Tips for writing and keeping privacy policies

Between Andrew and myself we have written on privacy issues twice this week already. Since we have been talking about so many privacy problems, I figured it is time to talk about a few privacy solutions. Many of our readers find the thought of writing a business document, particularly a legal business document like a privacy policy, to be very intimidating. Further, many businesses simply copy some other company’s generic privacy policy and then fail to keep it. So, if you find yourself among the intimidated here are a few facts about privacy policies and several tips for writing them.

Lets start with a little True of False quiz (just to warm you up); the answers will be listed at the bottom of the post:

1. Having and displaying a privacy policy is legally required. True or False.

2. Having and displaying a privacy policy is a requirement to be listed with the Better Business Bureau. True or False.

3. The legal holding of the case, Federal Trade Commission v. GeoCities, states that it is an unfair and deceptive trade practice to break one’s privacy policy. True or False.

TIPS for writing and posting a privacy policy:

1. Consider using a privacy policy generator to help you get started. (You can find many online including those listed here http://www.the-dma.org/privacy/privacypolicygenerator.shtml).

2. Keep the privacy policy short.

3. Write in layman’s terms. Avoid lawyer speak.

4. Incorporate the privacy policy page into the rest of the site (i.e. same voice, same colors, same font style).

5. Keep the privacy policy link easy to access. (i.e. Most companies, including this one, provide a link in the footer bar).

Before writing and then posting your privacy policy take some time to consider the following:

1. What type of information must you gather from customers?

2. What will you do with the information you gather?

3. What promises will you make to others regarding the way you gather and use this private information?

4. Are you positive that you can keep any and all promises made?

5. If not, how must you change the privacy policy to ensure that you are making no promises you are not positive you can keep?

Happy privacy policy posting!

*Answers to the T or F Quiz: False, True, True

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