The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is a European privacy law that went into effect May 25, 2018. The GDPR regulates how individuals and organizations may collect, use, and retain personal data, which affects Squarespace and sites run on our platform.
If you have visitors or customers in the European Economic Area (EEA), the United Kingdom (UK), or Switzerland, this guide covers what you should know as a Squarespace site owner. For general information about data privacy in other parts of the world, visit Data privacy and Squarespace.
Note: This guide is available as a resource, but should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. Per our Terms of Service, Squarespace doesn't provide advice or recommendations regarding laws applicable to your site or business.
Who is affected by the GDPR?
While the GDPR is an EU regulation, it extends to organizations in other countries that service EU residents. So, it affects:
- Organizations based in the EU
- Organization outside of the EU offering goods or services to, or monitoring, EU residents
Keeping in mind that the Internet is global in nature, if you run a Squarespace site, you should review your practices and decide if you fall within the scope of GDPR.
What’s considered personal data?
Under the GDPR, personal data is any information that can reasonably identify a specific living person, either alone or with other information. This broad definition includes traditional personal data—like dates of birth, names, physical addresses, email addresses—and location data, biometric data, financial information, and more.
What did Squarespace do before the GDPR to ensure compliance?
Over the months leading up to May 2018, we worked across the company to successfully prepare for the GDPR. This included reviewing how we store and use data about our customers and on behalf of our customers.
- Published a Data Processing Addendum, or DPA, to address how we process data on your behalf.
- Entered appropriate data processing agreements with vendors that process personal data on our behalf.
- Trained all employees on our privacy and GDPR obligations.
- Updated our processes to consider data subject rights introduced under the GDPR.
- Made product changes to give you more control over data. For example, you can disable Activity Log and Analytics cookies.
- Added the ability for customers in the EU to opt out of marketing emails at signup. All customers can unsubscribe from these emails from the Account Dashboard.
Do I need to sign a DPA with Squarespace?
Cookies and similar technologies
A cookie (or such similar technology) is a text file containing small amounts of information that may be stored on your computer or mobile device ("terminal equipment”). For example, such technologies can be used by websites to:
- Identify visitors
- Enable the website to function efficiently
- Personalize content
- Permit online behavioral target advertising
Similar technologies include pixels, tags, local storage, and device fingerprinting.
In the EU, cookie laws are currently governed by the E-Privacy Directive. The cookie laws in the EU require website owners to take certain steps before dropping non-essential cookies on EU visitors. Websites that drop non-essential cookies must, through the use of a cookie banner, take the following minimum steps:
- Provide clear and comprehensive information regarding the websites cookie usage.
- Display that information prominently so visitors can easily access it.
- Obtain consent from the website visitor to drop the non-essential cookies.
The GDPR changed the concept of consent required from visitors. Before the GDPR, websites relied on implied consent, where continued use of the website was considered sufficient consent to drop non-essential cookies. Now, unambiguous consent is required, meaning the visitor must provide “clear affirmative action consent” to the use of non-essential cookies. You must obtain affirmative consent before placing non-essential cookies on visitors' devices. The website must also allow the visitor to manage their cookies preferences.
For more information on cookies and similar technologies, see the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office recent and detailed guidance on cookies and similar technologies.
How does Squarespace help me comply with GDPR and EU cookie requirements?
- Disable Activity Log so you don’t collect or see visitors’ IP addresses or other personal data.
- Disable Squarespace Analytics cookies so you don’t place these non-essential cookies on visitors’ browsers.
Squarespace gives you the editing tools to post your own legal terms or privacy policies. For example, you can:
- Add content that informs visitors about when and how you collect data anywhere you can add your own customizable text, like in Text Blocks.
- Customize the Newsletter Block with a disclaimer.
- Get consent to send marketing emails.
- Add a cookie banner with customized consent language and a link to your policies.
To learn about how to add these to your site, visit Sharing policies and terms on your site.
Note: We built tools for you to manage the cookies your Squarespace site uses, but we can’t control third-party services you use through connected accounts or code-based modifications. Review the policies for all services connected to your Squarespace site to understand your site’s cookie use.
How do I remove personal data from Squarespace?
You can access, update, or delete personal data in your account, including:
- Your account email address
- Your contributor profile
- Your connected accounts
- Expired or cancelled sites
To request that we remove other data from our system, either your own data or visitor/customer data we store on your behalf, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Using Squarespace with third-party services
The GDPR not only affects how your site processes personal data, but also how other services process data on your behalf. You can use built-in integrations to connect your site to third-party services, and other methods for integrating additional services, including:
- Connected accounts
- Code Block
- Code Injection (Which lets you use services like Google AdSense)
- Embed Blocks
- Facebook Pixel
- Form Block storage (Email, Google Drive, Mailchimp)
- Google Analytics
- Payment processors (Stripe or PayPal)
- Social Blocks
- Specific integrations or blocks (e.g., Acuity, ChowNow, Mailchimp)
Typically, third-party services accept data from, or embed content into, your site, with Squarespace acting as a pass-through for the data or displaying the content. These services may have their own terms of service, privacy policies, and other practices which are different from ours. It’s important to carefully review the policies of all services connected to your Squarespace site.
How does Squarespace transfer customer and visitor data outside the EU?
The GDPR requires certain safeguards when transferring personal data from outside the EEA, the UK and Switzerland to "third countries," which are all countries outside these protected areas, including the United States. We're committed to treating personal data received from the EEA, the UK and Switzerland (as well as personal data received from elsewhere around the world) in a secure and privacy-first way, and processing it in a way that meets the European Commission Standard Contractual Clauses.
European Commission Standard Contractual Clauses
We use Standard Contractual Clauses (also known as Model Contractual Clauses) as the legal basis for transferring personal data to third countries, including the United States. We protect your personal data and have put appropriate technical and organizational safeguards in place to meet these standards. To learn more, visit our Security Measures page.
Privacy Shield principles
On July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield. We no longer use the Privacy Shield Frameworks as the legal basis for transferring personal data to the United States. However, we continue to apply these principles for additional protection.
Other transfer requirements
Articles 45 to 50 of the GDPR set the various requirements for the lawful transfers of personal data to third countries or international organizations that provide an adequate level of protection. These include:
Third countries, specified sectors within third countries, or international organizations have adequacy if the EU Commission determined they provide an adequate level of data protection.
In the absence of an adequacy decision, the GDPR allows a transfer if the controller or processor has provided “appropriate safeguards,” which may include:
- Approved Codes of Conduct or Approved Certification Mechanisms
- Binding Corporate Rules
- Standard Contractual Clauses
Exceptions for specific situations
Exceptions allow transfers in specific situations, like if consent is obtained, or:
- For the performance or conclusion of a contract
- For the exercise of legal claims
- To protect the vital interests of the data subject when they can't give consent or for reasons of public interest
For more information, visit this guidance document from the European Data Protection Board.
We may use other transfer mechanisms to ensure adequate data protection and we'll provide more information, as appropriate, if other transfer mechanisms are used for the lawful transfers of personal data to third countries.
GDPR best practices for Squarespace sites
While we can’t offer legal advice, here are some best practices that will help you get started with your GDPR compliance.
Personal data audit
Review your website and look for areas where you collect personal data, bearing in mind the modified GDPR definition of “personal data.”
Some questions to consider:
- Do you collect personal data on your site using third-party services? (e.g., Google Analytics, a Form Block connected to Mailchimp and Google Drive). You should read the privacy policies of those services.
- Do you download or export data from your site into another system?
- Do you combine the personal data you collect with other sources of data?
- Are you gathering information you don’t need?
- What information you collect. (For example, in your terms, you can include this list of cookies your site uses.)
- Why you collect that information
- Who you share that information with
- How long you'll store that information
- If you intended to transfer such information outside of the European Economic Area.
- Any other information required under the GDPR
Where can I get more information about the GDPR?
Regulators within the EU provide specific guidance on the GDPR and Cookies. You can view their documentation here:
- The European Data Protection Board (EDPB)
- Official EU GDPR website
- Bundesministerium des Innern (Germany)
- Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (France)
- Data Protection Commission (Ireland)
- Information Commissioner’s Office (UK)
- Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (Spain)
- Full text of the GDPR
Tip: If your business is a large corporation or enterprise looking for premium support, you may require a custom solution to meet your contracting, payment, or support needs. To learn more, contact our Enterprise team.