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How often should a privacy policy be updated?

A privacy policy is a living document, one that changes as technologies (and the rules that govern them) evolve. But how often should a privacy policy be updated?
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5 min read
October 7, 2021
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A privacy policy is a living document, one that changes as technologies (and the rules that govern them) evolve. But how often should a privacy policy be updated?

Businesses are urged to review and update their privacy policy at least once every twelve months, or even more frequently if the business and its data practices are dynamic—no matter how slight the revisions are.

Consequently, businesses must inform their consumers about these changes and, if necessary, obtain their consent to allow current data practices to continue.

What Is A Privacy Policy?

A privacy policy is a written document that details the online and offline data practices of a business, especially as it relates to their sources of data—their consumers. It’s created to protect information that’s collected, used, and shared within its operations.

A privacy policy must be placed in a conspicuous part of a business’s website. It can also be introduced when a business adds a cookie message to a website that pops up upon a user’s first visit.

Why Update A Privacy Policy?

Most businesses update their privacy policy to comply with data privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Both of these laws require businesses to be transparent about their data practices, which can be accomplished with a privacy policy.

Even without having to abide by laws, however, businesses need to update their privacy policy to nurture a sense of trust between them and their consumers. Having a comprehensive privacy policy also helps businesses protect themselves from data-related disputes.

When To Update A Privacy Policy

The rule of thumb is that whenever there is a change in the data privacy laws or a company’s data privacy management processes, whether it is because the business has new products or services or there are operational changes within the company, a business must update its privacy policy.

New Products Or Services

The introduction of new products and services can warrant an update to a privacy policy especially if they are related to children or minors (since parental or guardian consent is required before processing the information collected from them). Additionally, new products or services that involve third parties may compel a business to update its privacy policy if data will go through other channels, as well.

Revamped Data Practices

Any changes in a business’s data practices need to be included in the privacy policy. These may include company changes (e.g. restructuring, adding departments, etc.) that affect how the company manages consumer information. A business should keep track of any changes in its processes and ensure that the privacy policy is up-to-date.

Changing Data Privacy Laws

Data privacy laws generally include guidelines as to how privacy policies should be written or delivered, including what needs to be included. Businesses must follow these rules—and make any updates, as mandated by the laws, so they’re compliant, reducing the risk of any legal damages.

How To Update A Privacy Policy

Reviewing the CCPA and the GDPR, both of which have regulations about how to structure a privacy policy, is the best way to update your business’s own document and to ensure that you cover all the bases in protecting the information of your consumers.

Make sure that the language is clear and understandable, and that your privacy policy includes all the elements required by the laws. Generally, both implore businesses to be very transparent about how consumer data is collected, stored, used, and shared or sold (or made available to another party in any way).

For businesses under the GDPR, a privacy policy must also include a section about marketing, website cookies, and contact information for GDPR request responses, among others. Meanwhile, for businesses under the CCPA, a privacy policy should have a link to a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” page, should detail all the categories of personal information collected, and so on.

What To Do After Updating A Privacy Policy

After updating your privacy policy, it’s imperative that you inform consumers about the changes and, depending on the data privacy law that governs your business, obtain consent from them regarding the update (via e-mail, pop-up message, etc.) before proceeding with the use of their information. Business owners must also keep informed about data privacy laws to ensure that their privacy policy is always up-to-date with relevant regulations.

Read time
5 min read
October 7, 2021
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