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A Crash Course on Privacy Policies
In the early days of e-commerce, customers had no expectation that their purchase data would be tracked. But today this is a given, and privacy policies are one of the most critical parts of any business website. This is because they help protect companies from lawsuits due to security breaches or mishandling of customer data, as well as provide transparency for buyers so they know how their data will be handled.
Why Shopify Stores Need Privacy Policies
International Data Privacy Laws
In this age of globalization and plenty of international store traffic, it’s important to understand international data privacy laws. Because as a Shopify store owner, you are not only required to follow data privacy laws in your jurisdiction, but you must do so for the countries that your customers live in, as well.
Your website may be accessed in other countries and your visitors or customers can come from anywhere. So, you need to know what the laws are for data privacy in those countries. Here’s a quick list of the laws that govern online data collection and usage.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The GDPR regulation includes strict guidelines you should consider when storing data about visitors to your site. For example, it requires companies that use individuals’ personal information to give them notice and get their consent before collecting this information — even if they are not located within the EU. GDPR also states that any collected information must only be used for specific purposes, such as providing services requested by the customer or fulfilling contractual agreements with them.
Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
PIPEDA is a Canadian law that regulates how companies can use personal information. This includes the disclosure of personal information, the collection and retention of it, and what happens to it when someone leaves your company or dies. It also covers how you use this data for marketing purposes and who has access to it within your company. As an owner of a Shopify store, understanding PIPEDA laws are crucial for safeguarding customer data.
Australian Privacy Act
The Australian Privacy Act, which came into force in 1988, was designed to protect the privacy and personal data of individuals. It’s enforced by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and ensures that any individual has a right to access their own personal information held by an organization. The act also covers how organizations may collect, use, or disclose information about individuals. If your business collects sensitive information from customers such as credit card numbers or medical history, it’s important you comply with these rules for protecting customer privacy.
- Your contact details should be clearly visible. For Shopify stores, this includes business location. For dropshipping shops this would be the registered address of your business.
- Include a clear description of the data you capture from your customers and how you go about collecting it.
- How long you’ll keep data should be stated as well. Some laws require that you not indefinitely store customer data.
- Shipping procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic need to be outlined, to avoid agitating your customers.
In addition to these items, make sure to go through the specific laws for the regions you want to do business in and include any requirements.
I you still want to know more about Shopify privacy policies, here are some answers to common questions on the subject.
Once you have this covered, head over to your Shopify store admin section and navigate to Settings > Legal.
Shopify can only go as far as providing the space for store owners to insert their own privacy policies. This can easily be explained by the fact that every business has different target regions, obligations, and methods of using any collected data.
The “use template” option in Shopify will provide a bare-bones passage. Unless you conduct some research and fill in the gaps, you expose your business to a wide spectrum of legal battles, should anything unforeseen happen with customer data.