Why Your Website Most Likely Needs a Privacy Policy and What Must Be In It

Privacy Policy Entrepreneur Small Business Attorney Corporate Lawyer Start-Up Law Firm Start Up San Francisco Bay Area California

The California Online Privacy Protection Act requires a website to “conspicuously post” a privacy policy if it “collects and maintains personally identifiable information from a consumer residing in California.”

“Personally identifiable information” is defined very broadly to include a first and last name, a physical address, an e-mail address, a telephone number, or any other information that permits the contact of an individual.  So, even if you are not selling a product or service, your website will need a privacy policy if visitors can submit their e-mail addresses to receive news and updates from you.

What Must Be In Your Privacy Policy?

If a privacy policy is required, it must contain seven items:

  1. Information Collected – The categories of personal information the website collects.
  2. The categories of third-parties with whom the company shares the information.
  3. How the consumer can review and request changes to their information collected by the company.
  4. How your site responds to do not track indicators from web browsers.
  5. Whether there are third party tracking cookies (or other tracking mechanisms), such as advertising cookies. 
  6. How the company notifies consumers of material changes to its privacy policy.
  7. The effective date of the privacy policy.

Where Should Your Privacy Policy Be Posted?

If you are required to have a privacy policy, it must be “conspicuously posted.”  The policy is conspicuously posted if it:

  1. Appears on the homepage of your website – usually not an aesthetically pleasant option.
  2. The website can have an icon on the home page that contains the word “privacy” – not a bad option.
  3. The most popular option is to have a link at the bottom of the homepage that contains the words “Privacy Policy.”

What Can Happen If You Don’t Have A Privacy Policy?

Under the California Unfair Competition Law, website operators who do not comply with the California Online Privacy Protection Act could be sued by the California Attorney General, District Attorneys, County Counsel, or City Attorneys for “unfair competition.”

There Is Not A Template One Size Fits All Privacy Policy

Privacy policies vary depending on how the website collects and uses consumer information.  The key is to not only make sure the privacy policy complies with the law, but to also have the policy be easy to understand so visitors do not get frustrated with legalese when trying to determine how their personal information is being collected and used by your website.

If you have any questions regarding privacy policies or any other business legal issue, please contact us at (415) 633-6841 or info@bendlawoffice.com.

Disclaimer: This post discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Bend Law Group, PC expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post.

About these ads

About bendlawgroup

Doug is the founder of Bend Law Group, PC, a law firm focused on advising small businesses and startups. He is passionate about providing exceptional legal service to entrepreneurs so they can focus on successfully running their businesses.
This entry was posted in Bend Law Group, PC, Entrepreneur, Legal, Legal, Small Business, Start-Up and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s