Reading privacy policies can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for. To help you protect your personal information, we’re going to go over some of the key things you should see when you read a privacy policy and why they matter.

Why does it matter?

Believe it or not, things like online shopping, posting on social media, and using apps on your phone usually involve sharing your personal information. For this reason, a good privacy policy should tell you why the business wants specific information and what they’re going to do with it.

With information from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and Get Cyber Safe, here are some tips to make sure you read and understand the key aspects of privacy policies.

What you should see in your privacy policy

  • Specific info in plain language.
    A good privacy policy should lay their information out in a way that can be understood. It should not be vague.
  • What personal information is collected.
    Is your name, birthday, location, credit card information being collected? How frequently?
  • The relevancy.
    Is the information that’s being collected relevant to the product/service? For example, does it make sense that a certain app has access to your location or to your photos?
  • How your information is being used.
    Is it to process a payment? For audience analytics or marketing purposes? Consider asking whether certain uses are optional.
  • Details about who your information is being shared with.
    Do third party advertisers have access to your information? When does this happen and what is the purpose?
  • The length of time they’ll keep your information.
    Is for a year? Forever?
  • The safety of your information.
    Do they have security measures in place to protect your data and personal information?
  • Your access to the info they have about you.
    Can you find out specifically what information is being used? Can you correct errors? Are there costs involved?
  • Someone for you to speak to.
    You should be able to contact someone to address any questions or concerns you might have about your privacy.

It’s the law

Under Canada’s privacy laws, businesses that collect personal info are required to share information about that process with you. This helps you make an informed decision about whether you’re okay with sharing your info with that business in order to use their service. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the privacy policies for the websites or apps you frequent, as they may change.

Did you like this? You might like these posts too!

Shopping online? 5 red flags to watch out for
10 easy tips to protect the personal info on your phone
How to stay safe and savvy on public Wi-Fi

About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at