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Establishing an online presence for your startup is essential for attracting investors and customers alike. However, you need to ensure you do so while fully complying with privacy law. For example, one of the regulations you need to follow includes telling people how you deal with their personal information, which you can do with a privacy policy. Therefore, this article will provide some background and explain who you can write a privacy policy when building a website for your startup.

Privacy Law in New Zealand

In New Zealand, you need to ensure that you comply with privacy law when your startup deals with any personal information. In this case, personal information refers to any information about an identifiable person, and it includes:

  • names;
  • photos;
  • IP addresses;
  • email addresses
  • phone numbers; or 
  • financial details.

Privacy Act

You also need to comply with the Privacy Act guidelines, which include:

  • lawfully collecting personal information for a legitimate purpose;
  • telling individuals what information you are collecting and how you will use it;
  • using data only for the purpose stated at the time of collection;
  • only collecting personal information when necessary;
  • only storing information for as long as you need it;
  • letting individuals access and correct the personal information you hold about them;
  • applying reasonable security measures to information according to its sensitivity;
  • not using data in a way your customers or employees would not expect;
  • only sharing personal information where you have consent or the law requires it;
  • disposing of information securely;
  • having a privacy officer at your business; and
  • reporting privacy or data breaches where they are likely to cause serious harm.

Why Do I Need a Privacy Policy?

By law, you must provide important information for people whose personal information you handle during the course of business. In addition, you must tell these people certain information by law, and the easiest way to do so is with a privacy policy. If not, you risk facing fines and other legal action.

In addition to being a legal requirement, many investors and customers will expect a privacy policy and other privacy protection measures when dealing with your startup. Therefore, if you do not reassure them about your commitments to privacy with these measures, then they may be less likely to do business with you. In particular, investors today do not want to take on privacy-related risks.

What Does a Privacy Policy Include?

Firstly, the exact contents of your privacy policy varies according to your type of startup and the personal information you deal with. However, as part of your privacy law obligations, you need to take reasonable steps to tell people:

  • that you are collecting certain information, and why;
  • whether any laws require that you collect their personal information;
  • who has access to their information;
  • whether they can opt out of giving you their personal information;
  • the consequences of not giving you their personal information;
  • that they have the right to ask for access and corrections to their information; and
  • how they can contact you for privacy-related concerns.

At the bare minimum, your privacy policy or privacy statement should include clauses that detail this information. Additionally, you need to make a clear distinction between what information you automatically collect from website visitors (such as cookies) and what they actively give you (such as their email for newsletter sign up, or their contact information for communicating about services).

An effective privacy policy can protect your startup against legal liability, so it is important that you are explicit in the content it covers. Additionally, before you upload your privacy policy to your website, you need to ensure that you are actually complying with it as well.

When Writing Your Privacy Policy

To function efficiently, your startup’s website privacy policy needs to be:

  • written in plain language;
  • easily understandable;
  • explicit and comprehensive; and
  • easily findable.

Therefore, you should use bullet points and headers to break up your clauses, and avoid jargon wherever possible. You should focus on readability so that customers can easily understand what they agree to when they give you their personal information. Additionally, be sure to establish what this acceptance looks like. For instance, you can try to gain active acceptance through a tickbox.

Furthermore, if your startup deals with international customers and investors (which you are likely to as an online entity), you also need to tailor your privacy policy for international laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Importantly, a privacy lawyer can help you write your privacy policy in the most effective way and cover the legal aspects it needs to protect your business.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, your website for your startup will likely collect personal information from its users, such as tracking cookies for advertising purposes. Therefore, you need to comply with New Zealand privacy law, which includes telling people that you are dealing with their personal information. A privacy policy is a good place to do this, and a well-written privacy policy can protect your startup against legal liability. If you would like more information or help with writing your privacy policy, contact LegalVision’s New Zealand IT lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is personal information?

Personal information is any data that could identify a living person. Examples include names, photographs, or IP addresses.

What is a privacy policy?

A privacy policy is a legal document. It tells people that you collect their personal information, how you use it, and why. Most country’s privacy laws will require such a document.

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