If you’re using Google Analytics or any service, take note of this post from Search Engine Land and update your privacy policy.

All you have to do is:

  • Create a privacy policy
  • State the usage of third party tracking
  • State the usage of cookies to track anonymous data

No one actually reads those terms of service agreements when downloading new software, or signing up for a service, right? Or am I the only one that clicks the checkbox without reading it? Those things could make us promise our first-born, and we would have to oblige should we get an email from legaldept@rumpelstiltskin.com.

We take it on faith that the companies we trust with our data would never put anything so sinister in their Terms of Service, but what if?

I bring this up because dealing with so much data as i do, I also deal with a lot of privacy policies. Since September every time I go through a privacy policy I’m reminded of a post from Brad Geddes at Search Engine saying that 90% of websites using a Google product are breaking at least one of their terms of service. Think about that for a second; if a small business is running an AdWords campaign, using Google Analytics, Google Places, Webmaster Tools, or any other Google Apps, etc, there is a 90% chance that the business could realistically be held responsible in a lawsuit.

Think about this scenario:

Someone, a non-Gmail user, sues Google. Why? Because Google gets sued every day, duh. The complaint of the user is that they visited a website and they didn’t know Google Analytics was tracking them.

Google’s crack legal team looks at the offending website and finds that there is no privacy policy anywhere on the website.

Google says that the website doesn’t have a privacy policy, which is a violation of the Terms and Conditions. They are the ones that should be sued.

This idea isn’t far off. Google is in enough hot water overseas from privacy hawks and anti-trust concerns. They’ve got enough headaches to worry about to come after a small business or two themselves. But in covering their own (Edit: you-know-whats), I speculate that it would be pretty easy to point the finger somewhere else just to get something off their backs.

A quick update to your privacy policy can ensure you avoid sitting in the cross-hairs.