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Website policies are complex. This article briefly explains what they are and how they help you comply with laws and protect you by limiting your liability.
This information is solely for the purpose of helping you to understand the basic reasons for various website policies, and which one(s) you may need posted on your website.
What this articles does NOT do is provide legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I do not provide privacy policies as a service, and I am not responsible for your business complying with any applicable privacy laws, rules, or regulations.
The most common website policies are:
Penalties for non-compliance
The collection of PII is regulated under multiple privacy laws. Since there’s already volumes posted online regarding fines and penalties for non-compliance, I won’t go into detail. Something worth noting about penalties for non-compliance: Fines are per violation, which means that every time someone has visited your site while you were deemed non-compliant, that counts as one violation.
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. This document also helps protect you from being sued if a user clicks a link to a 3rd party site that is hacked, and then that user gets hacked.
According to the American Bar Association, websites are not required by law to post terms and conditions.
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.
DMCA Notice: A Terms of Service agreement can also provide what’s called a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) 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.
If you’re not sure whether or not you need a ToS agreement posted on your site, consult with an attorney experienced in this field, and with the laws in your state.
What is a Disclaimer and Why Would You Need One?
A Disclaimer is a document that helps limit your responsibilities and liabilities for your website in certain circumstances.
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. Most affiliate programs require you to provide a Disclaimer, and consumers want to know when you’re getting paid for links you put on your website.
Provide health and fitness advice? A Disclaimer will protect you in case the user gets injured after following your health and fitness advice.
Provide information that could be seen by others as professional 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.
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).
How to Obtain Website Policies
If you have the budget, it’s highly recommend that you hire a lawyer that focuses on privacy law to write your website policies, monitor privacy laws, and update your policies when the laws change or when new laws go into effect.
Termageddon is a comprehensive website policies generator and will update your policies when privacy laws change or new privacy laws go into effect. They help you stay compliant and avoid privacy related fines and lawsuits, and they do it at a fraction of the cost of a lawyer. Although Termageddon is a technology company (not a legal services provider), it was founded by a privacy and contracts lawyer and has been recognized as a trusted tech vendor by the largest international privacy organization in the world (iapp.org).
Termageddon ensures your website policies stay up to date with changes to the law. You will have full access to your website policies with your own Termageddon account. You will be notified when new laws go into effect, when your policies are being updated, or when new disclosures require additional questions that need to be answered.
The primary downside to using these “free” templates is that they are often not compliant. Another downside is that some templates also contain links within the copy that go to their own website.
When it comes to website policies, there’s no such thing as “One Size Fits All.” Each business may have to comply with a different set of privacy laws, and thus will have different requirements on what specifically needs to be disclosed within their website policies. As an example, if you collect personal information from users in other states or countries, you may be required to comply with those state’s privacy laws as well.
With all that said, even if you:
- remove any/all forms from your website,
- don’t use Google Analytics (or any other method to track visitors to your site),
- don’t use any third-party tools, or
- choose not to have any policies on your website,
Adding website policies to your site is a decision you will have to make.
Your Website Policies Options
Hire an attorney and provide me with your website policies to place on your website.
Choose not to have any policies on your website, or research, install, and update your policies, on your own.
As a word of caution: DO NOT copy/paste policies you’ve seen on another website. Just because website policies look the same, and you’re thinking no one reads them anyway, that doesn’t mean you can ignore copyright laws.
I set you up with a Termageddon license. There is a one time $100 setup fee to implement the policy pages and Termageddon’s code onto your website. Their license fee is $99/year. There are other policy generators available. However, as mentioned above, it’s recommended that you not use a “Free” policy generator.
Policies for your website that update when the laws change.
Protect your business from fines and lawsuits.
As a Certified Agency Partner, I charge an annual license fee of $99 (same as charged by Termageddon). In addition, there’s a one-time charge to set up the policy and place it on your website. This does not impact reviews and recommendations.