethical manner
  • Advising users of the eight rights they’re allotted under the GDPR
  • Keeping data only as long as needed

Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acijNEErf-c

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Good Privacy Policy? 

In the past, companies who violated privacy policy laws or failed to disclose their data collection methods thoroughly have faced myriad fines and legal battles. 

For example, Google and YouTube will pay $170 million for violating children’s privacy laws and collecting information without parental consent. Google has also faced trouble in multiple countries, including the United Kingdom, France, and Spain

Other companies, like Delta Airlines, went to court to challenge their fine for violating CalOPPA. Delta won its case, but many smaller companies don’t have the resources to fight such a battle.

Avoid potential crises. Protect yourself and your users by learning how to write a privacy policy.

Website Privacy Policy Requirements

  • Your business name and contact information 
  • What data you collect
  • How you collect data 
  • Why you collect data
  • How users can opt-out
  • How your data is shared with a third party
  • How long you retain the data 
  • How you’ll protect the data you collect
  • What the dispute resolution process is
  • What will happen if your business transfers ownership

This is not a comprehensive list for your website privacy policy, and some items may vary. 

Your biggest priority when you’re figuring out how to write a privacy policy is being thorough. Data isn’t just collected when users willingly put in their information. You need to list every sort of data you gather, including information collected through cookies or geolocational data. 

When describing how you use the information, it can be easy to overlook the obvious. 

But the reason you’re collecting data are what you need to include in your privacy policy, such as:

  • Marketing purposes 
  • Improving content
  • Notifying users of updates for your business
  • Running analytics 
  • Advertising purposes

Your website privacy policy should cover the lifetime of the data, from when you first collect it, to what happens to it afterward. I should also cover how you’ll keep data safe and how long you’ll use it. 

When brainstorming how to write a privacy policy, don’t overlook its original intent: to protect user data. Let your users know that you care about their privacy and keeping their data secure. 

Your privacy policy must also be displayed prominently and be easily accessible on your website and mobile app. 

Getting customer consent is also essential. Don’t forget to add a step where the customer acknowledges they’ve read and understood the privacy policy. Do this in any situation where you ask for data from your user, like when they sign up for a newsletter or input their information at checkout.

Other Privacy Policy Considerations

Depending on your website’s audience or any third party services you use, you might need to adjust the privacy policy for your website. 

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA)

A privacy policy for websites aimed at children must adhere to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). This rule includes asking for parental consent for children under 13. Many websites have a separate privacy policy page to outline the guidelines.

Cookies

You may also consider a separate cookie policy to cover any information gathered from cookies. This is especially true if your company does business in the EU since it has stricter regulations.

Third-Party Services

Several third-party services also require a privacy policy for websites. For example, Google Analytics requires privacy policies to meet its terms of service, including asking for consent to use cookies. 

How to Write a Privacy Policy

  1. Research the specific requirements for your business depending on the audience, region, and third-party services used 
  2. Familiarize yourself with policies from similar sites, but don’t plagiarize
  3. Draft a policy yourself or use a free generator or template on the internet 
  4. Take the extra precaution of hiring a lawyer to look it over

If legalese feels intimidating, you can choose to use plain, straightforward language for your privacy policy instead. 

Don’t copy and paste another website’s policy. You can use a similar structure or take ideas from others, but you have to customize your privacy policy for your website. 

While generators and templates can be helpful and accurate, be cautious. You need to learn how to write a website privacy policy that will meet the requirements for your company. Having a lawyer look it over could save you a future headache. 

Keep Your Privacy Policy Up To Date

As your business grows and evolves, likely so will your policy. Remember to update your policy frequently. If your policy is years out of date It won’t instill much confidence in new customers. 

If you change the way you collect data or use a new service, update your plan. And even if you’re not making changes, it’s in your best interest to review your policy and update the date at least once a year. 

If you change your website privacy policy, remember to alert users of the change and ask them to renew their consent. 

A privacy policy is legally required for all websites that collect user data. It needs to include how you manage that data, store it, keep it secure, and use it. 

A complete privacy policy for websites and mobile apps is a business necessity you can’t ignore. 

How to write a privacy policy for your website depends on where your customers live and what services you use on your website. You can write it yourself, use a generator, or seek legal counsel.

Ready to create a website that’s secure for your customers? Check out Bluehost’s hosting packages today.

Desiree Johnson
Desiree Johnson | Content Specialist
Desiree Johnson is a Content Specialist at Bluehost where she writes helpful guides and articles, teaches webinars and assists with other marketing and WordPress community work.

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