Affiliate marketing can make you a lot of money if you’re good at it. But you’re nothing without the people who check out your site.

Affiliate marketers essentially give away free information. And yet some people feel slighted when they find out you’re making money off of your recommendations. This is especially true with affiliate review sites.

On top of upset customers, your affiliate’s competitor might be a risk. Competitors have sued affiliates directly for false advertising just to knock their own competitor down a notch. It’s not fair, but it’s what could happen.

How do you protect yourself in such a sue-happy culture? Let’s talk about that.

1. Privacy Policies

Privacy policies are basically full disclosure statements. At one point, you could get away with dropping affiliate links into whatever content and nobody would be the wiser. Affiliate marketing wasn’t mainstream and it sorta fell below the normal consumer radar.

Today, everyone knows what affiliate marketing means. And it’s difficult to get away with being an affiliate without everyone and their grandma figuring it out.

You might as well just come clean and write a full disclosure privacy policy. You need to outline that you’re making money from each post. Depending on the affiliate, you might have to disclose who your affiliate is (Amazon makes you do this).

If you’re receiving revenue from tracking, you now need a cookies disclosure as well in your privacy policy.

Accountability and Trust

Apart from avoiding a collision with court, a privacy policy garners trust between you and your audience. You are telling them that you’re getting paid to say some things, but that you stand by your word. It keeps you as an affiliate marketer accountable.

2. What Legislation Do I Need to Follow

The problem with the internet is that it’s everywhere. That makes it great for revenue but not so great for protection against lawsuits from government agencies.

If you’re in Washington state, you could get sued by Europe. If you’re in Europe, you can get sued by California.

This is why you need to be wise to the three major pieces of legislation out there right now. And why, if you get into a sticky situation, you need a lawyer like Stepp & Sullivan, P.C. to get you out.


CalOPPA is the California Online Privacy Protection Act. The Attorney General’s Office of California passed this bit of fun in 2004.

It’s supposed to provide more privacy for individuals on the internet. And because of the nature of the internet, everyone is required to comply no matter location.


The European Union is one of the largest regulatory bodies in the world. And they were one of the first to pass data protection acts back in the 90s.

They now use the General Data Protection Regulation to give EU citizens a sense of security.


The Canucks had to get into the act as well. But they won’t be sending Mounties after you, only their government lawyers to enforce the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

This law covers the entire private sector and applies to any business that might interact with a Canadian citizen. Thus, it applies to internet marketers from any location, even the moon.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.