Privacy policies are website agreements that act as a website owner’s statement or notice to website users regarding how the owner gathers, uses, manages, or discloses a user’s data or personal information. The personal information gathered or used by a website operator can range from simple email addresses to more personalized information such as medical history or credit information. Because states and countries may differ over what they require website owners to do, guidelines over how a website operator should handle personal information may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Internet Privacy Policies in the United States
In the United States there are some overarching federal guidelines that regulate specific types of information or websites. For instance, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) applies to websites that knowingly collect information from children under the age of thirteen. Likewise, the Gramm-Leach-Billy Act requires institutions significantly engaged in financial activities to give statements about their information-sharing practices.
On a state level, some jurisdictions have implemented regulations and rules as well. As a result, website owners may be less aware of these state-specific rules. For example, California has implemented the California Online Privacy Act (COPA), which requires commercial websites or online services collecting personal information from California residents to post their privacy policies. Nebraska and Pennsylvania, similarly, have laws that govern the use of misleading statements in privacy policies.