Why A Privacy Policy Is Essential For Any Business Which Collects Personal Data

Why A Privacy Policy Is Essential For Any Business Which Collects Personal Data

One of the many things that the internet has brought into the awareness of everyone who uses it, is the risk that exists concerning their personal and private data. Whether it be the annoyance of an email address being sent spam, or the trauma of having credit card details stolen and used to make purchases, the risks exist for everyone online.

This is why commercial law makes it abundantly clear that the onus is on those who take, use and store data, to have measures in place to protect it. The most relevant commercial legislation in Australia is the Privacy Act which was introduced in 1998. It is this act which businesses and organisations should comply with, and their privacy policies should make that crystal clear.

Privacy Policy vs Disclaimers And Terms Of Use

It needs to be fully understood that whilst a website owner can list as many terms and conditions, terms of use, terms of sale, and disclaimers as they wish, provided they are fair and legal, their privacy policy exists in isolation to them all and has a completely different purpose. Terms of any kind relating to how the visitor to a website uses it whether they provide any private information or not.

On the other hand, a privacy policy indicates how the website or business owner is going to deal with and protect any data or information which the visitors provide. As such the terms and conditions are normally the company telling a user the conditions under which they interact with it and complete a purchase whereas a privacy policy is a business telling the visitors how it operates specifically relating to personal data.

Australian Privacy Principles (APPs)

The APPs form the core principles under which the Privacy Act 1998 seeks to protect the data and information of individuals when they provide them to businesses and organisations. They cover specifics such as:

  • Collection Of Data
  • Use Of Data
  • Disclosure Of Data
  • Storage Of Data
  • Accountability Of The Organisation
  • Rights Of Invidious To Access Their Personal Data

Whilst it has these cornerstones, the APPs take account of the fact that no two businesses operate in the same and thus provides a level of flexibility as to how each business implements them. Despite us living in a world of computers and broadband the APPs also do not stipulate what technologies nor the extent of the technologies an entity must use to fulfil their obligation under the Privacy Act.

Why Use A Privacy Policy?

By having a comprehensive and clear privacy policy on your website, one of the first benefits is that anyone visiting is going to have more trust in your business, and subsequently feel more confident providing personal information. It also ensures that you comply with the APPs mentioned in the previous section.

Consider two websites, one with a privacy policy and one without. Which one do you think will have visitors leaving their email or phone number so that the business can call them? Which one will generate leads and take prospects through the sales process? On eCommerce sites that sell directly from the website, which do think people will be confident enough to input their credit card details? There is only one clear answer, and it is the website that has a privacy policy.

What To Include On a privacy Policy

We trust that by now you can see that a privacy policy is essential, and so here are some of the items you should include in yours.

  • Business Name
  • Business Address
  • What Information Is Collected
  • How The Information Is Held
  • What Purposes Are For Collecting, Storing, And Using The Information
  • How A Person Can Access Their Information
  • How A Person Can Seek To Correct Information
  • How A Person Can Complain About An Apps Breach
  • How The Business. Organization Will Deal With Complaints
  • Guarantees That The Information Will Not Be Sold, Rented, Or Spammed

For further information on privacy policies for your business website, speak to a commercial lawyer who will also be able to create one for you.