Earning an income from your blog is a much easier venture than starting a traditional business and you don’t have to check zoning laws or apply for building permits. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t legal requirements you need to comply with.
The exact contents required will depend on the applicable laws or policies. Also, the definition of what constitutes “personal information” varies, but it often includes names and email addresses, and sometimes IP addresses and browser cookies.
In the information age, data is the new currency. Private information on individuals is very valuable to advertisers, businesses, and governments.
Today, many countries consider privacy to be a fundamental human right, and have passed legislation to protect individuals from their information being collected and used without their knowledge. Data privacy laws usually require that anyone collecting personal information via their website needs to have a statement on how and why they do so.
Australia’s Privacy Principles (APPs) is a collection of 13 principles guiding the handling of personal information. According to these principles, you must manage personal information in an open and transparent way.
European Union Data Protection Directive of 1998 states that anyone processing personal data needs must do so in a fair and lawful manner. In order for the data collection to be considered lawful, data can only be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes.
- It may be required by law. Dozens of countries around the world have laws requiring privacy policies if you live in their jurisdiction, or if you collect information from their citizens.
- It’s the right thing to do. Being transparent and sharing honest information about what data you collect and how you use it goes a long way towards establishing trust with your users. Collecting and using their data in secret is deceitful and devious – which is why it’s illegal in many countries.
What Should Be Included?
- Your name (or business name), location, and contact information
- What information you’re collecting from them (including names, email addresses, IP addresses, and any other information)
- How you’re collecting their information, and what you’re going to use it for
- How you’re keeping their information safe
- Whether or not it’s optional for them to share that information, how they can opt-out, and the consequences of doing so
- Any third-party services you’re using to collect, process, or store that information (such as an email newsletter service, or advertising network)
For Google Adsense, your policy needs to inform your users:
- Google’s use of the DoubleClick cookie (a cookie that is activated when users visit a partner’s website and view or click on an ad) enables Google and its partners to serve ads to your users based on their visit to your sites and/or other sites on the Internet.
- Users can opt out of the use of the DoubleClick cookie for interest-based advertising by visiting Google Ads Settings.
- Inform them of any third-party vendors and ad networks serving ads on your site, and provide a link to them.
For Amazon Affiliates, you’ll need to inform your users:
- How you collect, use, store, and disclose data collected from users
- That third parties (including Amazon or other advertisers) may serve content and advertisements, collect information directly from users, and place or recognize cookies on their browsers
Tools for Creating Privacy Policies
- International Privacy Laws by Country: This is a great resource to find out if your country has privacy laws, though the legalese can be difficult to interpret.
While it may seem like a hassle, putting off this important aspect of your blog could result in trouble down the line. You really don’t want to risk being banned from your affiliate ad networks, or getting sued by a website visitor.