WEBSITE POLICIES

The Importance of Privacy Policies, Terms & Conditions, Disclaimers & Cookie Policies

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We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. We do, however, believe that this information is important and ask all of our clients to acknowledge that we have provided you with this information by choosing a Privacy Policy option using the link that was emailed to you.

What is a Privacy Policy?

A Privacy Policy helps website owners comply with privacy laws by providing specific disclosure requirements such as how their website collects, uses, and discloses personally identifiable information and more.

A comprehensive Privacy Policy is required to comply with privacy laws
Today's modern websites are built to provide a great user experience and motivate prospective customers to reach out and inquire about what you have to offer. This is done through the use of tools such as contact forms, website analytics, and more.

Contact forms ask users to submit their 'name' and 'email', which are examples of personally identifiable information. When a website uses analytics, it collects each visitor's IP address and shares that personally identifiable information with third-party data analytics providers. These are just a few examples of the many ways websites collect and share personally identifiable information.

Penalties for non-compliance
The collection of personally identifiable information is regulated under multiple privacy laws. For example, in the US, there are four state privacy laws that can apply to businesses, regardless of their location, and fines for non-compliance start at $2,500 per "infringement" (per website visitor). Each of these privacy laws has specific disclosure requirements that have to be added to your Privacy Policy to be compliant.

On top of that, over two dozen privacy bills have been proposed on a state-level, each with their own unique disclosure requirements and penalties for not complying. Some of these bills will enable citizens to sue businesses (of any size or location) for collecting their personally identifiable information without an up to date and compliant Privacy Policy. Due to the ever-changing nature of privacy laws, we recommend that you not only have a comprehensive Privacy Policy in place but that you also develop a strategy to keep your policies up to date when these laws are amended or when new laws are implemented.

Google requires your website to have a Privacy Policy
Outside of the legal requirements, Privacy Policies are required to use popular third-party tools. For example, a website utilizing Google Analytics is required by Google to have a Privacy Policy. You can find this requirement within section 7 of Google's Terms of Service.

People expect to see a Privacy Policy
These days with privacy issues all over the news (does Facebook pop into mind?), people have come to expect that companies be transparent with how they use a visitor's data. If a Privacy Policy link isn't found on a website, it can lead to mistrust. Demonstrating that you are willing to follow privacy laws can go a long way towards retaining your existing customers and can even gain you new customers as well.

What is a Terms of Service Agreement?

A Terms of Service Agreement limits the liability of businesses by stating the rules to using the website.

Example disclosures
Third-party links: When a website offers links to third-party websites, a Terms of Service can help explain to users that the business is not responsible if a user clicks those links. So, if a third-party link brings a user to a hacked website, the Terms of Service disclosure can help prevent you from being sued.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice: A Terms of Service agreement can also provide what's called a DMCA notice, which helps prevent a business from being sued by providing contact information in case the website is accidentally using copyrighted material (like images or content).

There are many additional disclosures that a Terms of Service can make, but these two are the most popular and are easy ways to protect your website and your business.

What is a Disclaimer?

A Disclaimer is a document that helps limit your responsibilities and liabilities for your website in certain circumstances.

Does your website:

Advertise third-party products or services? A Disclaimer will help you protect yourself if a user clicks on the third-party advertisement and gets a virus, is somehow injured by the product or service, or is not happy with the third-party product or service

Sell or display health products? A Disclaimer will help you protect yourself in this case if the health products do not work as they should, do not deliver the results that were expected or if the user gets injured by the health products.

Participate in an affiliate program? An affiliate program is a program whereby you list a particular link on your website and, if the user clicks on that link or purchases the products that the link displays, you receive money from the manufacturer of that product. A Disclaimer will help you comply with the affiliate program's Terms of Service as most affiliate programs require you to provide a Disclaimer and will help you keep your user's trust.

Provide health and fitness advice? A Disclaimer will protect you in case the user gets injured after following your health and fitness advice, much like the beginning of those exercise videos that you will watch in January of next year.

Provide information that could be seen by others as legal advice? A Disclaimer will protect you here by stating that there is no attorney client relationship here and that this advice is not legal advice, thus protecting you in case something goes wrong.

What is a Cookie Policy and cookie consent banner?

Cookies are little snippets of code that get inserted into the user's browser and device when visiting a website. They can help ensure a website properly functions (aka essential and functional cookies). They can also track website visitors for analytics and advertising purposes (aka marketing cookies). Several privacy laws require users to provide consent prior to implementing non-essential cookies on their browsers. This is commonly done through a cookie consent banner, which will ask your website visitors to choose their consent settings. It is important to identify what privacy laws apply to you, and determine if you are required to provide a cookie consent solution on your website along with a Cookie Policy further describing the purpose of each cookie.

FAQ

Does my website really need a Privacy Policy?

Currently, the following laws require Privacy Policies for most websites: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); UK Data Protection Act 2018; California Online Privacy and Protection Act of 2003 (CalOPPA); California Privacy Protection Act (CCPA); Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA); Delaware Online Privacy and Protection Act (DOPPA); Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 603A; There are also about a dozen other states that are proposing their own privacy laws that would require most businesses to have a Privacy Policy and would affect how that Privacy Policy is written, requiring you to make changes on a pretty regular basis.

Can I write these policies myself?

While technically you could write these policies yourself, we do not recommend that you do so. There are a lot of laws, cases and legal opinions on how to write these policies correctly. If you have not spent years studying law and cases, it is very likely that the policy you write would be incomplete, incorrect and non-compliant. Also, there are currently a lot of new privacy laws that are being proposed and passed, meaning that you'd have to constantly stay up to date with these laws and amend your Privacy Policy yourself every time. This would take a lot of time and effort on your part and would take you away from your actual business.

Can I ask my attorney to write these policies for me?

If you have a data privacy attorney on staff, you should definitely ask him or her to write this up for you. Just as a heads up, if you want to ask your outside attorney to draft these for you, that's a great idea but it may be a bit pricey. Also, lawyers that do not work in the privacy field often use Termageddon solutions for their Privacy Policies so that's something to think about as well.

Is my business too small for anyone to care about this?

Some of the laws that are being proposed or passed do not limit enforcement and liability to large companies only, so your small business could be liable as well. Also, consumers do not distinguish between small and large businesses when it comes to protecting their privacy and are less likely to buy from companies that do not respect their privacy.

Why is the Termageddon service a recurring fee?

There are a growing number of privacy bills in the US, with over two dozen that may require website Privacy Policies to be updated with new disclosure requirements. Penalties for non compliance can be substantial, with fines starting at $2,500 per infringement (aka per website visitor). A key component of Termageddon's offering is that their team monitors privacy laws, notifies you when the laws have changed and can even update your policies automatically with these new disclosure requirements. In other words, Termageddon monitors privacy laws so you don't have to.

Can I just copy and paste the Privacy Policy of someone else?

You could try and copy and paste someone else's Privacy Policy, rewrite it to fit your website and then paste it onto your website. However, by doing so, you'd be committing copyright infringement, which could get you sued. Also, you don't know whether that policy is compliant with the current laws and it won't auto-update for you, meaning that you'll have to keep track of the changes to the law which are increasing. Having us generate a policy for you is much easier, less time consuming and safer.

Can I use a template?

Using a template that you found online is definitely tempting, especially since there are so many free ones out there. However, when you use a template, you can't be sure who wrote it so you don't know whether it's correct or even compliant with the legal requirements. Also, a template does not automatically update, meaning that you'll have to keep track of all of the constantly changing laws, which I'm going to guess is something that you don't have time for.

My site has a secure certificate, so do I still need a Privacy Policy?

While having a secure site is awesome, it's not related to the need to have a Privacy Policy.

There is currently no privacy laws in my state, so do I still need a Privacy Policy?

The laws that are in place and that are proposed protect the residents of that state, not the businesses. As you know, people from California aren't just going to websites of businesses located in California, they go to websites all over the United States. This means that you need a Privacy Policy on your website, regardless of where you are physically located.