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Karen Lombardo

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What is a Privacy Policy, and Do I Need One?
General News and Information / putanotherwayllc / Website Content

What is a Privacy Policy, and Do I Need One?

Mar 18, 2024

Many overlook the importance of a website’s privacy policy, but it’s crucial. During our website development process, when addressing content creation, we emphasize the significance of a privacy policy to our clients. Their reactions vary, including inquiries about copying our policy, whether AI can generate one for them, and questioning its necessity.

To dispel any myths, I decided to seek assistance from my law firm, Harter, Secrest & Emery, LLP, based in Rochester, New York. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude for this contribution to Daniel J. Altieri, a partner specializing in the Privacy and Data Security practice. Dan has been instrumental in advising on best practices for preventing data breaches, ensuring regulatory compliance, conducting risk assessments, managing post-incident responses, and handling due diligence during acquisitions, among other critical issues. I also extend my heartfelt appreciation to Vittoria L. Buzzelli, an associate in the firm’s corporate practice. Vittoria’s dedication to supporting the success of small businesses has been invaluable.

What is a Website Privacy Policy?

A website Privacy Policy explains to users of a website the company’s data collection practices, including how data is collected, used, and stored. A Privacy Policy typically includes the following provisions, but any such topics are ultimately dependent upon applicable law that may apply to the organization in question:

  • The types of data a company collects (this may include personal information like name and email, as well as non-personal information like browser and IP address)
  • How a company uses data
  • Who a company shares user data with
  • Users’ rights with respect to their personal information
  • Information about cookies and tracking technologies
  • How updates can be made to the policy
  • Who to contact at the company regarding its data protection practices

Companies, however, should be careful to maintain a Privacy Policy that accounts for all of their information collection and handling practices, including those that exist outside the operation of their websites.

Why do I need a Privacy Policy?

All companies should implement a Privacy Policy. A Privacy Policy serves important legal and best practice functions.  Having a privacy policy in place increases transparency, thereby building trust and goodwill among consumers and lends legitimacy to a business’s website.  Further, a formal Privacy Policy may be required by certain data privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and new laws and pending laws in other jurisdictions such as Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, and Virginia. With changes in the regulatory privacy space occurring frequently, it is becoming increasingly riskier for companies not to have a Privacy Policy in place or to have one that does not account for the proper topics.

How do I get a Privacy Policy?

A Privacy Policy should be clearly drafted, tailored to the specific company publishing it, and user-friendly. However, in order to have a Privacy Policy that is compliant with all applicable laws, it is vital to engage an experienced lawyer who can address compliance with specific jurisdictional requirements. A Privacy Policy is typically fairly low-cost to implement through legal counsel while yielding a positive impact on overall data security practices and compliance, meaning it is well worth the trade-off for most businesses.

Let’s create your website the right way!

A great website provides a user-friendly interface that is easy and intuitive to navigate and responsive across all devices, from desktops to smartphones. It also offers a privacy policy to ensure compliance with legal requirements and build trust with all visitors about how and what you do with their personal information.

At The Virtual Copywriter, we want to build beautiful, engaging, and compliant websites. Feel free to contact us to discuss your next project, and contact the professionals at Harter Secrest & Emery LLP for any of your business legal needs.  You will be in great hands.

Founded in 1894, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP is a full-service law firm providing legal services to clients ranging from individuals and family-owned businesses to Fortune 100 companies and major regional institutions with offices in Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, Corning, and New York City, New York. The information contained within does not represent legal advice.  Please consult with your attorney.

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