You may be thinking, what does the law have to do with my blog? Well, if your blog is on a website and collects personal information about your blog’s users and visitors, then you have to comply with the relevant data protection requirements in the UK.
Whether it’s writing a cooking recipe or documenting a health and fitness journey, there are strict legal guidelines that you should be aware of. This week, we discuss what those guidelines are.
What type of personal information is covered by the data protection requirements?
UK data protection laws apply to personal data relating to individuals who can be personally identified from that data, either directly or indirectly. Personal data includes:
- addresses, including email addresses
- dates of birth
- online identifiers, such as IP addresses
See Data protection for more information.
If you process such personal data (eg by storing or collecting it) you need to ensure that your blog complies with data protection laws. This includes having relevant documents to ensure the safety and security of your visitors’ or users’ data.
Do you know your cookies?
Cookies are small files stored on a computer’s browser by websites that can be used for various purposes, often related to marketing or advertising. They scoop information about the use of a website and can enable the website to recognise if an existing user returns to the website at a later date. For example, Google Analytics tracks how many times a user has visited a page on a website.
There are different types of cookies that vary from necessary cookies, which are essential for a user to use the features of your website, to third party cookies commonly used by advertisers to understand your habits so that the right services are advertised to you. As someone who operates a website, you need to tell your users what cookies are used, what they are doing and why, and most importantly the users’ consent to the cookies.
- opt-in consent when the user clicks on the website and they select whether they allow or do not allow cookies
- implied consent, which enables you as the website owner to automatically add the cookies onto a website and explains to a user how to disable them
Consent to cookies must be freely given, be specific and informed. In other words, the user must fully understand that they are giving consent and what they are giving consent to. Consent must also involve some form of unambiguous positive action, such as ticking a box or clicking a link.
Care must be taken to ensure that consent to cookies can be as easily withdrawn as it is given. You must therefore enable visitors to change their mind about cookies by providing an opt-out option.
As the website owner, you may want to think about protecting the content you publish and set out in your terms and conditions that users are not allowed to upload, distribute or publish your content on other websites. Similarly, if you have a comment section on your blogs that allows your users to post comments on sections throughout your blog, you may request that users not post anything illegal or which could be considered defamatory, threatening or abusive.
For more information, read How to set up your blog.