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Privacy Policy to Build Consumer Trust

By Eric Misterovich

If you have an online website or business, a privacy policy is a must. These legal notices generally outline how your website visitors’ personal information is used. For example, many websites collect IP addresses and later sell them to third parties. If you do not sell your information to a third-party, great! But, consumers want to know that. And, in today’s “connected’ world, they are demanding privacy more and more.

What is a privacy policy?

A privacy policy simply discloses the website owner’s intent. People are entitled to know where their information will go once it travels through their computer and into the interweb. For example, is your website dropping “cookies” to keep track of visitor activity? Though cookies generally allow users to save login information and therefore serve a legitimate purpose, such information should appear in a privacy policy.

What is the risk in not having a privacy policy?

Photo credit: Yuri Samoilov

Many jurisdictions require privacy policies for websites on which secure transactions are completed. For example, an online retailer’s privacy policy would assure visitors that their private information will not be sold if they choose to buy products on the site. Consumers are entitled to know their address, phone number, and credit card information is secure. Many consumers know to trust only secure websites, and your privacy policy is the place to display a secure transaction “trust badge”. And, if in a regulated industry, the law may require that you display a privacy policy on your website. Failure to do so may result in fines or suspension of your business license.

While shopping websites and others such as medical and banking are required by law to maintain a privacy policy, other industries are not so regulated. Nevertheless, every business with a website should have a privacy policy. For example, the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM) requires email marketers to allow customers to opt-out of receiving emails, and your privacy page should include opt-out instructions.

What should my privacy policy include?

 Every industry and each website within it will require a different privacy policy. Further, a poorly written privacy policy is like not having one at all. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to remember when creating yours.

  • Do not simply cut and paste a privacy policy from another website. Each company uses customer information in a different way;
  • Do not use business slang that customers may not understand. For example, explain that “cookies” are used to remember customer login information;
  • Do not write your own privacy policy yourself unless you have experience in writing them; and,
  • Do include the processes your business actually follows (not the ones you hope to follow);

By explaining what data you are collecting, you are not just playing it safe, you are treating your consumers with respect. This will help earn and build trust among your consumers.

Again, every privacy policy is unique. For more information about creating an effective privacy policy, contact Revision Legal’s Internet attorneys through the form on this page or call 855-473-8474

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