When to Update Your Privacy Policy

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To run a successful business, you must know when to update your privacy policy. A privacy policy is a statement outlining how a company manages the customer, client, or employee data amassed during operations. Most websites provide users with access to their privacy policies.

What Does Updating a Privacy Policy Mean?

Privacy policies contain the official practices of a company website, including:

  • Data collection
  • Storage
  • Security

With constantly changing standards in privacy laws, companies must ensure that policies are routinely refreshed to reflect any significant changes in managing their consumers’ data. In addition, privacy policy updates are essential to business requirements to comply with evolving international privacy laws.

Typical information that is required to be updated in a privacy policy includes:

  • The company and website name
  • The terms of service
  • A description of the personal information gathered by the website
  • The terms and conditions
  • References to the GDPR and CCPA
  • The method of collection of personal information and data processing
  • Storage of the personal information and the extent the information is secure
  • The intended usage of the business to use the personal information
  • The way online users can request a rectification or check their personal information
  • The frequency in which policies are updated (i.e., once a year, etc.)
  • The complaint filing process for consumers
  • The storage of cookies

Here is an article about what updating your privacy policy means.

Why Do Companies Update Their Privacy Policy?

Businesses frequently alter their website’s privacy policy because of privacy laws, whether due to stricter enforcement or newly passed legislation. For example, recently enacted laws may require companies to update their practices on how users' data is collected, stored, and used.

Laws may also force companies to adopt policies with increased transparency and inform users on how they can exclude their personal data from being collected.

A variety of international and federal laws govern privacy policy regulations. Privacy policies, in effect, are a form of terms of service that allow for internet lawyers to govern their website in compliance with these regulations. Some of the laws that regulate personal information of online users include:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR is a regulation from the European Union (EU) that protects the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of whether the business has a presence in the region.
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA established the California Privacy Protection Agency. The act allows Californians to know what personal data is being collected about them and say no to the sale of personal data.
  • California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA). CalOPPA requires commercial websites with users using internet services in California to post their privacy policies on their websites.
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). A U.S. Federal Law that restricts websites serving users under the age of 13 from the unauthorized gathering, use, or disclosure of a child's personal information.
  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. A Canadian law designed to protect the privacy of online users in Canada, effectively designed to assure European Users that their rights would be upheld in Canada as well.

Here is an article about why companies update privacy policy

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How Often Should You Update Your Privacy Policy?

Your privacy policy has to be reviewed and updated frequently. To make sure it accurately reflects your current data processing operations, company owners should at the very least evaluate your privacy policy once a year.

Like the terms of service on a website, internet lawyers are useful to ensure the privacy policy for the website is up to date. An update will allow for both updates based on changes from internal practices and for compliance with newly adopted laws.

A privacy policy might also be revisited when forming or renewing business relationships. Often, interaction with third-party vendors from online sites will require certain policies to be in place for protection from liability. As such, privacy policies are commonly reviewed when companies deliver a fresh update or service, use data in a new way, or share information with a new business partner or vendor.

Certain privacy rules call for updates after a specified amount of time. For instance, the California Consumer Privacy Act requires companies to update their privacy policy once a year.

As websites are designed to attract users from around the globe, the bare minimum of once a year is a reasonable frame of reference. Still, website admins should look for internet lawyers to determine what laws might apply to their target audience.

Here is an article on how often you should update your privacy policy.

When Should I Update My Privacy Policy?

There are a variety of situations that could prompt a business to update its privacy policy. Here are some reasons to change your privacy policy:

  • Updated Privacy Laws. A company may modify a privacy policy because of a changing legal environment. For example, the adoption of GDPR led most companies to update their privacy policies.
  • Introduction of New Products and Services. As previously mentioned, new products or services may impact the data collected from users and force companies to modify their policies.
  • Corporate Change. Modifying the business environment or entering different industries could result in the need to update policies.
  • Modification in Data Processing. The enhanced use of personal data and changes in how data is stored may impact a website’s policies.
  • Routine Updates. As mentioned above, a company is advised to update its privacy policy at least once a year.

Here is an article on when to update your privacy policy

Do You Need to Notify Users When Updating Your Privacy Policy?

Businesses must notify customers of updates to their privacy policy before they take effect. The notification to users is more than just a sound business decision. In many circumstances, the laws above trigger websites to notify their users as part of a legal duty to comply with the law.

The notification form can differ depending on the extent of changes made to the privacy policy. On the one hand, you might consider simply having a popup that introduces a notification that changes were made. On the other hand, if significant modifications are made, you might require users to review the privacy policy and click to accept the changes for their renewed consent.

Regardless of the form taken, you should provide notification to users on some level for any modification to your privacy policy.

Here are the reasons to provide notification to users for updates to your privacy policy:

  • Abide With Privacy Laws: Giving users an update notification is not only excellent business practice is required by various privacy laws.
  • Satisfy User Concerns: With the growing number of websites and apps, user concerns about the security of their data are becoming increasingly more of a concern. Disclosing to users any changes will result in less backlash if those changes lead to future disruption in the business.
  • Preventing Misunderstandings and Disagreements: Notification acts as a shield from liability. Informing users of the modifications prevents users from claiming they were not informed or did not consent to the privacy policy when updating your terms and conditions.

Here is an article on whether you have a need to notify users about privacy policy updates.

Do You Need to Display Your Privacy Policy on Your Website?

If you gather personal data from your clients or users, it is necessary for you to have a privacy policy on your website. Almost all the privacy laws demand that you post an explanation of your data processing procedures in a privacy policy on your website.

A privacy policy, terms and conditions, and terms of service are almost always public information that a website provides to their users and provides notification in any change or update. You must disclose to users what information you gather, how it is used, kept, and secured, as required by law.

Here is an article that discusses Privacy Policy on Your Website

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