3 Reasons Not To Copy Another Websites Privacy Policy

I’ll just borrow this privacy policy from this blogger…

One of the great things about the blogging community is how open and sharing people are with the flow of information and ideas. So much so that many people swipe things from other bloggers sites, posts, and even legal disclosures.

Even extremely popular author Tim Ferriss states on his Disclosure page,

“Please feel free to use the text and images on this page with proper attribution. There is no reason why each blogger should have to reinvent the wheel.”

Awesome stuff right?? But…

Don’t swipe everything

While you can swipe certain parts of other websites, with permission of course, you need to be wary of copying certain legal disclosures. Most importantly your privacy policy. Here’s 3 Reasons why:

1. Your Privacy Policy Is Only As Good (OR Bad) As What You Write

Your policy needs to be specific to your business. If you copy Blogger A’s policy from his site and it says, “”You’re privacy is our top priority” or something like that, it had better be your top priority. While it may sound like throw away marketing copy, you just created a legal obligation with your readers.

If one of them wants to sue you on a privacy related claim guess where the judge is gonna look first…and since you said privacy is your top priority that judge is going to ask exactly how you made privacy your top priority.

Saying, “Sorry your honor I just took the privacy policy from another website” is no defense to the law. Courts have held that throwing in extra copy like “top priority” can increase a companies responsibility to its users.

2. Reserve The Right To Change Your Policy

Maybe that policy you borrowed or even the one you wrote yourself is pretty solid. Does it include the right to change your policy at any time?

While you may be a small blogger now, how might things change once you start getting 10,000 or even 1 million page views per month. Things may change dramatically on your blog or company website, perhaps overnight, so make it easy on yourself and reserve the right to change without notice.

If you have already posted a policy or are looking to add one to your site, see a qualified business attorney who can help you craft the correct language for your policy.

At the very least explicitly state that your policy may change without notice at any time.

3. People Can Tell You Copied Some Other Websites Privacy Policy

Ok not everyone, admittedly some people are dumb and most normal people won’t even read your privacy policy unless they feel like you have screwed them.

However, if someone did take the time to read the policy you swiped it would become readily apparent because…

It probably makes no sense

You may think that everything looks like it lines up with your business but I can almost virtually guarantee you some little part or detail will be out of place because you are in a different industry, type of website, business, etc.

Or on the flip side, it may include bits and language that are not relevant to your site. For instance:

Website A: Collects users email addresses, allows users to upload photos, video, chat with other users, and post to other users.

You: Collect users names and email addresses.

Small difference right? No big deal you say. Well it may not be a big deal. Until it is. At the very best you have a long complicated privacy policy that doesn’t apply to your website. Or one thats too short and doesn’t protect you. That equals you looking like an amateur and not having your company as protected as it should be.

Don’t look like an amateur.

Your privacy policy is important

So after reading this, how does your privacy policy stack up? Maybe it is in great shape, or more likely it needs a tune up. Take care of this now!

The Privacy Policy builds trust with your community and sets the ground rules for how they can expect you to treat their personal information and more. 

At the very least go find and meet with a local business attorney. The few hundred bucks it may cost is well worth it to get a custom properly drafted Privacy Policy that may save you tens of thousands in legal fees down the road. The attorney will probably have some useful insights on how you are using your customers information as well. It is worth the small investment, not only for yourself but for your customers and community.

Did you borrow your privacy policy? Questions? Let me know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This blog discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Reading or relying on any such information found within this blog in no way, shape, or form creates or constitutes an Attorney-Client Relationship. The author and his firm expressly disclaim all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this letter.

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