Getting a Free Website Privacy Policy for Your Blog

by Tom McEwin on 25 August, 2010

Having a website privacy policy is pretty important for bloggers.  In this post I’ll outline why and show you where to find a free website privacy policy (or 6) for your blog.

What Do They Do?

A website privacy policy outlines how a website collects, uses, discloses and manages someone else’s information.  This information includes not only obvious things that a visitor might enter, such as email addresses or contact details, but also things which might not be so obvious to the casual user.  Things like whether the website (or advertising on that website) will leave cookies to monitor visitors’ online activities, and if their IP addresses are tracked.  This not only helps visitors to know what their information will be used for, but also helps to protect the website owner.

Website privacy policies help visitors know what information they leave behindDifferent websites do different things and therefore need different privacy policies.  This is the first reason not to take another website’s privacy policy and use it as your own – it simply may not suit you needs.  Copying another website’s privacy policy without permission may also infringe on the copyright of whoever drafted it, which is something best avoided.

A Requirement for Advertising Networks

While it is a generally a good idea to have a website privacy policy, it becomes quite important when running adverts on a blog, given these networks may leave cookies on visitors’ computers in order to track their behaviour.  Some ad networks, such as Google AdSense, require that a website running their ads must have a privacy policy which sets out a number of things.

For example, the Google Adsense Terms and Conditions require (at [1]) that websites to have a privacy policy that:

  • discloses that third parties may be placing and reading cookies on users’ browser, or using web beacons to collect information, in the course of ads being served on the website; and
  • includes information about user options for cookie management.

The Google AdSense help page provides a bit more help on what to put in a website’s privacy policy, but unfortunately doesn’t provide a template.

If a website runs ads from a particular advertising network without meeting the privacy policy requirements imposed by that network, this may be a breach of the terms of use for that particular advertising program (it is for AdSense), and may potentially result in an advertising account being suspended or cancelled.  So better to have a website privacy policy than not, even just a basic one.

Free Website Privacy Policies

There are a number of different places that you can find a free website privacy policy which you can use for your blog.  The ones that I found (from some quick googling for phrases like ‘website privacy policy’ and ‘privacy policy generator’) vary a bit in what they do.

1)  AdSense Privacy Policies: these tend to be shorter, and are targeted towards satisfying the requirements of advertising networks for bloggers, rather than being suitable for websites with a larger commercial use:

  • Serp Rank AdSense Privacy Policy Generator – a privacy policy generator that creates a custom AdSense privacy policy, based on a few basic details.  Easy to use, easy to understand and seems suitable for affiliate marketers.
  • JenSense Sample Website Privacy Policy – a straight template which will can be copied then customised by simply inserting the url of your website.  Very clear and appears to be Google AdSense compliant.

2) Commercial Privacy Policies: these tend to be lengthier and provide much more detail on how information is used and stored, which is a good idea if you have an online checkout or registration requirement for visitors:

  • FreePrivacyPolicy.com – a highly customisable privacy policy generator, which appears potentially suitable for websites which are a bit more involved than a standard blog.  The sample policies produced seem relatively easy to understand.
  • OECD Privacy Statement Generator – this privacy policy generator which involves a fairly detailed questionnaire regarding data practices.  Requires login.

3) UK Privacy Law Compliant Policies: these are free website privacy policies that seem suitable for commercial sites and pay attention to the particular requirements of UK privacy law:

  • WebsitePrivacyPolicy.co.uk – this site offers a sample website privacy policy prepared by a UK law firm that is available for free download, with guidance notes.  It makes specific mention of UK law but doesn’t seem to go into the level of detail regarding cookie usage that the AdSense privacy policy templates do.
  • Business Link Free Website Privacy Policy – a template provided courtesy of the UK government.  It refers to UK law, but is relatively straightforward and provides a nice explanation of how cookies work.

Which One is the Right Fit?

Which of these free website privacy policies (or combination of these policies) is right for your blog will really depend on what you use it for.  Personally, I’ll be using a combination of them but I will be cutting some of the detail that is more comprehensive than I require.

One of the other key things that a website should do is to set out the terms of use (or terms and conditions) for that site.  In a future post I’ll be looking into what sort of things these documents should cover and where to find some free ones.  However, before I get into this I’ll be looking at what to do if someone copies your blog content without permission.

© Tom McEwin
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{ 17 comments }

1 Helen Nester August 26, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Hi Tom

Fantastic info on free website privacy policies. Look forward to the rest of this series for sure!

2 Jan Littlehales August 26, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Good stuff Tom – thanks so much for providing this valuable information about website privacy policies. It’s something I’ve known I should be doing, but didn’t really know where to start. I’ve got Adsense on some of my websites, so I think I’ll start with that. Thank you !! :)
Jan Littlehales´s last [type] ..Learn Typing – without software

3 Leo Bookham August 26, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Hi Tom,

A good reminder to us how important it is to include a privacy policy into our websites. Very well layed out too by the way.
Leo Bookham´s last [type] ..Solar Energy Advantages

4 Jo Carey-Bradshaw August 26, 2010 at 6:02 PM

Hi Tom,

Thanks so very much for these links. The topic is number 1 on my to-do list; and it is so great to have good, commonsense and wise advice.

I’m off to make some pages. Thanks again, :)

5 Caroline August 26, 2010 at 11:12 PM

Thanks for this really useful article Tom. I will definitely be reviewing my own privacy statement and implementing some changes based on the advice you’ve provided.

Caroline
Caroline´s last [type] ..Backing Tracks – A Great Accessory for Singers

6 Jayne Pleysier August 27, 2010 at 12:11 AM

Thankyou so much for writing this post on a Privacy Policy and for the links you have provided for us to investigate them further. I look forward to the next one you are going to write about the Terms and Conditions.
Jayne Pleysier´s last [type] ..How Small Business Accounting Software Can Save You Money

7 Lina Nguyen August 27, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Hi Tom

Wow, now that’s what I call putting in an effort to put together a helpful article for your readers!

Well done!

Nice timing for me. I just drafted a privacy policy for my new website, which was an interesting exercise.

It might not be the most exciting part of a website, but it’s important. Especially, as you say, if you’re going to have ads.

Lina

8 David Moloney August 29, 2010 at 3:43 PM

Hi Tom,

Making sure you dot your I’s and cross your T’s is very important in the online space – especially with people who don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions. I’m looking forward to you giving more advice about a free website privacy policy. In particular – where you can get a template and what you need to include.
David Moloney´s last [type] ..Why Your First Sale is The Most Important

9 Tom McEwin August 29, 2010 at 10:29 PM

Thanks for your comments Helen, Jan, Leo, Jo, Caroline, Jayne, Lina and David.

Glad you found the links to the free privacy policies to be useful. I must admit, the need to have a privacy policy from an advertising perspective is something that caught me a little unawares, although it does seem to make sense. As Lina put it, these pages don’t make for the most interesting part of a blog, but they are important.

10 Dayne Jones September 14, 2010 at 5:43 AM

Thanks for the tips. We have a lot of customers who ask for privacy policies and this is a great resource.

11 Jeremy September 22, 2010 at 6:47 PM

Hi Tom,

Thanks for this awesome post & resource! I am fairly new to internet marketing & have been wandering about privacy policies & disclaimers & stuff so this article has come in very handy for me : )
Jeremy´s last [type] ..jlagatule- RT @MarinCristi- RT Meet the new Twittercom designhttp-twittercom-newtwitter

12 Tom McEwin September 22, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Hi Dayne and Jeremy, glad you liked it.

The next post I am working on (after the one I have just published about DMCA Takedown Notices) will be about website term of use and disclaimers etc. So stay tuned!

13 Jazz Salinger September 27, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Hi Tom,

Thank-you so much for this post. You’ve done a fantastic job of compiling all of this information and finding some really useful links for us.

This is such invaluable information for anyone who wants to use advertising on their sites. I just have one question. I’ve seen that you can buy privacy policies and terms and conditions online.

Do you think it’s worth buying one or do you think the free versions will suffice? I’d really appreciate your advice and thanks again for all your effort.
Jazz Salinger´s last [type] ..Keyword Tutorial – The Long and the Short of It

14 Tom McEwin September 28, 2010 at 11:18 PM

Hi Jazz, I’m glad you like the post.

I have seen different sites where you can buy privacy policies and terms of use, but found that these tended not to make the documents being sold available for review beforehand. So I haven’t had a detailed look at any of them. Personally, I thought a free privacy policy (with a couple of amendments) was fine for my purposes, but this is a matter of individual preference.

Also, just because some sites sell these documents this doesn’t necessarily make them any better than the free versions available. For example, the UK specific policies linked to in this post look quite good (one was prepared by the UK government and other by a UK law firm) and cover off certain UK specific privacy law issues.

If you are after a bit more information about drafting privacy policies, then you can check out this guide which a US lawyer has put together: http://www.digicontracts.com/landing/draftprivpol.aspx (requires free signup)

Essentially, the more types of information a website collects and different purposes that information will be used for, the more things that will need to be discussed in the website’s privacy policy. The main thing is to have something which will at least cover off the basics of what sort of personal information your website will collect and what will be done with that information. This is where I found the customisable generators particularly useful, as they can help narrow down what sort of things are perhaps unnecessary.

15 Jazz Salinger October 2, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the detailed answer. I’m probably worrying unnecessarily and making getting a privacy policy more complicated than I need to.

When it comes to legal matters, I just like to have everything right and I worry about how comprehensive ‘free’ privacy policies are. I think you’re right though.

At this stage of my blogging, a free privacy policy will give me the coverage I need. Thanks again for your advice and such a great post.
Jazz Salinger´s last [type] ..What Is a Niche Market

16 Madeleine February 20, 2011 at 1:16 AM

Hello Tom,
I have read information on Michelle McPherson page, as well as your Blog on successful Affiliate Marketing.
This is indeed eye-opening info, written in the most clear and easy way to
follow and understand.
I am a “newbie” at Internet Marketing, having recently signed-up with SBI!,
(Sight Built It!) for a full Course on Internet Marketing. SBI! have assigned
a Specialist (She is from Melbourne) to mentor me throughout the duration
of the course.
Thank you Tom, for everything you do, great stuff!

Cheers,
Madeleine Bridges
Sunshine Coast QLD

17 Tom McEwin June 19, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Hi Madeleine – happy to help.

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