How to make sure your Terms of Use and Privacy Policies don’t get you into trouble

This blog post contains a transcript from a video presentation. This content is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. No attorney-client privilege is created.

 

 

Most business owners are aware that they should have a Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, and if you go to pretty much any website that is reputable, on the bottom of the homepage there’s going to be a link for a Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The reason all website shave these links is that it’s required by law. The issue is that most business owners aren’t 100% sure of what the purpose of these documents are, or how important they are, so they just copy and paste these documents from other websites. However, that is not a good decision.

 

The purpose of this post is to walk you through the basics of what each document does and what its purpose is. Then we’re going to describe how to implement them properly, and how to make sure that your business is protected rather than just throwing something in there and saying, “Oh this is a Terms of Use, or this is a privacy policy”. The truth is that these documents are very basic but they’re also easy to mess up.

 

Starting with the Terms of Use…

 

The purpose of the Terms of Use is to create a set of rules that both a visitor must follow when visiting your site, but it also gives them a guideline and understanding of what they can expect from you when you visit or when they visit your site. For example: are you going to be collecting information from them? Are you going to have advertisements on your site? Do the

links to your site go to other websites that are affiliated with your company? etc. The terms of use should also set forth the kinds of products and/or services you offer as well.

 

The more detail of Terms of Use that you have, the better the document is going to be in terms of giving a customer an idea of what to expect from your business. The most common objection is that nobody thinks any visitors will take the time to read through these documents when they visit your site. However, if there is ever a legal dispute the first thing that somebody is going to do is point to your Terms of Use or Privacy Policy and try to use that against you. So, it is essential that these documents are extremely accurate. Therefore, it’s never a good idea to copy and paste Terms of Use for another business because even if your businesses both sell similar products, the way that you do it might be vastly different and even one subtle difference could have a negative effect.

 

On Privacy Policies…

 

This also ties into Privacy Policies, which are even more important, especially nowadays with data and privacy being such a big concern. The Privacy Policy will inform visitors how you will handle the personal data and information that you collect from them. This is something that is being monitored very closely by various government agencies, specifically the FTC. Especially now with the new GDPR regulations from Europe and there’s going to be new American regulations coming to follow within the next year or so. The reason this is so important is that you are bound to your Privacy Policy even more so than your terms of use.

 

For example: Let’s say that your Privacy Policy states that you’re going to collect an email address from somebody, but the only entity that will ever contact that email address is you or your business. But then, someone comes along and offers a bunch of money to market to your email list. It seems like a great business decision so you accept the offer. Now you are automatically in violation of your own privacy policy.

 

This a huge violation of not only somebody’s privacy, but as stated above a violation of your own privacy policy, There is zero tolerance from the FTC when it comes to privacy policy violations. The way the FTC enforces its powers is through fines. For example, they might only fine your business $500 per occurrence in the above scenario. But by “per occurrence” this means that they will fine you $500 for each email address on the list. So even if you only have 1,000 people on your email list this violation could result in $500,000 worth of fines.

Can your business handle a five hundred thousand dollar fine because you didn’t take enough responsibility and pay attention to your own Privacy Policy?

 

Your Terms of Use and Privacy Policies must accurately reflect your business practices.

 

Therefore, it is extremely important that your Privacy Policy must accurately reflect your business practices. Never copy and paste a privacy policy because you have no idea- 1) Where they got their privacy policy from, and 2) Even if your businesses are similar, if you deviate from that business by even one thing you’re leaving yourself up to massive liability in terms of violating your own Privacy Policy. It’s such a stupid thing to violate because you’re the one that’s creating the rules. You’re the one that’s creating the policy.

 

T0 violate the policy that you created is just such a bonehead move, and I see so many businesses doing it. Please don’t be that business owner.

 

Now, there should also be a link on this page (CLICK HERE) that gives you a chance to download for free a template Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. This is a very basic boilerplate document. So if you’re really strapped for cash and you can’t afford an attorney, or even a moderately priced service, you can download the free Terms of Use of Privacy Policy templates. (HERE) This will give your business a solid foundation. I wrote them myself, so I know what’s in them.

 

They’re very boilerplate, they’re very basic, but they do give your business enough freedom to operate. Especially in the early stages while you build yourself up, you’ll still be protected. Once you have a little bit of money I highly recommend getting CLickLaw. You can click the “register” button on the top of this page.  ClickLaw is a platform which will give you unlimited custom legal documents for a year, with options to renew.

 

These documents will be custom tailored to your business and you’ll be able to not only create them for your business right now, but update them anytime you want to make a change to your business. All you have to do is recreate the document and change the answers to the questions. Or you can edit the documents yourself. All you have to do to create these documents is answer a few basic yes/no questions, and fill in the blank questions. The documents will then be completely customized specificly to your business.

 

Don’t let this information slip through your fingers. Do the right thing for your business, put a strong legal foundation in place. Thank You for stopping by. We really appreciate it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *