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When do Businesses Need Privacy Policies?

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Authored by Tanya Nusser in Business Management 
Published on 08-11-2009

Privacy policies are statements given by a business owner stating the terms and conditions in which their website will distribute personal information from the website’s visitors. If you are a website owner, you might be wondering if your business needs to add a privacy policy to your site. Well, it definitely would not hurt to have one.

By implementing a privacy policy, the website owner can help to protect themselves from lawsuits from individuals who believe that their information was misused. Not having a privacy policy can expose a website to many liabilities. A website without a privacy policy may be putting themselves in a position of liability under state laws that are created specifically to protect the privacy of consumers. If your website collects any kind of information at all from visitors, you need to let those visitors know how you are going to use that information.

There is no law that states what exactly a privacy policy must say, although many of them tend to say about the same thing. The main thing is to make your point as clear as possible. A good privacy policy will identify what types of information your website will collect about the visitor. If you are collecting email addresses, user names, or information through web forms, cookies, etc. there should be an explanation in your privacy policy as to why this information is needed and what exactly is going to be done with this information once the visitor leaves the website. It is also good practice to give a description in detail of the types of information that your servers automatically log about the visitors of your website. Privacy policies are made to be revised and rewritten as the business website changes.

If your website does not collect personal information from its visitors, then a privacy policy may not need to be implemented at all. You may just want to give an email address for customers to use to contact you should they have any questions regarding their privacy while visiting your site.

While a privacy policy is not an absolute necessity in most cases, if your website collects data of any kind, then it may be well worth it to spend the time to put a privacy policy on your website. If your business is on a budget and an attorney is not feasible, there are many acceptable privacy policies available online that are free or very low cost. Do not be tempted to copy and paste your website’s privacy policy from another site however. If a customer does happen to bring about a lawsuit over the issue of privacy, your privacy policy needs to pertain to your website exclusively.

Privacy policies are becoming more and more important for website owners. If your website does not currently have a privacy policy, one can be placed on your site fairly simply and could save your business a lot of hassle in the future.

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