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Website Privacy Policies: More Than Meets The Eye

Most sites that sell products and services have a "Privacy Policy." Sites that gather personal information for any purpose contain statements of a "Privacy Policy," and these may be found to vary widely from one site to the next. Many website owners simply copy the statements from other sites, viewing these to be "voluntary." Many site owners add a privacy policy for no reason other than to make visitors "feel" more secure in their use of the site, even when such "security" cannot be guaranteed.

You realize that your site has a reach much further than the area in which you are headquartered, and depending on the purpose for your site, you may relish the idea that your reach will extend across the nation, or around the world. What your should know is that there are areas within the reach of your site that have laws requiring a privacy policy, and rules that specify what that policy must contain. Whether it is California's Online Privacy Protection Act, Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or the laws of several states that address misleading statements in privacy policies, you should know that there is a body of law that may apply in the places your website will be seen and visited. Failure to comply with the laws and guidelines within the U.S., in Canada or in the E.U. may result in lawsuits and liability.

The approach, or "mindset" needed to comply with these laws is much different than most site owners believe when they set out to write their own privacy policies. Before you simply copy the privacy policy from another site, and before you put together a policy you deem appropriate, it is best to consult with an attorney familiar with the laws, guidelines and regulations that bear on your website. The lawyers at Hickey, Cianciolo, Finn & Atkins PC in Troy, Michigan are familiar with the applicable law and have written privacy policies in use on the internet in a variety of settings.

Categories: Business Law

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