Website Privacy Policy Contract Drafting Sample

traverselegal - January 13, 2012 - Internet Law, Website Privacy Policy Contract


Many clients want to know whether or not they should use a website agreement forms service, cut and paste their competitors’ website agreement for use on their site or whether they should start from scratch and have their website agreements specifically customized towards their website and the way they conduct business on the internet.

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Welcome to Internet Law Radio.  My name is Attorney Enrico Schaefer.  I specialize in internet law, including website agreement drafting, privacy policies, terms of service, terms of use and other web related contracts.  Today, we’re going to be talking about website privacy policy drafting tips.

Every website should have a privacy policy.  In fact, the law requires you to have a website privacy policy.  In many states, there are statutes which govern privacy policy standards and requirements.  So, everyone who launches a website who’s going to be accepting information from a user needs to be extremely careful about making sure their privacy policy is drafted in a way which is going to be matched to whatever types of information they’re going to be gathering.  Now, what kind of information might a website gather?  Well, if you have a piece of software which is getting web statistics, traffic statistics, then a cookie is being placed every time someone loads up that web page, and information is being collected.  So, the message here is that even behind the scenes sometimes your website’s collecting information and you might not even know it.  It’s important for you to have a privacy policy.

Obviously, there are many websites that do actively collect information.  For instance, email addresses of users or registration information from users or e-commerce information from users – credit card information – and the like, and you need to be able to tell your users how, when and under what circumstances you’re going to use that information.  A privacy policy for your website is going to govern that contractual relationship with the visitors to your website, okay?  So, what kinds of things need to go into a privacy policy and what are the drafting tips that a privacy policy drafting attorney would provide to you if you were to hire them to draft or review your website privacy policy?  Let’s go through some examples and it’ll start to make a little bit more sense.

The first thing that you need to discuss with your website visitor is what information you are going to collect. Your privacy policy should tell the user what kind of information is being collected from them from your website.  It might be as a result of filling out a form.  It might be as simply as loading the web page, okay?  If registration is required, obviously that’s a higher level of information being collected.  So, the first thing your attorney should be doing is doing an audit of the types of information that are being collected by your website, so that you can have a list and provide that information to the end-user.

The next thing that you’re going to have to tell website visitors about your privacy policy is what you are going to do with the information that you collect.  So, the second privacy policy drafting tip that this attorney is going to give you is that you need to be able to not only tell the end-user –the website visitor – what you’re collected, in terms of information, but how are you going to use that information.  So, for instance, are you going to provide their email address to related or unrelated third parties?  That’s a big issue on the internet.  We all know that what Facebook faces day in and day out every time they add a feature and the privacy mavens out there take a hard look at that and they determine whether  or not it appears that there is an intrusion into people’s privacy.  Your privacy policy in not only going to advise consumers, but it’s going to protect you when someone alleges that you’ve violated their privacy rights, and you’re going to refer them back to your privacy policy from your website and you’re going to say, “Hey, we disclosed what we collected and we told you how we were going to use that information.”

Now, here is a privacy policy drafting tip number three.  A lot of people have privacy policies for their website which fail to account for all the different information they’re collecting or fail to advise people as to how they’re going to use that information and, in fact, the privacy policy becomes a weapon of the consumer against the website owner, so that’s why this is so critical.  It’s very important that you get it right.  A good website privacy policy attorney will know how to keep you in the fairway so that your own privacy policy doesn’t become a weapon against you, okay?

The next thing that you need to know – the next privacy policy drafting tip -, as it were, is you need to tell consumers how you’re going to protect the information that you’re collecting from them.  Do you use cookies?  Are there any third party links on your website?  If there is a third party link on the website, how is that going to be incorporated into your privacy policy?  Are you responsible for the direction that you send people to?  So, if you are a traffic cop and you send a car down a side street, are you responsible for what happens on that side street.  Now, there are also a number of other things that you need to be thinking about when you have your attorney or lawyer draft your privacy policy or review your existing privacy policy for an upgrade.  You need to get consent from the user that they agree to the privacy policy (by using our site, you have consented to our privacy policy).  You also need to be able to leave yourself open to change the privacy policy as you go, so that it’s not a static privacy policy, in fact, it is subject to your change.  Then you need to also provide people information as to how to contact you.  These are some of the basics that apply when you’re going to put a privacy policy on your website.

This is Privacy Policy Attorney Enrico Schaefer, providing you my best initial tips to drafting a privacy policy and incorporating it into your website.  Feel free to contact us at anytime.  We’d be more than willing to tell you how we can help you make sure that your website privacy policy is up to snuff.  We’ll see you next time.

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