Creating a Privacy Policy for Your App

Your app may be rejected without one!

Creating a Privacy Policy for Your App

After you’ve created an app — you’ve come up with an idea and spent months building a great product — the next step is to start selling it in the app stores. But before you can do that, you have to create a Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Like it or not, Apple and Google will reject your app if it doesn’t contain both of these documents. There are a few different ways to create a Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for your app, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.

Hire a lawyer

The best way to create a Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for your app is to work directly with a lawyer who specializes in drafting these kinds of documents day in and day out. Between GDPR in Europe, COPPA in the US, and state-specific laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), there’s a lot to consider when drafting these documents for your app. And getting it wrong can spell legal liability for your company.

That said, hiring a lawyer to draft custom documents for you can be expensive and time-consuming. I worked with a lawyer for one of my apps. It’s always bugged me how long and convoluted Terms of Use usually are, and I hired a lawyer hoping to make mine concise and readable. Well, many hours and thousands of dollars later, that app’s Terms of Use is still thousands of words long and quite convoluted.

Borrow from other apps

Another option is to copy these documents from another app and then customize the text to the specifics of your app.

While this can save you a lot of money, it is time-consuming. There are also a couple big risks you take if you go this route. Technically, these documents — which cost companies thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars to create — are covered under copyright law. While it’s unlikely you’d be sued for using someone else’s copyrighted work like this, as a general rule I try not to break the law when running my company.

Also, if you customize a document you don’t understand, there’s always a risk that the changes you make could create legal liabilities for you.

Whether you draft custom documents or modify someone else's, you’ll need to keep your Privacy Policy and Terms of Use updated over time. That custom Terms of Use document I drafted for one of my apps was written a couple years before GDPR went into effect. Thankfully, I’m pretty sure GDPR doesn’t apply to that app (since it automatically deletes all data and doesn’t collect personal data), but I should still probably pay a lawyer to review the document.

Use a service

The option that I think provides the best balance of risk, cost, and time investment is to use a service that provides policy templates you can customize. A good service will ask you very specific questions about the different kinds of data you collect and how it’s used, then build Privacy Policy and Terms of Use documents for you based on templates created by lawyers. Plus, they will continually update those templates and questionnaires based on evolving software use and privacy laws.

Personally, I’ve used iubenda and have been happy with it. But these days, there are a lot of options to choose from. Shopify even has their own version to make it easy for Shopify store owners to generate these documents. 

Will Apple and/or Google ever do that for app creators? I’m not holding my breath. So here are a few third-party services that seem to do the job:

Iubenda

  • Offers a free plan (with limited features)
  • Customizable paid plans
  • Recurring monthly or annual fees (around $39/month)
  • Automatically updates policies over time
  • Hosts your legal documents for you
  • Offers 14-day refunds

Termly

  • Offers a free plan (with limited features)
  • Free legal documents require attribution
  • Unlimited legal documents with paid plans; free plan is limited to 1
  • Provides free Cookie Consent policy (for up to 100 unique visitors/month)
  • Hosts your legal documents for you
  • Automatically updates policies over time
  • Pro plan costs $20/month (billed monthly) or $10/month (billed annually)
  • Multi-language support
  • Detects user region and displays consent requests in compliance with local laws

TermsFeed

  • Offers a free plan (with limited features)
  • One-time fees for premium plans (no recurring costs)
  • Customized templates cost between $13 and $72
  • Hosts your legal documents for you, or you can download them
  • Automatically updates policies over time and notifies you of changes
  • Compliant with GDPR, CCPA, and CalOPPA
  • Provides free templates for a Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, Cookies Policy, and EULA Agreement

Privacy Terms

  • Offers a free plan for 1 Privacy Policy and 1 Terms & Conditions (with limited features)
  • Free legal documents require attribution
  • One-time fees (no recurring costs)
  • Paid plans are compliant with GDPR, CalOPPA, CPPA, and COPPA
  • Some paid plans include a Cookie Policy
  • Hosts your legal documents for you (free for up to 10k monthly views)
  • Provides a discount for bulk orders
  • Offers 30-day refunds

GetTerms

  • Offers a free plan (with limited features)
  • One-time fees (no recurring costs)
  • Doesn’t provide much guidance
  • Custom templates cost between $15 and $29
  • Multi-language support (+$10 per additional language)

Which one of these you should choose depends on your budget and specific business needs. As you decide, consider your level of legal expertise, how much you’re able (and willing) to spend on one-time or recurring fees for legal services, and which regional and international privacy laws you need to comply with.

Conclusion

Whether you hire a lawyer, use a service, or draft your Privacy Policy and Terms of Use yourself, the most important thing is to make sure you’re covering your bases. You need to disclose every kind of data you collect and how you use it, and ensure you’re compliant with any applicable privacy laws as well as Apple’s and Google’s requirements.


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