Summer 2018
Legal Corner: Respect My Privacy By Angie Avard-Turner

In the last issue I discussed Terms and Conditions and their importance in retail and online. Privacy Policies are the first cousin to Terms and Conditions. They serve many purposes to protect both the customer and the business owner. Regardless of how your online business operates, a Privacy Policy is one of the most important legal agreements businesses need to have visible on their site. There are many reasons that may be considered, however I have chosen to focus on the top four reasons.

The law requires it

The most important reason you must have a Privacy Policy on your website is because the law requires that you do. Most business owners are not aware of that fact. However, ignorance is not defense of the law. The law requires that if you collect data from those who visit your website, you are required to disclose to them what information you are collecting and how you will use that information. There are several federal laws that require disclosing how a business owner collects data and how they use it.

  • The Americans With Disability Act
  • The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984
  • The Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2001 (updated 2013)
  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986
  • The Computer Security Act of 1997
  • The Consumer Credit Reporting Control Act and other state laws, most notably the California Online Privacy Protection Act. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the governing body that regulates protection of data collected from all consumers.

There are not only laws in the U.S., but there are laws in other countries that require disclosure of how data is collected and used.

Third- Party Services the Business Owner Uses May Require It

Once you enter the world of online retail, there is a myriad of concepts that are novel to the business owner that must be understood and ultimately mastered. One of those areas is using third-party services. Third-party services come in all shapes in sizes. You are probably using them and do not even realize that is what they are called. Do you use Stripe, PayPal, Google AdWords or Google Analytics? Then you are using a third-party service, congratulations! Many of these third-party services are beginning to require that the business owners that use their services have Privacy Policies. They are even requiring that certain terms are included in your Privacy Policy.

Consumers Care About Their Information and Privacy

In this day and time, people want to know what you are doing with their information. Why do you need it? What will you do with it? Will someone else have access to it? Consumers want to feel secure when they are purchasing online. By posting a Privacy Policy you are giving the answers to those questions fostering trust between you and the customer. By publishing a Privacy Policy on your site, you are being transparent and showing the customer that you are not hiding anything. You are demonstrating that you have protocols and procedures in place to handle their information. Although it may not seem very fun or creative, you can use your Privacy Policy to your advantage. This is another way you can show your customers that you are thoughtful, thorough, and that you care about educating them on how their information will be used when they visit your site.

Privacy Policies are everywhere

Even if you don’t collect any personal information about your customers, you should state that you do not. It is okay to state the obvious, as maybe it is not so obvious to others. By doing so, you are putting your customers at ease.

So where should my Privacy Policy be placed on my website? Privacy Policies are typically placed in the footer of the website. This should be clear and visible on all pages of your website even if your website is live, but you have completed it. If you are developing an app in conjunction with your website, you can include a “Legal Info” button that links to your Privacy Policy and/or your Terms and Conditions.

Another way to engage customers is to have what is called a click wrap agreement. Basically, these types of agreements state that the customer acknowledges by clicking “I agree” that they have read and acknowledge the terms of the agreement. This can be applied the Privacy Policy, the Terms and Conditions or both. By engaging the consumer to actively acknowledge your Privacy Policy, you are adding a layer of protection for your business, as this will make that agreement easier to enforce if that becomes necessary.

Privacy Policies are not only required by the law, they provide valuable information to your customers. As always, if you are unsure of how to proceed with having a Privacy Policy drafted or what terms should be included, it is always wise and prudent to speak to a licensed attorney that can advise you in e-commerce law.

DISCLAIMER: The materials available in this article are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website do not create an attorney-client relationship between Angie Avard Turner Law and the user or browser.

Angie Avard-Turner

Angie Avard Turner is an attorney who exclusively represents clients in the gift industry including retailers, wholesalers, artists, and bloggers.  She is licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia, but she is able to handle copyright and trademark issues nationally.  For more information regarding her practice, visit www.angieavardturnerlaw.com.




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