What is a Privacy Policy? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 What Is a Privacy Policy?
  • 1:17 Why Websites Need a…
  • 1:36 What Does a Privacy…
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lonny Meinecke

Lonny was once a software programmer (video game industry). He now teaches psychology at King University. He has a bachelor's in IT and a PhD in psychology.

The focus of this lesson will be privacy policies, which are found on nearly every website. We will define what a privacy policy is, provide an example, and have a short quiz to test your new knowledge.

What Is a Privacy Policy?

A privacy policy is a simple set of statements that lets website visitors know what kind of information is being collected and what the website intends to do with that information. The issue of privacy is of much concern to many visitors. It's possible to gather personal information using various online forms, and what happens after that may raise suspicions about potential violations of privacy or misuse of personal information.

Let's apply the concept to an example. Think of a privacy policy as a verbal explanation to ease the anxieties of primitive tribes just before we take their photograph. The natives are afraid that photography might 'steal their soul,' because cameras magically take snapshots of living people. They may feel that a camera traps their identity in a little box. A website works in a similar way - it takes snapshots of personal information using hidden web scripts, and what happens to those snapshots after they are taken can be a mystery. In the way that a verbal explanation can assure the tribespeoples that their souls will be safe when their pictures are taken, a privacy policy assures site visitors that their identities will be safe when their information is collected.

Why Websites Need a Privacy Policy

There are two very valid reasons why websites have privacy policies. First, it's a simple and effortless way to ease any anxiety a potential site visitor might have. Second, laws exist to protect the rights of individuals, and these regulations may advise or even require the use of a privacy policy.

What Does a Privacy Policy Look Like?

Let's look at a basic example of a privacy policy for a website that gathers pictures and information about native customs:

sample privacy policy

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