Legal Guide

Privacy Policies: What Entrepreneurs Should Know

When you launch a website or app you are probably not thinking about legal issues, but you should. Depending on what your website or app does, you may need legal terms to protect you. (Related: Learn about Terms of Service in this guide.)

 

What is a Privacy Policy

A Privacy Policy is just that – a policy that dictates how you handle user privacy. Most policies will explain what information you collect about a user and how you use that information. And if you collect personally identifiable information, you should elaborate on how you might use that information as well.

 

Why You Might Need a Privacy Policy

While Privacy Policies are not universally required, the trend is clearly going in that direction. Certain countries require them, and in the U.S., some states now require them. And in either event, having (and following) a privacy policy can reduce your risk. Moreover, most reputable online tools today will require you to have a Privacy Policy if you are going to use their tools in connection to data you collect from your website or application.

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What to Include in Your Privacy Policy

Here are some things you might consider including in your policy:

  • Disclosure of the types of information you collect automatically (analytics tracking information, etc.).
  • Disclosure of the types of personal information you collect (names, emails, etc.)
  • A description of how you use the data you collect (including how you use personal information) and a consent from the user to those uses (for example, improving the website, contacting them, serving ads, etc.)
  • If you provide or sell any data to third parties, a disclosure of that practice.
  • If you accept payment on your website, terms regarding how their payment information is used.
  • Consent from the user to disclose user information to law enforcement and other government entities.
  • And last but definitely not least, a section detailing how you can amend the Privacy Policy (in most cases, you will retain the right to unilaterally amend the terms, provided you send users advance notice).

 

Smart Next Step for Your Business

There are a lot of ways to get legal terms for your your startup or small business. You can write your own, use language from other websites (but don’t commit copyright infringement), use an online terms generator, or hire a startup lawyer to help you. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but I obviously think engaging a startup lawyer is the safest way to get your legal terms.

(This article is general in nature and is not legal advice.)

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