Privacy policies are as integral to your business’s website as its domain name. Even if it’s not compulsory, it’s still highly advantageous. If you’re a business owner who runs a website, you’ve probably heard of a thing called a privacy policy. Alternatively, as a customer, you’ve probably seen the words ‘privacy policy’ on a lot of the websites you visit. Well, there’s a good reason for this. Privacy policies protect consumers, but they also have the double-effect of protecting businesses.

In this article, we’ll breakdown 5 benefits of having a privacy policy on your website. Even if they’re not a legal requirement in Australia (yet), it’s still in your best interests to have one.

Having a privacy policy for your website will instil trust in your users

People tend to take their privacy very seriously. This can be seen in how user behaviour has changed during the lifetime of the internet. People are more aware than ever that their information is collected. Further, many people are hesitant or cautious in giving their information out. Letting your customers know how you handle their data will send the message that your business shares their concerns.

You’ll be keeping your customers informed

Businesses with a solid and consistent customer base make an effort to keep their customers updated. Just how you may send promotions or emails to your customers, you should also inform them of how you’ll protect their data. Further, your business may have to comply with the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme (NDBS). This means that you’ll have to inform your users if their data is ever compromised or exploited.

You’ll be covering your bases

Things can go wrong, and having a privacy policy can also be seen as a type of insurance. If you’ve provided all the information on what your business does with customer data upfront, then it is unlikely you will be held liable if a breach or hack occurs.

You’ll need one anyway if you’re operating outside of Australia

Australia is one of the few jurisdictions where having a privacy policy isn’t compulsory for all businesses (however, it is compulsory for many). Jurisdictions such as the European Union (EU) and some States in the United States (California) require all businesses to have a privacy policy. This means that if you sell or have any sort of presence in these jurisdictions, you’ll be breaking the law if you don’t have a privacy policy.

Example

David runs an online customisable t-shirt business. Although he registered his domain name in Australia, he also has a large customer base in Germany. Due to the fact that German citizens access and purchase from his site, he needs to comply with their laws. David needs to have a privacy policy because Germany is subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

You’ll need one anyway to sell on other sites

If you’re also selling your products through third party sites, then you’ll probably need a privacy policy. For example, you’ll need one if you’re operating a business page on Facebook. Similarly, other online marketplaces such as Etsy require sellers to have a privacy policy. If you need one to sell on external sites, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t also have one for your site.

Final thoughts

Privacy has become such a big issue for consumers that not having one is risky. Privacy law has also seen a lot of change in recent years (a good example is China’s proposed privacy reforms). This means that the law may change for Australian business owners to reflect the larger global trend towards compulsory privacy policies. However, if you’re unsure about your privacy obligations, then it is worth speaking to a website or privacy lawyer.

Don’t know where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

Jackie Olling

Jackie is the Content Manager at LawPath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts degree from Macquarie University and has worked in the legal industry since 2014. She's interested in legal tech and the opportunities it offers to not only the legal industry, but all people.