You know those little links at the very bottom of a website? The ones under the social media icons and address details?
Understandable really – they’re usually in tiny fonts, coloured to blend into the background, reduced to little importance and hidden away as if considered undesirable; a necessary evil.
Well, unfortunately the situation isn’t so simple. While the casual visitor to your website would rather find out about what you do, or who you do it for, or how to get in touch with you, there are sound reasons these pages are so commonly found and if your website doesn’t feature them you may be in breach of privacy or data laws such as the Data Protection Act 1998 in the UK.
A question of data
In many countries a person’s data is – rightly – considered privileged information. It is their right to keep possession of it or understand how it will be used; just look at the forthcoming GDPR rules (we’re hoping to blog about these soon) to see how important this is. So, to avoid upsetting visitors, breaking laws or opening yourself up to lawsuits, it makes good business sense to be up-front and honest about your use of data.
“But I’m not using any data”
This comment spawned the foundation for this article. Plenty of websites are obvious in their data-acquisition – they may have a web form to collect email address information, or they may have e-commerce features which harvest financial data. In these instances it’s obvious that data is being collected and visitors need due warning.
However there are plenty of other ways data is captured or used by a website. Most sites feature cookies and many have analytics packages such as Google Analytics installed – these track data about site visitors and, as such, need to be disclosed.
How to do I write a policy?
There’s nothing wrong with plain English. You could simply write a short declaration of what data-tracking occurs on your site and what it means for visitors, along with a promise that you won’t share or misuse the data.