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The Risk of Not Having a Privacy Policy on Your Website

The Risk of Not Having a Privacy Policy on Your Website

Did you know that if your website is missing a privacy policy you could potentially be fined up to $2,500+ per visitor to your site?!

As a business owner, I’m sure the LAST thing you want is to pay even more money to the government… right? I know I don’t!

This is why it’s so important to make sure you know what’s required of your website and make sure that your site is legally squared away from top to bottom.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of what’s required when it comes to a privacy policy on your website, I want you to know that I get it. 

As a business owner, especially if you’re just getting started, you might not pay too much attention to the legal side of things. 

You might file for an LLC, register your business with the state, set up a Quickbooks account, create your website and check things off as done. 

You're finally ready to sell your products or services! But are you… really?!

From my perspective, NO! And here’s why…

If you are selling products or services, tracking your website visitors with cookies, using affiliate marketing or even collecting email addresses, a privacy policy is a REQUIREMENT!

And it’s not just to protect the customer or website visitor - it’s also to protect you as the business owner. 

Something that I want you to know before we go any further into this privacy policy talk is that the legal side of things in your business shouldn’t be viewed as a hang up. Having everything legally set up actually gives you a leg up. 

Instead of facing potential lawsuits or legal challenges, you can get ahead of the curve by making sure all the not-so-fun stuff is taken care of beforehand – and you don’t have to do it alone!

That’s what I’m here for – and don’t worry, I’m not like a regular lawyer. I’m a cool lawyer and in this blog post specifically, I’m helping you tackle the legalities of a privacy policy on your website. 

What Is a Privacy Policy?

First things first, let’s define what exactly a privacy policy is. Although the term “privacy policy” might sound like some scary legal jargon, I promise you it’s really not that complicated. 

A privacy policy is simply a detailed notice that is published on a website, typically found in the footer, that outlines how that specific website collects, uses and manages a user’s personal information.

Most privacy policies are fairly similar and include information such as:

  • A detailed list of what personal information is collected – this typically includes name, email address, phone number, etc. 
  • How that information is collected – this will sometimes vary based on the website and type of business, but information is most commonly collected through opt-in forms (including email sign up forms), product or service checkout pages, cookies for marketing or affiliate purposes 
  • How that information is used – again, this may vary based on the type of business, but you can typically expect this to include processing orders, providing customer service, sending emails or targeting ads
  • How that information is protected – the privacy policy is used to detail what specific security measures you have in place to protect the data from encryption or data breaches 
  • What rights the user has to the information they share – including how they can access, update or delete the information given 

Why Is A Private Policy Important?

Now that you know what exactly a privacy policy is, you might wonder why it really matters. Like yes, it keeps you legally legit, but beyond that why does it matter?

  • Legal Compliance

First up and the most obvious reason is legal compliance.

When you are handling personal information, privacy concerns are HUGE. When users are visiting a website, they typically understand that their information is being tracked, since this is a common scenario in the online world, but they ultimately want to know HOW it’s being used.

A privacy policy is the thing that assures users that you are not improperly using their information and that you are being up front and honest about how it’s being used. 

  • Builds Trust 

Again, it’s pretty well known that our data is being tracked on the Internet. People typically know this, but as a business owner it is still your duty and obligation to be transparent with your website visitors and let them know it’s happening. 

Having a privacy policy on your website shows your users that you take their privacy seriously and you are not using their information improperly.

By being up front about how your website stores and uses their information, you have the opportunity to create another level of trust with your audience and increase their confidence in working with you as a business owner. 

  • Transparent Terms of Usage

One of the core functions of a privacy policy is to outline what exact information your website is collecting and detail how exactly that information will be used. 

People don’t want their name, email, phone number or other personal information being given to just anyone, so they often want to know these terms up front before handing over any personal information to you.

  • Limits Your Liability

Lastly, one of the biggest reasons that a privacy policy matters is because it protects YOU as the business owner!

While it may seem like a hassle to draft up a policy and make sure it’s correctly displayed on your website, it’s actually one of the most simple ways to limit your liability. 

For example, let’s say there is some sort of data breach or other privacy-related issue that happens and someone tries to sue you for privacy concerns. IF you have an accurate and legal privacy policy on your website, that can act as your weapon of defense and keep you from actually being sued. 

An active privacy policy on your site shows that you’ve taken reasonable steps to protect your audience’s data and can often be the thing that saves you from a massive lawsuit.

When Are You Required to Have a Privacy Policy on Your Website?

Now that you know what exactly a privacy policy is and why it really matters, you may be wondering if YOU are specifically required to have one on your website.

To put it simply, if you are collecting any kind of personal information from your website, YES you are required to display a privacy policy. 

A huge misconception is that this is only required if you are selling products and services, but in reality, this applies to ANY type of information that you’re gathering.

Common examples for when a privacy policy is 100% required if you:

  • collect email addresses through an opt-in form
  • have a freebie resource offer that requires an email 
  • have text message marketing and collect phone numbers
  • are building a waitlist  for a future product or service
  • are tracking someones data in order to later run ads
  • are involved with affiliate marketing and track user’s data on a specific landing page 

The list could honestly go on, but my short answer is this: if you have a website, you need a privacy policy!

How To Set Up Your Website Privacy Policy

Now it’s time for you to put this into action!

If you already have a privacy policy, YAY - that makes my lawyer heart happy. 💖 Make sure that it’s currently up to date and if you ever make any changes, notify your current email list so people are aware and you uphold that transparency and trust. 

And if you don’t already have a privacy policy on your website, don’t freak out. Simply take action to change that! To make it easy for you, I’ve created a customizable Website Privacy Policy Template that you grab for under $50. 

$50 now to save you $2500 or MORE in the future? It’s a no brainer!

CLICK HERE to snag the fill in the blank, find and replace style template.

After you edit the template to fit your specific needs, you can simply copy and paste this privacy policy into a separate page that's linked on your site's footer. This template is both GDPR and CCPA compliant, which means that all your bases will be covered!

Here’s to having a legally airtight and oh-so cute website. 👏🏼