If you run a blog, you must consider your readers’ data privacy and their rights to it. The law treats simple blogs like any other website when it comes to data privacy.
What Is Blogging?
The original purpose of blogging was for individuals to post updates (usually text-based) about their life or put creative works up for everyone to see.
Today, blogs are used by everyone — from solo creators to major companies — to accomplish several goals. They have also become one of the best ways for websites to improve their search engine optimization (SEO).
Blogging is an excellent way to provide free content to your users and keep them returning to your site. Posting high-quality information can help you encourage people to sign up for email lists, make affiliate purchases, or return to your site and allow you to generate ad revenue.
Personal information is any information that can be directly or indirectly linked to an individual. Some examples of personal information that blogs collect include:
- Email addresses
- Account sign-up information
- IP addresses
- Transactional data (e.g., billing information, payment details)
You may also need a blog disclaimer to cover other activities and content on your blog.
In many cases, yes, blogs require privacy policies.
Furthermore, even if you don’t directly collect information, the technology that powers your blog or the 3rd party software that enhances it might. In that case, you still need to provide a policy or risk legal consequences.
- AdSense: If you monetize your blog through ad platforms like AdSense, it’s guaranteed the ad provider is collecting user information. You need to provide a clear policy explaining to users how and why AdSense is gathering that data.
Which Privacy Laws Affect Your Blog?
Depending on where you live and what audiences you target, there are a variety of privacy laws that may affect your blog. These include:
- Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA): This Canadian data privacy law heavily mirrors the GDPR. Blogs that collect identifying information from Canadian residents must also post blog policies naming what they gather, why, and how it’s used.
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): The CCPA is California’s answer to the GDPR. It specifically gives users the right to know what data is being collected about them.
- Additional US State Laws: Various other states in the US are implementing laws similar to the CCPA and CalOPPA. These include the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA), the Colorado Privacy Act, the Connecticut Data Privacy Act, and the Utah Consumer Privacy Act, which will go into effect in 2023, as well as pending laws in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii.
Here’s how each option works and when they might work best for you.
Use a Managed Solution
Our generator is compliant with the GDPR, CCPA, CalOPPA, PIPEDA, and other data privacy laws. It’s easy to connect to your site, supports a wide range of customization, and it will automatically update your policy as laws change.
Step 2: Answer a few simple prompts and questions, and go through all of the steps until you reach “Final Details.”
Use a Template
Unfortunately, templates take a little more work than a managed solution since you need to keep the policy up-to-date on your own.
Write It Yourself
- Determine which laws apply to you. You want to make sure your policy follows the rules and regulations of the laws that actually apply to you. When in doubt, it’s better to comply with more laws rather than fewer.
- Use simple language: You need to write in clear, easy-to-understand language. That means no legalese or complicated terms. Instead, write the policy so the average person can understand it. It’s important to match the categories of data collected with the purpose and the legal basis. For example, take a look at Bumble’s lawful basis section.
List the Information You Collect
What does the GDPR require?
Under the GDPR, there are different disclosure requirements depending on how you obtained the personal data of individuals:
What should you include if individuals voluntarily provided their personal data to you? (Article 13 of the GDPR)
What if you obtained individuals’ data indirectly? (Article 14 of the GDPR)
This article applies if you used technologies such as google analytics or you bought their data from data brokers.
Additional requirement under CCPA
Unlike GDPR, the CCPA does not distinguish between data directly provided by individuals vs. data obtained indirectly. Therefore, you need to list categories of personal data individuals directly provide.
You also need to specifically name the following categories of information:
- The categories of personal information collected/sold/disclosed for business purposes in the previous 12 months.
Explain How the Data Will Be Used
The next section should explain how you will use the information you collect.
For instance, you may use visitor emails to send newsletters or post updates, while you may use demographic information to deliver personalized ads.
This section should also be thorough. Leaving out one of the ways you use personal data, even by accident, can leave you at risk of legal action.
Auditing your site will help ensure you don’t miss any of the ways your blog uses data.
Describe How You Protect Personal Data
The personal data you collect needs to be carefully protected to avoid data breaches. In this section, describe how you protect the information you gather, including security measures like:
- Access limits
The specific security measures you need will depend on what data you gather and store. For example, if your blog includes a store, you’ll need extra protection to guard your visitors’ payment details.
Discuss If and How You Share Data With Third Parties
Name the third parties you work with and why.
It’s also a good idea to link to the privacy policies of your most important partners, so visitors can quickly check how these third parties are using their data.
Describe Your Cookie and Tracking Technology Usage
Explain How Users Can See and Control Their Data
Transparency is a fundamental part of modern data privacy laws. Therefore, your policy should include a section informing users how they can see all the information your blog has collected about them.
The policy should also explain explain your users’ rights under applicable privacy laws and describe how they can exercise their rights:
First, under the GDPR, CCPA and other major privacy laws, users have the right to access, delete, and rectify their personal data.
Additional Information You Need to Include:
- Blog owner information and contact details: You need to disclose who owns the website and how to get in contact with them.
- How individuals can file complaints: You need to inform user how they can file complaints with the proper data protection authorities.
- Data storage practices: You need to disclose how long you will keep data and how you will dispose of it.
- International data transfers: Disclose how you handle international data transfers.
Sample Blog Privacy Policies
It’s clear what information is collected, how it’s used, and where users can find more information about third-party privacy policies.
The Serious Eats blog policy is a little more in-depth. It includes much more information because the blog directly gathers a lot of personal data.
The above clause shows how you can communicate how you use all the information you collect and why you need it.
In the affiliate disclosure section, the blog includes an Amazon Affiliate disclosure, and outlines their relationship with other third-party advertisers.