Science

The wrong privacy policy could cost you ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars,’ says lawyer

privacy policy

One of the biggest problems app developers face isn’t customer acquisition or building the app. It’s protecting themselves and their customers through a privacy policy. Without it, many developers could face big fines and government investigations over their apps.

“It can be devastating because, although this is not a contract, a privacy policy is a summary of the way a business operates,” said Jovan Johnson, an attorney specializing in mobile apps in games with Johnson & Moo. “Companies who do not have a privacy policy can face lawsuits and investigations that are costly. We’re talking tens, hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits and fines.”

Many of the top app stores, such as Google Play and the Apple App Store, require that you have a privacy policy if you plan to use your customers’ data in any way. But that doesn’t mean that your privacy policy is the right one. Johnson explained that one of the biggest missteps in creating a privacy policy is copying one from another company. These documents need to be tailored to your company’s use — one size does not fit all, and if you wind up violating that privacy policy or using data in a way not outlined by the policy, you could be in for a world of hurt.

If you need help setting up a policy, Johnson suggests going to an attorney and building one from scratch. Of course, he is an attorney, so he has some bias there. But there are services such as TRUSTe who have premade privacy policies that you can use. You may run into the same problem as copying from another company, though.

“To be frank, a lot of those just don’t get the job done,” said Johnson. “They’re not as clear as they should be, they’re a lot longer than they need to be.”

Customers who run into policies that they feel don’t completely represent what is happening to their data can contact the app developers or the Federal Trade Commission for help. If you’re a startup looking to create a privacy policy, check out the infographic created by Johnson & Moo below to help you get started:

privacy policy infographic

Privacy image via Shutterstock