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  • Writer's pictureAnne-Marie Hayden

Tips on simplifying privacy communications

Consent is a cornerstone principle of private sector privacy law in Canada. Guidance on consent often emphasizes that notices need to be in plain, easy-to-understand language for the consent to be meaningful. If a company can't show they've obtained meaningful consent, they may find themselves not complying with the law and the consequences can be serious.

The thing is, the guidance out there doesn’t often tell you exactly how to do that in practical terms.

In a speech to professionals working in records management, information management and privacy, I offered a few concrete tips on how to improve privacy communications. These are just a few of the techniques I use when drafting or editing clients' privacy communications.

Here are my top 10 takeaways:

  1. You’re almost always writing for online, so apply best practices in web writing when drafting privacy notices and policies.

  2. Make sure your sentences are short and concise, with one idea each.

  3. Use action words and avoid the passive voice.

  4. Eliminate jargon, acronyms and abbreviations.

  5. Use sub-heads – they make your text scannable.

  6. Use bullets and numbered lists (like this one) instead of paragraphs.

  7. Lead with the “top tasks” – the main reason people go to that page.

  8. Use layers to point to more in-depth or detailed information for those who want a deeper dive.

  9. Ask someone who’s less familiar with your subject matter to review and critique it.

  10. Run your content through readability and accessibility tests that are available on most word processors.

Applying these best practices can help your organization be more clear and transparent about its privacy practices. Even easier than applying these tips yourself… reach out to people like me to help you!

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