How A Privacy Policy Can Protect You & Your Users

Linkilaw Ecommerce, Internet Security, Internet Technology, Terms and Conditions

Now more than ever, businesses are enthusiastically embracing the Internet as a medium to connect with regular users and engage with potential clients. Business websites will often publicly advertise services and qualities for marketing purposes, while withholding certain information can maintain a competitive edge. A privacy policy is not only important, it is necessary. Failure to create a privacy policy is illegal as such a policy should be adopted to ensure that personal information gathered through communication is protected in order to safeguard trade secrets and maintain customers’ privacy. The extent to which personal information will be protected from public consumption depends on the method of privacy policy adopted by the individual business.

 

What is a privacy policy?

A privacy policy will outline how and why a party gathers, shares, uses and manages a client’s data, whether for personal or business purposes. Personal data may include a client’s name, address, date of birth, marital status, contact information, financial records, medical history or travel history to allow the business to better understand a client’s personal needs and expectations. A privacy policy displays to users and potential clients how such information gathered will be collected and stored and whether such -potentially sensitive- information will be released within the business or shared with third parties. A comprehensive privacy policy will ensure that clients are aware of the extent of privacy, or lack thereof, they will enjoy whilst accessing a business’s Internet services. A privacy policy is essential to maintaining transparency and trust in a long-lasting business relationship by ensuring that users are confident in disclosing personal information through the Internet for business purposes.

 

How can a privacy policy protect a user?

By accessing or subscribing to a business’s web services, a customer will be consenting to the website’s privacy policy. Therefore, it is essential that a business’s privacy policy protects its users and does not infringe on their privacy. Web users should feel safe to access a website and receive services from a website without compromising their privacy, and a privacy policy can outline the extent to which a customer will be protected. A privacy policy may safeguard personal information from ever being shared with the public or a third-party or specify that information will only be shared following the customer giving consent.

 

How can a privacy policy protect a business owner?

Whilst much discussion regarding privacy policies centers on protecting the customer, an effective privacy policy can protect a business as well as its clients. A sensitive privacy policy will undoubtedly maintain confidence and longevity in a relationship between a business and clients, but this effect benefits both the client and the business. Facebook and Google, two of most recognisable and popular Internet-based businesses that rely on collecting user data, have received criticism and backlash following a change in their privacy policies or a perceived failure to comply with the provisions in their privacy policies.  By abiding by a favourable privacy policy that protects client information, a business can ensure that clients are comfortable regularly engaging with their web-based services without facing such criticism or backlash.

 

A personalised privacy policy can also enhance a business’s performance against competitors by allowing the business to withhold information that, if released, could jeopardise its image or profitability. An accordingly executed privacy policy can enable a business to keep sensitive business information – such as a secret recipe or a future prototype – private from the public, including competitors. By regulating what business information can be accessed through a personalised privacy policy, companies can maintain a competitive advantage by keeping trade secrets and future plans confidential. The effect of a privacy policy in allowing businesses to withhold certain information can also enhance a business’s marketing advantage; a privacy policy can ensure that only information that has been confirmed as suitable for public consumption can be accessed. Ensuring that only information intended for public consumption is released will enable a business to monitor their intended image and professionalism.

 

What happens if you don’t have a privacy policy?

Failure to provide a privacy policy will prevent customers from being in a position to know what personal information is being shared and gathered. This is illegal and could open your business up to litigation and criticism. Linkilaw aims to make the law accessible and develop the public’s awareness of their legal rights, and this aim can be reached with businesses adopting clear privacy policies. Failure to have a privacy policy or using a generic privacy policy could infringe customers’ rights to privacy and threaten the security of trade secrets.

Whilst there is no template for a privacy policy, it must comply with the legal requirements of a company’s jurisdiction, which could be laid out in directives, legislation or principles upheld in court. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) aims to promote openness by businesses and maintain individual data privacy. The ICO offers a service to address concerns regarding a company’s potential misuse of personal information and offers advice on how to request your personal information, access information from a public body, raise a concern with an organisation, claim compensation or check that your information is being handled correctly.

 

Linkilaw can navigate the legal framework and create a privacy policy to ensure that your business is trustworthy and competitive. It isn’t unusual to be unaware of your privacy rights as a business or a user, so if you’d like to speak to our legal experts in matters regarding privacy policies, get in touch now for your free quote.

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