Seen clearly in the near-constant expansions and revisions of privacy regulations, it’s no secret that privacy demands are rapidly expanding. This leads to privacy documents previously left to the wayside gaining newfound legal prominence – chief amongst them currently being Privacy Policies. Whether it’s a new business, or an established one, privacy regulations are evolving and Privacy Policies need to adapt to keep relevancy. With that in mind, now is a great time to consider thoroughly evaluating your company’s privacy policy; in that interest, here are some considerations for forming a policy fit to modern criteria

Before we dive too deep into the weeds of what constitutes a solid Privacy Policy, let’s take a moment to define what exactly a Privacy Policy is and the purpose it serves to businesses. Essentially, a Privacy Policy is a legal document that details the information you collect on users, the purpose and methods of that collection, and the means by which that information will be processed or sold. What constitutes “personal” information varies by regulation, but a nice rule-of-thumb is that if the data can be used to personally identify an individual (things like names, addresses, emails, or age) it’s safe to consider it personal data. In terms of purpose, these policies primarily exist to protect customer privacy rights and to encourage transparency and consumer trust in businesses. And past these conceptual benefits lies one critical, tangible one for businesses – reducing legal liability in an increasingly privacy-concerned world. Crucial in seeing those benefits, however, is the comprehensiveness of the policy. Let’s touch on what it takes to get a Privacy Policy to that standard.

To meet the growing demands for quick Privacy Policy generation, a number of Privacy Policy generators have seen heavy use. As regulations require increasing amounts of specificity from the policies, however, consider ditching generic generators. A privacy policy should be specifically crafted for your company. It should be an intricate and intentional guide for how you agree to not only protect your clients, but ultimately how you will protect your company as well. Generators can help you become compliant with general state laws, but many fail to generate a policy that’s designed to meet the individual needs of a company.  Where these generated policies start to struggle are in meeting the specialized, evolving requirements of developing international Privacy Laws, like GDPR or ADPPA. Even if a generator could produce policies at such a specific level, it would require entering in a boatload of proprietary information to a potentially unscreened vendor – which is generally not a good idea.

Quite a few factors go into forming a solid Privacy Policy today – here are a few general areas to look at when forming yours:

  • Identify What’s Collected: Conduct an audit to determine what type of personal data is collected, where it rests and moves, how it’s protected, and what’s ultimately done with it. This stage is critical and should be conducted with care; you can only report what you know.
  • Identify Relevant Regulations: To follow the rules you need to know what they are – take a look at any regulations that might apply to you based on your areas/means of operation. Pay special attention to evolving regulations – standards like ADPPA, CPRA, GDPR, or PIPEDA. 
  • Adaptability: Both your business and regulations evolve over time, and requirements will shift as this occurs. A solid privacy policy needs to be able to be quickly adapted to meet these requirements as they come – this often requires some forethought into the design of data handling as well as the organization of the policy itself.
  • Comprehensive yet Comprehensible Rights: The policy should outline the rights and allowances provided to consumers. Consider their options for opting out of collection, requesting deletions of existing data, viewing how they’re tracked, and what the implications of exercising these rights are and aren’t. An important quality to keep in mind, however, is that the policy should be written in a way typical users can understand and placed in a place they can find it. Avoid legalese for the sake of clarity, where possible – it’s hard to justify rights provided to customers if their means to exercise them is obfuscated.

Following those general guidelines above will go a long way in defining the specific technical and organizational components of drafting a solid, modern Privacy Policy. If the process sounds tricky that’s because it typically is – modern compliance is a moving target, and a good deal of care is required to stay on track. This makes it a great time to build strong privacy foundations, and don’t hesitate to seek help from consultancies or privacy experts if needed – investments in a robust Privacy Policy now will pay dividends in risk control and compliance efforts to come.

Need help building a Privacy Policy for your business? Let CyberData Pros conduct a privacy assessment and tailor a Privacy Policy to fit your privacy posture. Contact us now for a free consultation and to learn more about our services.