Why All Radio Stations Need a Privacy Policy Page

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Do you take online contest information or regular contact form entries on your station or company website?  The information you accept is likely protected under certain digital privacy laws, so a privacy policy is very important.

Website privacy rights protect the personal information you collect from visitors when they visit your website.  This can include names, email addresses, and location data.  A typical intake form might be the information you collect from listeners when they sign up for contests.  Sometimes you may ask about things other than their name and e-mail address, like their date of birth and address.  The data they are giving you should be considered protected information.

Website privacy rights are necessary because they give individuals control over their personal information you have and how it’s used. Without these rights, any company or organization could collect and use that information without the owner’s knowledge or consent – leading to more unwanted marketing messages, targeted advertising, and even identity theft.

Additionally, website privacy rights ensure that websites are transparent about their data collection practices. This means that websites must inform people about what information is being collected, how it’s being used, and whom it’s being shared with. This lets our website visitors trust their decision to fill out a contest form.  If their information is being shared with the contest sponsors, they may choose not to enter.  Stations should always be upfront with that information.

Sharing someone’s information without their knowledge could be a privacy rights nightmare.  Privacy laws can impose very high penalties for violations as penalties are calculated per violation (meaning per website visitor whose privacy rights were infringed upon).  That means sharing 300 names and e-mail addresses with your contest sponsor could be 300 violations.

One of the most important website privacy rights is the right to opt out of data collection. This means that individuals can choose not to have their personal information collected by a website. So, if your station plans to share your contest or any form information with any third party, be up-front with that information and offer an opt-out option in your forms.  That might mean you can only provide your sponsor with a small percentage of the entries who opted to share their information.

Another important website privacy right is the right to request access and deletion of personal information. This means that individuals should be able to see what personal information a website has collected and request that it be deleted.

Know Your Privacy Laws

The United States and Europe have the most comprehensive data security and privacy laws; the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in 2018, while the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect in 2020.   At the time of writing, no federal laws require a business to have a Privacy Policy. But there are several laws, including federal and state laws, that have provisions on data privacy.  Some are new this year, and you can expect more states to have new laws as well.

Most only apply to large companies with large databases and those who do business only in those states.  But what about radio stations with signals that cross state lines?  Even though these apply to larger companies, someone might file a frivolous lawsuit against your small radio station.

Have a Website Privacy Policy

You’ll likely have general contest rules and even rules per contest.  It’s also good to include privacy disclosures and have an overall privacy policy for your site that covers other form submissions.

There are three main reasons why you need a Privacy Policy page:

1. Privacy Policy agreements are required by law worldwide if you’re collecting data that can be used to identify an individual.

2. Many third-party services designed to enhance your website or app, such as Google Analytics, actively require you to have a Privacy Policy that contains certain information about your use of their services.  Google Analytics requires one because it stores cookies on a user’s PC, which are then used to collect data about the user. Your privacy page should disclose your usage of Google Analytics and its cookies to be compliant.

3. Show you care. People care a lot about their privacy, especially when using their private information, such as their home addresses. Your Privacy Policy is a great way to show them that you can be trusted to care for that information.

What’s in a Privacy Policy?

While each privacy law is different, the following disclosures are typically required:

  • Personal information is being collected.
  • Where the personal information is obtained from.
  • How this personal information is used.
  • Whether that personal information is shared and with whom.
  • Whether the personal information is sold and to whom.
  • Whether a financial incentive is being offered for the information and in what way.
  • How an individual can contact the station to exercise their privacy rights, including what information they need to provide to confirm their identity.
  • How listeners can opt out of the sale of their personal information, using their personal information for targeted advertising, and collecting their geolocation information.
  • The title and contact information of the person in charge of the personal information.
  • How an individual can contact the business for questions.

If you never provide listener information to third parties, including client sponsors, it may be a good idea to have a generic privacy page so that visitors will trust you.  Here’s a sample copy.

Contests and Form Entry Privacy Policy

We are committed to protecting your privacy at {Station/Company Name}. We understand that you sometimes entrust us with your personal information, and we take that responsibility very seriously. This Privacy Policy outlines the information we collect, how we use and protect that information through contests and regular form submissions

We collect information necessary for contest registration and administration, as well as information submitted through our forms, including but not limited to your name, email address, mailing address, and any additional information you choose to provide.

The information collected is used to respond to inquiries and manage contests, including but not limited to contacting and announcing the winner, fulfilling prizes, and conducting research to improve our contests and services.

We will retain your information for as long as necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Privacy Policy. After that, we will delete or anonymize the information.

We use appropriate technical and organizational measures to secure the data collected and to prevent unauthorized access or disclosure. We do not share any information with third parties. We do not sell, rent, or share information about our customers or visitors with third parties.

You have the right to request access to, correct, or delete the personal information that we have collected. You may also have the right to request that we restrict the processing of your personal information or to object to our processing of your personal information.

If you have any questions or concerns about our privacy policy, please contact us at {company email or contact page}.

This privacy policy was last updated on {current date}. We reserve the right to update this policy as necessary and will notify our visitors of any changes.

Thank you for placing your trust in us.

It is important to note that your Privacy Policy will depend on the privacy laws that apply to you, so you must first determine those.  With increasing online activity, website privacy rights have become more important than ever. It’s important for radio stations to be aware of these rights and to take steps to protect their listener’s personal information online.

A Privacy Policy is one of the most important legal agreements for your radio station website, regardless of where you operate. This information provides a good starting point for compliance with the new and coming privacy laws. However, do not take it as a substitute for the advice of your station attorney.  Many other ancillary requirements need to be considered, like having an appeals system and other required duties that may be required.  These are much deeper than we can speak to.

We can, however, help you with creating and/or upgrading your radio station website.  Reach out to us here.

 

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