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Do I Really Need a Privacy Policy For My Website?

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I hear it so often, “So, do I even need a privacy policy for my website? All I do is collect email addresses and send out emails selling my products or services. Can’t I just copy and paste one from online?” Um, first of all – that would violate U.S. Copyright law. And second, yes! You should strongly consider having a well-written, privacy policy on your site (like this DIY Privacy Policy template I designed just for online entrepreneurs!). Here’s why…

What Is a Privacy Policy?

In short, a privacy policy is a written statement (somewhere on your website) that specifically discloses to your visitors the ways you gather, use, disclose, and manage information about them.

It’s your chance to tell your website visitors or customers…

  • What your cookie policy is
  • How you share & collect customer information
  • How to contact you in the event they want to complain or inquire about their information
  • About your opt-out policy (because CAN-SPAM is alive & well!)
  • How you handle children’s information if you target them as customers
  • How you handle financial/personal info if you run an eCommerce site

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So What Kind of Information Are We Talking About?

Do you collect email addresses on your website for your email list? How about first names? Last names? Birthdays? Addresses? Or any other contact information? That’s “information” folks. This information can come from…

  • Info you collect on your website
  • Info you collect in your email blasts
  • How & what your emails contain to your customers
  • Surveys or research you do

Do I Have to Have a Privacy Policy On My Site?

Yes, no, and maybe. How’s that for an attorney answer? ? At least in the U.S., we don’t have one overarching Federal law that directly applies to website privacy policies (yet). But we do have several Federal laws which do regulate the collection and use of data and online privacy.

Therefore, the sum of all these Federal laws, and any laws your state may have, seem to suggest it’s in your best interest (and perhaps even required) to have a privacy policy on your website.

Depending on where you do business, what type of info you collect, and what type of business you’re in, your state or business activities may require it.  Although you might think it’s optional, it’s very important to protect yourself. Maybe it’s the attorney in me, but I like to err on the side of caution. ☺️

Also, although the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doesn’t require a privacy policy on your site, they DO prohibit deceptive practices. So a well-written, concise, and accurate privacy policy helps protect you from being accused of engaging in deceptive practices by clearly outlining your online business practices to your visitors and customers.

Some states (like California) also require you have a privacy policy if you collect any information from that state’s residents online. If you have a website online, I’d be willing to bet that California residents visit your site.

And it’s not just lip service to your clients or visitors, either! You need to make sure that you actually do (or don’t do) what you say in your privacy policy, or you could face hefty legal fees down the line. You should also take reasonable steps to protect your visitors/customers information to protect yourself (the best you can) in the event of a breach or lawsuit. Your privacy policy is the perfect place to explain to your visitors exactly what steps those are you take.

Finally, if you do any affiliate marketing or selling, your affiliate vendor may require you to have specific language in your site’s privacy policy. And yes, that means they require that you even have a privacy policy in the first place! You don’t want to get cut off from affiliate marketing.

Why Can’t I Just Cut & Paste One From Online?

Remember that whole copyright law thing we talked about? Yeah, that’s at play. Plus, the privacy policies that are generated online are typically one-size-fits-all. They don’t take into account all of the things you are or aren’t doing on your site to collect, distribute, or sell your customers data.

However, the important thing is that your privacy policy is accurate.  Not just that you slap one up on your site. It’s not worth the page it’s published on if it’s not accurate and complete. That’s why I created this DIY Privacy Policy template for you. It’s got the nuts & bolts you need, with fill-in-the-blanks to make it apply to you + your business in just a few minutes.

How Can I Get an Affordable Privacy Policy?

I have a DIY Privacy Policy template design just for YOU! I designed it specifically with coaches, entrepreneurs, creatives, and bloggers in mind. All you have to do is fill in the information in the blanks that are specific to your business. I’ll even explain, in non-legal speak, what each section of the privacy policy is so you can own it and really make it your own. You’re free to use it across as many sites as you own!

But please remember…
Use of this information or any other products on samvanderwielen.com do not establish an attorney-client relationship between you and Sam. The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. Always work with a local attorney licensed in your state where you live and do business to be sure you are in compliance with your state and local laws. Sam is licensed to practice law in the State of New Jersey.

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