App Privacy Policies using Visual Studio Online and Free Azure Websites


When you publish a Windows Store app its a good idea to always include a privacy policy. The store specifically requires a privacy policy if your app is network connected, but I’ve found including one regardless makes the certification process easier. But putting up a privacy policy simply to support an app can be a pain. Where should you put it? Are there any samples available? Et cetera.

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In this article I’m going to show you how to host your privacy policy in a FREE azure website. I’ve also got a “starter pack” of some sample privacy policies I’ve used to get apps through certification that -may- work for you. Once you setup the Azure Website you’ll find it will be extremely easy to host additional policies for future applications as well.

STEP ONE – WRITE A PRIVACY POLICY

Sometimes other folks policies are good examples to start from. I’m not telling you to steal someone’s policy but if you can find a buddy who will let you borrow theirs it’s a good start. I’ve modified a policy for my chuckyou app and have it ready to go as a html file. In the resources section below you will also find some sample policies to review. These have been used successfully in store submissions, and generously donated to this project by the community.  Review and use at your peril. Consult a lawyer if necessary.

At this point you should download the privacy policies starter kit edit up an appropriate privacy policy.

STEP TWO – CREATE AN AZURE WEBSITE

We are going to create a very basic HTML5 website that does NOTHING but hold our privacy policies for us. Just a few HTML documents up there and that’s it. It sounds scary but its really, really easy. Step by step instructions below.

  • Head over to the Azure Management Portal and sign in – https://manage.windowsazure.com/
  • If you haven’t signed up for an Azure subscription before, you’ll have to setup one at this time.  Azure websites are free in the base form, and you will not be charged for what you do if you follow the instructions below
  • Make sure you are on the services portal not the billing setup.
  • Below you see a shot of a very empty lonely portal with no services running in it.
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  • Click Websites
  • Click Create a Web Site
  • Click From Gallery
  • Click Templates
  • Click HTML5 Empty Site
  • Click on the little arrow on the bottom right
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STEP THREE – CONFIGURE YOUR APP, ER, AH WEBSITE

  • Enter the website name for your site. Here we use devfishprivacypolicies. Note the the full url will be http://devfishprivacypolicies.azurewebsites.net
  • Leave the scaling plan as is
  • Select a geography appropriate for you. At this point try and make it close to where you live. I selected “Eastern USA”
  • Click the check-box on the lower right
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Let the portal spin away for a minute or two. In a short while you will see your Azure Website up and running in the cloud, at the URL you specified ( http://devfishprivacypolicies.azurewebsites.net ). Also note the mode indicates FREE.

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STEP FOUR – ALLOW FOR EDITING USING VSONLINE

  • Navigate to the CONFIGURE tab
  • Scroll down until can see EDIT IN VISUAL STUDIO ONLINE
  • Change the setting to ON. It should become purple
  • Scroll down to the bottom and click on SAVE to enable Visual Studio Online editing of your website
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STEP FIVE – USE VSONLINE TO PUSH A PRIVACY POLICY

  • Navigate to the Dashboard
  • On the right you will see “Edit in Visual Studio Online” – click it
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Visual Studio Online will open up your project. You’ll see the contents of the website ready to be edited. Note there’s not much there right now. Just an index.html. But we are ready to go.

    • On the upper left you will see a “…”, click the “…”, then click “Upload files”
    • Find the privacy policy HTML file you created in STEP ONE and upload it
    • You can now click on the uploaded policy.html (or whatever you called it) and edit it online if you like
    • Right-mousing the file also offers a variety of options as well
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  • Edit the file
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STEP SIX – TEST THE POLICY

Open your website then navigate to the page As an example, my privacy policy for my Chuck You app is at http://devfishprivacypolicies.azurewebsites.net/chuck-you.htm . You are finished and ready to add this to your store submission.

STEP SEVEN – MORE POLICIES

The hard work is all done. When you need new privacy policies, simply add new policies to your site! You are set for the future, and additional policies shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.  You can also think of this site as “auxiliary web storage”, using it for things like data files to be downloaded into your apps, a place for downloads, et cetera.  Enjoy…

OPTIONAL – DEPLOY YOUR PRIVACY POLICY USING FTP

You may want to setup your website so you can use FTP or FTPS to deploy files as well. Azure Websites makes this extremely easy to do. The steps below will walk you through configuring your site for FTP deployment. This will not affect your ability to use Visual Studio Online.

FTP STEP ONE – SETUP DEPLOYMENT CREDENTIALS

We need to establish the user id and password, then test a push up to the cloud. I’m going to setup a ftp account called “mazer” with password “rackham”. Don’t worry, “mazer” account won’t be live by the time this article hits my blog.

  • Click on Dashboard
  • Click on Setup Deployment Credentials
  • Enter appropriate user id and password
  • I used “mazer” as my user name
  • Click the checkbox – You will wind up back at the dashboard
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Note the user name for logging is combination of the site name plus user user name – “devfishprivacypolicies\mazer”.

FTP STEP TWO – TEST OUR FTP

  • Create another privacy policy HTML file locally
  • In the browser with the Azure Portal open, scroll down until you see “FTP Host Name” on the right – For example, my ftp host name is “ftp://waws-prod-blu-015.ftp.azurewebsites.windows.net”
  • Click on the ftp host name – a dialog will pop open asking for your user name and password.  I entered “devfishprivacypolicies\mazer” with my super-secret password. A bare bones site will open up in Internet Explorer.
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  • As indicated ( at least in Internet Explorer ) – hit Alt, View, Open FTP Site in File Explorer
  • Enter your login credentials again. You will be viewing your empty website in File Explorer
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  • Click on site
  • Click on wwwroot
  • Open a new File Explorer window (right-mouse on File Explorer, click File Explorer)
  • Open up the location where your new privacy policy you created in STEP ONE is stored
  • DRAG the policy from your local computer window to the “wwwroot” FTP window
  • Now you may test out the policy by browsing to it, as shown in STEP SIX – TEST THE POLICY above.

RESOURCES

SPECIAL THANKS to the following people for donating their privacy policies to this post:

  • Bobby Harrell – Tallahassee, FL – @btechlabs – BTech Labs
  • Joe Healy – St Petersburg, FL – @devfish – DevFish LLC and Chuck-You
  • David Mock – Orlando, FL – @glowpuff Mock – GlowPuff Ads and No Ads links
  • Luis Perez – Orlando, FL – @NeuralnetSystem – Neuralnet “under 13” and “location services” samples
Comments (3)

  1. James Quick says:

    Just created my first privacy policy in azure in about 10 minutes!  Super easy.  Check it out! jqquickprivacy.azurewebsites.net

  2. James Quick says:

    published a privacy policy for my personal developer account.  Thanks again!

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