Last updated on 14 January 2022 by William Blesch (Legal and data protection research writer at TermsFeed)
For instance, they may not believe they need such a document because their websites don't get much traffic, and so almost no one sees their sites anyway.
They might simply use their websites as a business card with some portfolio work and contact information.
However, the freelancers mentioned above and those beyond the amateur stage and making a real business out of their freelancing efforts are all subject to the same rules as other companies, even if it's just one person running the show.
Protecting information is essential when just about every aspect of a business depends upon it. It's even more important to protect private, personal information that belongs to you or those who visit your website. Forget about business for a moment. The truth is that what someone does with someone else's private information can have a profound impact on that individual's life.
Data is priceless.
It will also detail who has access to that information, how long you plan on keeping it in your possession, and how you will store it during that time. If you share data with any third party, you should be transparent about that and about any security measures you've taken to keep data safe.
Here are some examples of personal information that many freelancers collect about an individual (for instance, when someone completes an online form to download a free report):
Suppose you collect information through a survey or require in-depth demographic information before allowing someone access to more valuable content. In that case, you may ask for even more information such as:
Here's a quick example from freelance consultant Arman Assadi:
Just a few of the laws around the world that demand Privacy Policies are the following:
A website or business that collects or processes user data in a specific country or region must be fully informed about the privacy protection laws and data regulations in that area.
Larger companies like Facebook can pay immense, $5 Billion fines, sometimes without batting an eye. A court probably won't levee a fee like that against you, but depending on how many violations you've wracked up, penalties could easily put you out of business for good.
As a freelancer, there may be a few more clauses you'd like to include. For instance, you may wish to address what happens with information you may collect when a client contracts with you. You might also have a clause on data collection through email correspondence and data gleaned through mailing lists.
Without further ado, let's dive a bit deeper into each of these clauses.
The bottom line is that users are entitled to see what sort of data you collect from them up front and from the very beginning of their interactions with you.
Here's a portion of one of the most comprehensive examples of this type of clause ever seen on a freelancer's website, courtesy of copywriter Ben Settle:
Consider the fact that two freelancers might collect the same kinds of data. Say they both have forms on their websites, which collect names and email addresses. One may only use that information to provide a digital product to the potential client, while the other may also share that name and email address with third parties.
Clearly, these two freelancers don't use the information they collect in precisely the same ways. However you use the data you collect, always opt for full disclosure.
This is a big issue for freelancers since most don't have good Privacy Policies (which is a huge mistake), let alone methods in place to secure the data they collect. With that said, any personal information you collect from an individual should be kept safe.
If your freelance business is just you, you must have a way to ensure that only you have access to the data you collect. If you have others working with you, then you must use appropriate security measures to ensure that only authorized persons can access it.
The subject of data security is one that you cannot ignore. Recall that over the past few years, data breaches have affected millions of internet users. Many companies were subject to severe financial and legal consequences.
For instance, the consumer credit reporting agency, Equifax, was fined over $575 Million for a breach that occurred in 2017.
The point here is that if you store personal information, it is your responsibility to ensure that it does not get lost or misused. Further, keep in mind that you can gain or lose potential clients based on how they feel about your efforts to keep their data safe and secure.
Here's an example from Enchanting Marketing that's written in personal terms:
This section can be as easy as listing the third parties with whom you share data along with your reasons for doing so.
Here's how Ben Settle writes this clause:
If you're a freelancer that uses any kind of advertising (such as through Facebook or Google's ad platforms) you must inform users about any tools used to collect information about them and track their behavior. That includes cookies.
Here's Enchanting Marketing's version:
You can provide this information in any format that you choose, including email addresses, postal addresses, or links to online forms.
Ben Settle names his contact section "Questions and Concerns" but he places all contact information there and so satisfies the need to provide those details to his clients:
This clause essentially outlines what happens with any information that a potential client hands over either online or offline in the process of engaging your services.
Precisely as it sounds, this section details how you handle information delivered to you by clients through email. Here's an example, again from Laurence Blume:
Similar to the email correspondence section, this is one that essentially acts as a notification that you typically add those who fill out forms on your website to an email list (one more from Laurence Bloom):
If you collect data of any kind, there's a good chance that you're required by law or by third-party services to post that agreement to your website.
It's, therefore, a very good idea to be familiar with which privacy laws impact the geographic region in which you run your freelance business.
Finally, remember to include sections on:
First, you don't know whether they've written their policy in a professional manner that meets legal requirements. Secondly, their data practices may be completely different from your own.
This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.
14 January 2022