As online course providers, complying with applicable privacy law is important, because it’s inevitable that we’ll be collecting personal information along the way.

Running our own site

For example, if we’re running your own site, we may have sign-up forms for people to subscribe by email to our blog posts or to obtain lead magnets. If so, we’ll be collecting personal information when people sign up. If people contact us through our online contact form, we’ll probably be obtaining personal information. If we’re hosting our course on our own site, we’ll be collecting information about our customers when they purchase and take our course. We’ll be collecting people’s email addresses and probably their names and we might be collecting, among other things, information about where they’re from.

Using an online course platform

If we’re using an online course platform, we’ll still be collecting personal information from people or we’ll be obtaining personal information about people. Technically the platform may facilitate the collection but usually we will have access to information about the people who have signed up to our course, such as their names, email addresses, and activity in relation to our course. Depending on the platform, we may be able to collect, store and use other personal information as well.

This all has privacy implications for us

We need to understand what the law that applies to us requires, and we need to know how to comply with that law. A major component of that is understanding whether we need a privacy statement or privacy notice and, if we do, what it needs to cover and where we need to place it. If we breach the applicable privacy laws, we could be subject to reputational damage, complaints could made against us to privacy regulators, and in some countries we could be on the receiving end of substantial penalties. I cover this important topic in detail in my course Online Courses and Legal Stuff (for the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand), but am mentioning it here in case people aren’t aware of their privacy law-related obligations.

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