Every day there are new privacy scandals: too much data collected by web apps, sharing of data with third parties without consumer authorization, using your data for nefarious purposes or just plain old data breaches by some bored teenager. With so much going on in our businesses, what are we to do to keep up with all of this?
Although there are federal regulations governing consumer data privacy, individual U.S. states have decided to take matters to the next level by proposing even stricter privacy bills to protect consumers in their states.
- General Data Protection Regulation;
- California Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003;
- California Privacy Protection Act;
- Nevada privacy law – SB 220;
Why do I need Terms of Service?
Terms of Service is a great way to answer frequently asked customer questions and protect yourself from liability. Terms of Service provides the following:
- If you sell products and services, it provides information on refunds, order cancellations and returns. This will help answer customer questions and will take them further down the path to actually buying;
- It will protect your intellectual property by making sure that everyone who goes onto your website knows that your logo, name, etc. are yours; and
- If you have links to third party sites on your website (e.g. social media links), it will help protect you in case the user gets a virus from that third party site.
Do I need a Disclaimer?
You need a Disclaimer if you do any of the following on your website:
- Display advertisements;
- Display or sell health products (e.g. vitamins and supplements);
- Participate in affiliate programs (e.g. Amazon Affiliates);
- Provide health and fitness advice or tips; or
- Provide any information or tips that could be seen as legal advice.
If you do any of the above, the Disclaimer will help you provide required disclosures, participate in affiliate programs (some programs require you to have a Disclaimer to participate) and will reduce your liability in case something goes wrong.
Do I need an End User License Agreement?
You need an End User License Agreement if you are licensing software that a user can download. An End User License Agreement will help you with the following:
- Limit your liability in case a user gets a virus or is otherwise injured by using your software;
- Help protect your income stream by making it clear that the software license may not be shared with others; and
- Protect your intellectual property by making sure that the user knows that he or she is not allowed to reverse engineer or otherwise copy your software.
Can I write these policies myself?
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 as the solution 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 unlikely to buy from companies that do not respect their privacy.
Why does this service have a recurring fee?
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. It’s best to use a proven policy generator such as Termageddon because their work is great and they automatically update the policies for you.
How do I know if I’m collecting personal information on my website?
You are collecting personal information on your website if you have a contact form that asks for the user’s name, email, or phone number. Also, you’re collecting personal information if you ask for the user’s email to sign them up for an email newsletter.