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The privacy policy is one of the most essential legal requirements for websites.

Even if you just have a small business or a blog with no income at all, you might be surprised to discover that you still need a privacy policy.

Basically, if your website collects personal data, you need a privacy policy that informs your users about this according to privacy laws in most jurisdictions, including the EU and the US.

Almost all modern websites function with the use of cookies, so chances are high that your website is collecting personal data, for example for statistical, functional or marketing purposes.

Learn what the privacy policy is and how to get one for your website below.

What is a privacy policy?


A privacy policy is a document that states what personal data you collect from your users, why, and how you keep it private.

The purpose of the privacy policy is to inform your users about how their data is being handled.

Hence, the privacy policy should be accessible for your users and kept in a plain and readable language.

Most countries have privacy laws requiring that websites collecting personal data have a proper privacy policy in place.

Failure to comply can result in heavy fines and even prosecution.

What is personal data?

Personal data is information that can identify an individual, either directly or when combined with other data.

Names, e-mails, addresses, localisation, IP-addresses, photos, and account information all are directly identifying data.

Health information, income, religion and cultural profiles and the like is also personal data.

Furthermore, and crucial in the present context, data on user behaviour is also personal. Cookies can track and register individual users’ browsing activities, like what articles they scroll past and which ones they choose to click on.

Do I need a privacy policy for my website?


You probably do. If your website collects personal data, you need a privacy policy.

Most websites collect user data. Often, it happens without the website owner even being aware of it, by means of cookies.

If your website is hosted, or if you use plugins, social media-buttons, analytics tools and the like on your website, then it does set cookies and collect user data.

With the enforcement of the GDPR and the EU ePrivacy regulation, a proper privacy policy is adamant for websites in the EU and websites that have EU-citizens amongst their users.

If you are in doubt about the use of cookies on your website, you can try and take an audit of your website here for free.

The free audit scans five pages of your website and sends you a report of the cookies and online tracking on these pages, including information on their provenance, purpose and whether or not they are compliant.

If you want a complete overview of the cookies and online tracking going on on all of your website, sign up to the Cookiebot solution.

How can I get a privacy policy on my website?


The privacy policy can be written as an independent page on your website, and be made accessible as a link in the header or footer of your website, or on your ‘About’ page.

It may also be hosted by a privacy policy-service with a link from your homepage.

Basically, it doesn’t matter where you choose to place it, as long as your users have access to it.

The privacy policy is a legal text. The phrasing depends on which jurisdictions your website falls under and how your website handles data.

All websites are different. We always recommend that you consult a lawyer to ensure that your privacy policy is compliant with all applicable laws.

However, this might seem as a large expense if you are, for instance, a hobby blogger or small business.

What you should never do, is to copy a privacy policy from some other website.

GDPR compliant privacy policy templates, samples & generators

There exists numerous tools for creating privacy policies, and privacy policy templates and generators on the internet.

Some are free and others come at a price.

Check out this useful list of privacy policy generators.

Please accept marketing-cookies to watch this video.

TermsFeed is one provider of online privacy policies. In this video, they explain why you need a privacy policy in a simple and comprehensible manner in 1:40 minutes.

However, if you use a generator, be sure to consider carefully all of the information to include in your policy and edit the template accordingly.

Having an incorrect privacy policy is as bad, if not worse, as not having one at all.

Also, be sure to do your research on all applicable laws and requirements.

Be aware that some geographically defined laws can, in practice, be global.

For example, The EU General Data Protection Regulation regards not only websites operated from the EU, but also all websites in the world, that have visitors from the EU.

Requirements for a GDPR and ePrivacy compliant privacy policy

Article 12 of the GDPR requires that you communicate information about your processing of personal data in a way that is:

In general, most privacy laws require you to inform your users about the following:

Privacy policy and cookies


Cookies usually are the trickiest part of making your website compliant with regulations for privacy and data protection.

Most of the other data collection activities going on in connection to your website are both static and visible: The contact form or newsletter-subscription only changes if you actively make changes to it, and the user is aware of giving personal information when they chose to fill them out.

Cookies, on the other hand, operate in the background.

They are quietly dropped on the user’s computer without the user (or sometimes even the website owner, for that sake) being aware of what is going on.

Once dropped, the cookies can collect a lot of different types of data for any given length of time, and send this data out ‘into the world’.

Moreover, cookies are numerous and dynamic, tending to change often.

The General Data Protection Regulation requires that the communication about the use of data is both specific and accurate.

This means, in practice, that whereas the remainder of the privacy policy may be a static document, the section on cookies should be updated fairly regularly.

This issue can be solved if you choose a cookie solution like Cookiebot for your website.

Cookiebot performs monthly scans of your website, giving a complete overview of the cookies in use.

This information is 1) sent to the website owner, 2) presented to the user in a comprehensive consent banner upon their first visit, and, lastly, but most important in the present context, can be integrated as part of your privacy policy with a few lines of Javascript.

This way, you can make sure that your information on cookies is continually up to date.

Resources


Blogpost: Have a Website? You Need a Privacy Policy. Here’s Why
GDPR: Definitions
World Map of Data Protection
The Best 12 Privacy Policy Generators Online
Blogpost: Five Reasons why Copying Someone Else's Privacy Policy is a Bad Idea
How To Add a Privacy Policy in WordPress
Instagram’s Privacy policy rewritten for kids

FAQ


Can I get a privacy policy plugin for my WordPress site?

You may use the useful instructions on the blog WPbeginner as a starting point for adding a Privacy Policy page to your WordPress site.

Where can I find a EU and UK compliant privacy policy template?

A quick research on the internet will lead you to a vast selection of privacy policy templates and generators, some of which are free.

Check out this list of privacy policy generators.

However, if you use a generator, be sure to check that it complies with the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the ePrivacy Directive. These laws are applicable not only to websites operated from the EU, but also all websites in the world, that have visitors from the EU.

What is the privacy policy of WordPress?

WordPress is both a code for building websites, and a hosting service for blogs and websites.

They have distinct privacy policies.

Read the privacy policy of the WordPress code here, and for the WordPress hosting here.

What is Google’s privacy policy?

See Google’s Privacy Policy.

What is Facebook’s privacy policy?

You can read Facebook's privacy policy here.

What is the privacy policy of Uber?

See Uber’s privacy policy.

What is the privacy policy of Apple?

You may read the Privacy policy of Apple here.

What is the privacy policy of Instagram?

See Instagram’s Privacy policy.

Also check out Instagram’s Privacy policy rewritten for kids.

More than half of 12- to 15-year-olds in Britain are on Instagram. So are 43% of the 8- to 11-year-olds. But how many of them understand what they signed when they joined? Next to none.

A lawyer took up the challenge and rewrote the privacy policy of Instagram, so that kids and parents can have a meaningful conversation about what happens with personal data on the internet.

It’s an interesting read for adults as well.

What is the privacy policy of Snapchat?

Read Snapchat’s Privacy Policy.

What is the privacy policy of Twitter?

See the Privacy Policy of Twitter.

What is the privacy policy of Ebay?

Here is the link for Ebay’s Privacy Policy.

What is the privacy policy of At&T?

At&T Privacy Policy.

What is the privacy policy of Yahoo?

See Yahoo’s Privacy Policy.

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