Porn 101: Website Privacy Policies and Why You Need One

As of July 1, 2004 California Law requires that an operator of a commercial Web site or online service that collects personally identifiable information through the Internet about individual consumers residing in California… shall post its privacy policy conspicuously on its website…Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 22575-22579.

Besides being legally mandated in California, accurate privacy policies increase consumer confidence and awareness. Some affiliate programs have specific requirements for their affiliate privacy policies. You should be aware of the agreements that you have with any third party and how these agreements impact your privacy policies.

Your privacy policy should be easy to read and accurately reflect the way your business collects and shares information.

Below you will find some questions to consider in developing a privacy policy and clauses that may be found in a privacy policy. There is no one size fits all privacy policy. This document will vary from business to business. A privacy policy is a legal agreement between you and the people who do business with you. You should make sure that the statements made in your privacy policy are a true reflection of the way that you do business.

Your privacy policy should: (1) Be posted in a conspicuous place; (2) Identify the categories of information your company collects from consumers; (3) Describe the categories of third parties who you share your customer information with; (4) If your company allows customers to store and update their personal information, you must post the process in which they do so; (5) Describe how you will notify consumers of any changes in your privacy policy and (6) State an effective date.

Below are some sample paragraphs and clauses that may work for your privacy policy. This is a legal document that should be drafted by legal counsel.

Example of a Preamble:

This Privacy Policy sets forth the policies and practices with respect to information or data that is received or gathered regarding Members (note: do you have members?), visitors and Users of ____________ (hereafter the “Site”) or the services provided by the Site.

CAREFULLY READ THIS PRIVACY POLICY BECAUSE BY YOUR USE OF THIS SITE AND ITS SERVICES YOU WILL BE EXPRESSLY SIGNIFYING THAT YOU AGREE TO THIS POLICY AND THAT YOU ASSENT TO THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT, INCLUDING THE USE OF ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION THAT YOU SUPPLY OR THAT IS COLLECTED ABOUT YOU AS DETAILED IN THIS PRIVACY POLICY.

IF YOU DO NOT EXPRESSLY AGREE WITH ALL OF THE TERMS OF THIS PRIVACY POLICY YOU SHOULD NOT USE THIS SITE OR ITS SERVICES.

Example of the Body of a Privacy Policy (note: these paragraphs or wording contained in them may not be appropriate for your specific business, this is just an example).

1. HOW WE COLLECT MEMBER, VISITOR OR USER INFORMATION

If you visit this Site, we may collect and store in our databases, one or more of the following types of information (ìDataî): your Internet Protocol (IP) address; the name of the domain name from which you access the Internet; the IP address of the Website from which you linked to the Site or our network of sites; browser data; email address data; and the date and time you access our Site and its functions. (Note: this is a relatively thorough list for an average paysite program, but if you collect another kind of information just by someone viewing your site, then you would list that here.)

When a visitor, member, subscriber, or other Site user requests web pages from the Site’s server, clicks on banners or other links or otherwise uses or views the Siteís services, products or other functions, we or our agents may automatically collect some information (“Data”) about the visitor, member, subscriber or user. This information may include the IP address from which the
Site is being accessed, the pages or links that were requested, the special preferences or requests of the user and cookie information received from the computer of the visitor, member, subscriber or user.

Sometimes, we may ask you to provide personal information. Whether or not you provide this personal information is completely optional. This Optional Information may include your name, username, e-mail address, physical address (or part of it such as your zip code), telephone number, gender, marital status, occupation, education and any special interests or affiliations. Additional Optional Information such as a credit card number, expiration date, security code and billing address may be requested for participation in special promotions or offers, or for billing and shipping information.

When a subscriber, member or user of this Site sends any personal communication or correspondence, by any means, to the Site, the Company or any employees, agents or representatives of Company or Site, we may collect and use any and all such information and all other Data regarding that communication.

2. COOKIES

Internet cookies are used for authenticating, tracking and maintaining specific information about users, such as site preferences or shopping cart contents. Most Internet browsers allow the option to enable or disable cookies. You may disable cookies, but this may make portions of this Site unusable. Cookies are simple pieces of data unable to perform any operation by themselves. They are neither spyware nor viruses, despite the detection of cookies from certain sites by many anti-spyware products.

This Site uses cookies to make the browsing experience of our members, subscribers and users more efficient and convenient. Our system will use cookies to remember your web preferences, and to assist us in tracking and targeting the interests, preferences and desires of our Site users to present the most appropriate messages, offers and other communications to our users, and to generally enhance their experience at our Site.

Any and all information about Site visitors, members, subscribers or users collected by the Company, the Site or any agents or affiliates of Company or Site, through the use of cookies or other similar means may be included in our database and used in a manner consistent with this Privacy Policy.

We want to inform you that third parties such as affiliates and advertisers use cookies on or in association with our Site. We often have no access or control over these cookies. We may also allow third party service providers to deliver special offers or services to Site users and to control the use of their cookies on your computer. We urge you to consult the privacy policies of any third party that you encounter on this Site.

(Note: web beacon technology, otherwise known as Clear GIFs, function similar to cookies, but are different. If you use this technology then you need an additional paragraph about Clear GIFs and)

3. HOW WE USE AND SHARE DATA AND PERSONAL INFORMATION

We use the information described in Sections One (1) and Two (2) for a variety of functions. In addition to using cookies, Data and Optional Information in the ways described above, we use this information to measure the number of visitors to the Site, to measure how traffic is generated and where it comes from; to track the success of our affiliate program and its individual affiliates (with whom this information may be shared); to track the receipt and success of customer newsletters, promotional programs, special offers and advertisements; and to generate and provide our marketing partners, affiliates, licensees, purchasers and successors in interest with accurate statistics on the performance of the Site. We also use cookies, Data and Optional Information to track customer preferences and to adapt our products and services to those preferences.

4. CHANGING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

5. UPDATES AND REVISIONS TO THIS POLICY

This Site reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to revise, amend, modify or revoke this Privacy Policy at any time and in any manner. Changes to this Privacy Policy will be effective upon the posting of any revision on the Site.

6. EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS POLICY

This Privacy Policy will become effective on _____________.

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