The short answer is: Yes, you should have a privacy policy for your website.

Consumers are more concerned than ever about the privacy of their data, especially considering the increase in data breaches this year.

According to a 2019 mid-year assessment conducted by RiskBased Security, data breaches exposed more than 4.1 billion records. That includes financial and healthcare institutions, government agencies, tech companies and a host of other businesses.

And lawmakers are paying attention, passing regulations to protect consumers at the state and federal levels. So it’s not only a good idea for anyone with a website to post a privacy policy to protect themselves and their customers’ data. In many cases, it’s mandatory.

Who Needs a Privacy Policy, and Why

Think of the last time you made an online purchase, or registered to create an account, and the wealth of sensitive data you provided. That personal information often includes:

  • names and addresses
  • credit card billing information
  • phone numbers and email addresses
  • dates of birth
  • social security numbers
  • drivers license numbers
  • purchase histories, and more…

Any digital platform that collects personal information from its users or customers requires a privacy policy — websites, ecommerce platforms, online forms, chat or messaging apps, and social media platforms. In some cases, as with Google and Facebook, you may be required to submit a privacy policy before you can run a digital ad campaign on their networks.

What’s In a Privacy Policy

In general, a privacy policy explains what kind of data you collect, and how you intend to use it. But they’re typically much more detailed, and may include:

  • how you collect data — forms, cookies, etc.
  • how and where you store customer data
  • how long you keep that data on file
  • how customers can access their data
  • security measures you’ve put in place to protect customers’ data

You may not be required to post all of these, depending on the locations where you collect data, but it’s a good idea to cover all the bases. Being thorough with your privacy policy can also strengthen customer relationships by demonstrating your willingness to be transparent, and giving them peace of mind.

Privacy Policy Accessibility

Privacy laws require your policy to be easy for customers to find, access and understand. The link should be clearly visible to all website visitors. The most common location for privacy policy links is in a website’s footer navigation.