When creating a blog, a corporate website, an eCommerce site, or even a social media platform, you’d spend weeks perfecting your ‘About Us’ page, your landing pages, and other web copy. You’d probably enjoy working on these exciting sections until you reach the links at the bottom of the page labeled ‘Privacy Policies’ and ‘Terms of Service’.
Yet, you should define not just Privacy Policies but also the Terms of Service, which sets the rules for using your website.
Required by Law
In the US, several data protection laws are in place that cover certain circumstances and demographics. The most recognized one is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which regulates websites that:
- Are targeted towards children aged under 13, regardless of whether they collect any data or not, and
- Are not targeted towards children but knowingly obtain information from children under 13.
The most recent law similar to the above is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that was passed in January 2020. It outlines certain regulations that must be met by websites meeting defined criteria and are accessible within the US. Based on these regulations, a website can collect a child’s data if their guardian or parent provides consent for this.
Any country that forms part of the European Economic Area (EEA) is required to ensure compliance with certain principles. The following are some features of the law:
- The information acquired should be limited to that which is reasonably necessary for the purpose of the website
- How users may access their data
- How the data is protected
- The Accountability of the website collecting data
The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) was enacted across the EEA in May 2016. Based on these regulations, any company with a website accessible from Europe must comply with the GDPR, no matter where the business is based
Certain platforms and programs, such as Amazon Affiliates and Google AdSense, or even a simple blog, earn by providing advertising space on their sites. Websites take part in these schemes for website monetization. But before they can do so, they must have clearly defined website policies on their sites as the schemes involve sharing of user data.
- The specific information that your website will collect from visitors
- In the case that cookies are used on the website, what impact it may have on user experience, and how to opt out of it
- How the data will be collected
- How the data will be utilized, and whether or not it will be shared with any third-party
- How the data is protected or secured from unauthorized access or misuse
- How users can opt out of data sharing, and what that means for them
What Are Terms of Service (ToS)?
It also outlines the intellectual rights of the website owner and what action may be taken against a user who violates the terms or infringes the intellectual property (IP).
Importance of Terms of Service
Since the Terms of Service statement forms the legal basis of the website’s relationship with a user, you should certainly include it on your website. In the event that a user makes a claim against your business or website, or you need to sue a user for some reason, the Terms of Service (ToS) will serve as the basis for assessing how valid the complaint is.
Hence, you should not only have the Terms of Service page on your website, but also ensure that it’s strong enough to limit your liability and to protect you in case you face legal action.
Creating a Terms of Service Page for Your Website
As far as the content of the statement is concerned, the exact terms will vary depending on the type of website and the services it offers. But to give you an idea, here are some of the common features of the Terms of Service:
Country of Governance
This is where you should disclose the name of the country where your website is based and thus, the nation whose laws govern the Terms of Service.
Limitation of Liability
You might want to state that any content shared by a third-party on your site is by no means endorsed by the owner of the site and doesn’t represent their opinion.
Abuses of the Site
This particularly applies to any site that allows users to post content and/or engage with the posted content. In this section, you should detail the activities or situations that would be regarded as abuses of the website and what would be the consequences of such actions.
The Change Clause
You may want to notify the users of any changes to the terms through emails or by including a notice on the website. Yet, be sure to add the change clause, stating that the responsibility of checking any amendments in the agreement rests on the users of the site.
We partner with a service that was created by a lawyer that generates your various policies and keeps them up to date when laws change automatically. If you are working with us on a new website design, ask us about this. It’s fabulous and, for what you get, the price can’t be beat!
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