Why are Privacy Policies and Terms of Service Important for Your Website?

Privacy policies and terms of services page aren't the most exciting pages on a website, but are some of the most important. Legally, websites in almost every country must provide a privacy policy. The laws are looser when it comes to terms of service, but both are a vital element of any website. 

What is a Privacy Policy?

The privacy policy is how you transparently tell visitors to the website how you collect, utilize, and protect their personal information. This would include information you collect on your website with contact forms. It can also include, but is not limited to:

  • Names
  • Email addresses
  • Contact information
  • Date of birth
  • IP address
  • Phone numbers
  • Mailing address

It would also cover any financial information you may collect for online payments, such as credit or debit card numbers. 

Why a Privacy Policy Matters

Having a privacy policy is a legal requirement if you acquire or track user data. This is true even if all the website does is track the visitor’s actions on your website, uses cookies or has a simple contact form. Depending on where your users originate, the privacy policy may need to comply with the standards set in both the U.S.,  Europe and other countries. Requiring the user to agree to the privacy policy when they subscribe to a service, create an account or simply browse your website.

Having a privacy policy ensures they are aware of the website’s policies and how you protect PII (Personally Identifiable Information).

A privacy policy might also be a requirement for any third-party services used by the website, such as Google Analytics or Google Adwords. Providing a privacy policy also tells the user something about how you do business. It says your privacy is important, and they should feel their data is secure when browsing your website. 

As alluded to earlier, many states and countries have laws requiring websites to have privacy polices. Here is a list of the current countries and U.S. states with privacy laws and also a list of upcoming laws.

You may think, my business is in a state that currently doesn't have a privacy law, does that mean I'm not affected? You are probably at risk. Most websites don't block users from other states or countries. That means if you are located in Arizona, which currently doesn't have an online privacy laws, and a user from Nevada browsed your site and filled in your contact form to ask a question about a product or service, you could be at risk of fines and possible lawsuits.

termageddon privcy policy subscription

What are Terms of Service? 

Terms and Conditions, Terms of Use, or Terms of Service all provide details on the rights and responsibilities of anyone the uses the website. The Terms of Service are not required by law like a privacy policy, but it is a good idea. The Terms of Service is a contract between the user and the owner of the website that says content and other aspects of the site are the intellectual property of the website owner. If a user violates any of these terms, that owner of the website may take legal action.

Why the Terms of Service Matter

The Terms of Service protects your website in two ways;

  • If the user makes a claim against your business or website. 
  • As the website owner, you need to take legal action against a user for some reason.

What you put on the terms of service page is critical, as well. The policies will depend on the purpose of the website. These are common features in Terms of Service.

Country of Governance -  A statement of what nation, state and county governs the laws that apply to the Terms of Service. If the website is based in the US, it would be US laws, for example. 

Limited Liability - Limited liability exempts you, as the website owner, from liability that arises for information errors on the website. For example, if there is a discussion board on the website, you would not be responsible for content posted there. 

Abuses of the Site - You would list anything that you would consider an abuse of the site. It would vary by industry, but an art gallery might consider downloading images an abuse, for instance. 

A Statement About Changes - This states that you have the right to change the Terms of Use at any time with or without informing the user. If you allow log-ins or offer subscriptions on your website, it’s a good idea to proactively notify users of changes.

You can expect that the privacy and terms of use pages will not be the most visited pages on your website, but that doesn’t mean they are not essential. There can be legal consequences, including fines, if you fail to add these critical pages to your website.

How we can help

We are seeing more momentum around the implementation or strengthening of privacy laws for any website collecting information. This includes not only data such as user name and email address but areas you might not think of including website analytics and advertising pixels. 

Make sure your site and business are protected with a privacy policy, terms of service and provide a disclaimer if you offer health or legal advice. 

To help our clients navigate the complex privacy laws and make certain your site is compliant, we have partnered with Termageddon to provide these important pages for your website. As laws change the pages are automatically updated with the latest information so you don't have to visit an attorney every six months. Contact us for more information.

termageddon privcy policy subscription


Privacy Policy, terms of service

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