No? I envy you. They’re pretty dry reading - and besides, most people don’t really feel they have a reason to, until something goes horribly wrong - like the 2017 Equifax data breach (they’re still dealing with the lawsuits).
But if you’re among the unfortunate minority that has, you’ll know that many privacy policies read like a contract. They can be full of technical words, complex sentences, and a bunch of cross-references that need you to scroll back and forth to make sense of everything.
Privacy Policies are Consumer Facing
1. Use a Table of Contents and Hyperlinks
Even prominent headers can start to blur together in a longer document, particularly if they have users frantically whirring mousewheels or swiping screens. In this case, hyperlinking cross-references and technical terms to their definition with a single click is a simple fix. In the same vein, users may appreciate a “Table of Contents” section or nav-bar which lines up with section headers, allowing users to jump quickly from section to section or page to page. This is particularly useful with longer documents.
This sounds very basic, but the law in many jurisdictions requires visibility of certain actions related to the handling of personal information. For example, identification of “third party processors”. Finding the section of the policy in which these third parties are identified should not be an “Easter Egg Hunt” - so a table of contents and hyperlinks can support quick and easy searching.
2. Create a summary section for the important stuff.
3. Keep It Simple - Avoid Jargon and Complex Sentences
“Keeping it simple” is easier said than done, since certain concepts in privacy are inherently complex, but this step may involve presenting that concept as simply as possible without losing the underlying meaning. It’s highly recommended to verify with a lawyer that this is indeed the case with any simplified language.
However, there are many good examples of privacy policies which are written simply, such as the BBC’s, which you can refer to so that you’re not reinventing the wheel. Of course, it’s up to you (and your counsel) to make sure that any specific policies affecting your business are captured in your case.
4. Support Your Users by Keeping it Specific - Avoid Vagueness
To seasoned tech entrepreneurs, that might seem like common practice, but Unroll.me users were left feeling deceived. As such, make sure users understand what data you will be collecting (e.g. what is non-personal data) and illustrate, through example, how it can be used.
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