Website privacy policies: do you really need one?

Website privacy policies: do you really need one?

We won’t make you wait for the answer for this topic. If your business has a website, you really need a privacy policy. In some cases it’s essential, in others it’s one of those ‘better safe than sorry’ features.

First, let’s quickly define a website privacy policy. Essentially a privacy policy is a statement which tells the user what information you’re collecting from them, how you’re collecting it and what you intend to do with it.

They should also tell the user how long you’re keeping the information and in some cases where it will be stored. In the information age, data is very valuable. So a privacy policy is also important from the user’s point of view as to whether you’re trustworthy enough to be given their information.

They should also include a statement about who can access the information collected, how to do so, and provide contact details if the user wants more information. You also need to consider providing users with an opt-out if they don’t agree with the policy.

Finally, your policy should be written in plain English so it’s absolutely transparent about your intentions. Now we’ll get to the reasons why you need one.

1. You can save yourself from messy, expensive litigation

You need to take more into consideration than New Zealand’s Privacy Act 1993 if you have a website. Starting here, The Privacy Act 1993 governs how businesses collect and store information about customers. If you use your website this way, you need a privacy policy. If you are doing this and don’t have a privacy policy, get one immediately.

There are new data privacy regulations popping up all the time all over the world and you need to consider these too. Overlooking putting a privacy policy into your website is just asking for trouble.

2. Many third party website tools require you to have a privacy policy

Any third party tool you use to collect information about your website will also require you to have a privacy policy. Third party tools include chat widgets, online forms, website analytics and others. In its terms of use, Google Analytics specifically has a requirement that you have a privacy policy.

3. Not having one may prevent you from using other services

There are many other online services which require you to have a privacy policy if you’re collecting information from users. Two of the most important are Google and Facebook. If you use Facebook Lead Ads, you also need a hyperlink in every ad to your privacy policy.

Okay, by now you should be fully aware that you need a privacy policy. Aside from the legal reasons, it’s just good practice to have one. If you need any help with getting a privacy policy or getting one included in your website, feel free to get in touch.

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