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Privacy policy

A privacy policy is a statement or legal document (in privacy law) that discloses some or all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses, and manages a customer or client's data. Personal information can be anything that can be used to identify an individual, not limited to the person's name, address, date of birth, marital status, contact information, ID issue, and expiry date, financial records, credit information, medical history, where one travels, and intentions to acquire goods and services. In the case of a business, it is often a statement that declares a party's policy on how it collects, stores, and releases personal information it collects. It informs the client what specific information is collected, and whether it is kept confidential, shared with partners, or sold to other firms or enterprises. Privacy policies typically represent a broader, more generalized treatment, as opposed to data use statements, which tend to be more detailed and specific.

Privacy Laws in the US

CalOPPA is one of the strictest privacy laws in the US. It affects anyone who collects personal information from people residing in California, which means its reach goes far beyond state borders. While CalOPPA is strict, it isn't overly complicated to comply with. Having a Privacy Policy is its key requirement.

CalOPPA classifies "personally identifiable information" as:

  • First and last names
  • Physical addresses
  • Email addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Any other contact information shared with a business either physically or online
  • Birthdates
  • Details of physical appearance (height, weight, hair color)
  • Any other information stored online that may identify an individual

Privacy Laws in the EU

On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaced the existing EU Data Protection Directive which had been enforced since 1995. The EU Data Protection Directive regulated the gathering and handling of personal information in the EU and protects it from misuse. It demanded that all companies operating from an EU country must have a Privacy Policy.

GDPR

The GDPR requires all companies operating in the EU as well as foreign companies that handle personal data of people located in the EU to have a Privacy Policy. This is part of its goal to make sure personal information is both obtained and processed fairly.

The GDPR applies to both EU businesses as well as international businesses collecting personal data from users located within the EU.

What to Include in a Privacy Policy

The content of Privacy Policies varies from one business to another. How a website collects and manages information, and how it interacts with third parties is unique to every company. Additionally, where a website's users live can impact the company's Privacy Policy because of international laws protecting global consumers.

Business Name and Contact Details

Your Privacy Policy needs to contain your official business name and contact information.

Types of Personal Data You Collect

You are required to disclose the various types of personal data you collect from users both directly and indirectly.

Why You Collect Personal Data

Privacy laws require you to collect only the personal data you need, and to explain why you need it.

How the Data is Used

How you use the data you collect is another important component of every Privacy Policy.

Using a list format helps you convey a lot of information in a more organized way, which is important in order to keep your Privacy Policy easily readable by a general audience. Make sure to include as many specific ways as possible that you use the data.

How You Share Data with Third Parties

Most websites use one or more third party tools to enhance site performance and user experience. Examples might include Google Analytics to understand website visitors, or AdSense for personalized advertising. Most sites also use cookies, which are technical tools that record user behavior to personalize their web experience. All instances of third party data sharing must be explained in your Privacy Policy, and you should provide links to those third party companies' policies as well.

How to Opt Out of Data Collection

Your Privacy Policy must include instructions for opting out of ongoing data collection, as well as for getting a copy of any data already collected.