States are proposing laws that will allow consumers to sue businesses anywhere in the US for not having a compliant Privacy Policy. – Termageddon

Adding policies to your website is a decision you will have to make. Don’t wait until it is too late. If you know NOTHING about privacy policies or disclaimers or terms of conditions, if you have been thinking of getting some website policies (Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, Disclaimer, EULA, Cookie Policy, Cookie Consent) or someone recently mentioned that you needed one then you probably already know this is something you NEED to be looking into. A good website policy can save you from being sued and thousands of dollars in the long run.  This article helps explain what website policies are and how they help you comply with laws and also protect you by limiting your liability.

3 Common Website Policies You Need Right Now!3 Common Website Policies you need:

The three most common types of website policies are the Privacy Policy, Terms of Service & Disclaimer. These are probably the most important but you should also consider looking into these other website policies as well including a Cookie Policy, Cookie Consent, EULA and an Accessibility Statement. Here are the 3 most common types of website policies and everything you need to know about them:

  1. Privacy Policy
    1. May be required under multiple privacy laws
    2. Required to utilize several third-party tools
    3. Can apply to businesses of any size and location
  2. Terms of Service
    1. Limits your liability for potential copyright infringements and third-party links
    2. Answers commonly asked customer questions
    3. Sets the rules for using your website
  3. Disclaimer 
    1. Limits your liability (if applicable)

Now with that said, we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice.  But as your website designer it is our responsibility to make sure that you know the importance of  a website policy and what you are risking by not having one. So read on, learn and protect yourself and your business!

1. What is a Privacy Policy?

A privacy policy is a public legal document on your website that helps you comply with privacy laws by providing specific disclosure requirements such as how their website collects, uses, and discloses personally identifiable information and more. In essence it covers you for all of the privacy laws so that you cannot be easily sued.

Why do I need a Privacy Policy on my Website?

If you do not have a Privacy Policy right now then you are fair game if you have a contact form on your site or you use any type of analytics, like Google Analytics (which 99% of the sites we build DO have).

Most privacy laws protect consumers by making businesses such as yourself disclose WHAT information they collect, HOW LONG they store it and HOW they can request that information be removed. Anything that you collect from your website that qualifies as personally identifiable information falls under Privacy laws and therefor represents a liability for you. But you HAVE to collect information if you want leads, right? Then you need a Privacy policy right now.

You NEED a Website Privacy Policy Generator RIGHT NOW or you are NOT compliant with privacy laws

The easiest way to protect yourself is with a website privacy policy generator like Termageddon. They are what we use and what we recommend to all of our clients because we are confident in their ability to keep up with the ever-changing laws and keep your website protected using a script that is able to update whenever a change is made. We’ve been partners with them for years and they do an amazing job of protecting our clients, supporting them and adding new services as new policies come about (like the recent surge of Cookie Policies and Cookie Consent requests). If you sign up through our partner link, we will even install your policies into your site for you and add links to each in the footer of your site for FREE.

Can you get Sued for not having a Privacy Policy or other type of policy?

The simple answer is YES. You can get sued for practically anything now-a-days and remember we are NOT lawyers, but common sense tells us if there is a state law stating if you collect personally identifiable information and you need to disclose that info on your website, and you DON’T comply, then yep – you are at risk. So for example if someone from California comes to your website and fills out a form and you collect any personally identifiable information in that form then you are subject to Californias Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) at you better have a privacy policy or they can sue you for up to $750 if you happen to have a data breach. And that is just ONE law in ONE state.

Did you know that right now there are 4 state privacy laws that apply to ANY business regardless of where they are located and were you to be cited by them the fee STARTS at $2,500 per “infringement” (per website visitor). So basically, you need a privacy policy that covers each of those states laws in order to be compliant.

Now let’s talk about NEW laws. Ever since the European Union introduced the GDPR or General Data Protection Regulation (which they claim is the TOUGHEST privacy and security law in the world) countries all over the world have been following suit. And that includes the US. States all over the US are adopting their own privacy acts and there are several dozen on the table waiting to be passed right now that have their own penalties. This means that you are required to comply with them ALL. And yes, even the GDPR IF your website collects their information. So if someone from Switzerland comes to your site and inquires on a house, you are liable per the GDPR laws. And the law changes ALL THE TIME. That is why it is important to either make sure your lawyer is ON TOP of the latest laws and updates your policy as needed or you use a service like Termageddon that does all the work for you (at a fraction of the cost….like only $99!)

Google Analytics requires you to have a Privacy Policy

Many third party services that you use could also require you to have a Privacy policy. For example if you use Google Analytics (and as we said before, most of our clients DO because we set it up for you when we build your website) then you are required by Google to have a Privacy Policy.

Static Privacy Policy Templates are Dead. Get protected with an auto-updating Privacy Policy solution. – Termageddon

2. What is a Terms of Service Agreement?

A Terms of Service Agreement basically tells your clients the rules to using your website therefor limiting your liability.

Examples of things you would find in a Terms of Service Agreement

Third-party links: If you link to other businesses on your site then you would explain to your visitors that you are not liable if they click through to 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: This one is one of the most important parts of a Terms of Service in our opinion and is way to often overlooked. A DMCA notice helps prevent you from being sued by giving visitors a way to contact you in case you have any copyrighted information on your site like images or content. This is quite common for people who have had websites for a LONG time and back in the day got their images off of Google Images or copied a blog post from another website and used it as their own work.

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.

3. What is a Disclaimer?

A Disclaimer is a statement that limits what you are responsible for and what you can be liable for under certain circumstances.

You need a Disclaimer if:

You Advertise third-party products or services: This helps protect you if a visitor clicks on a third-party link or ad and gets a virus or is somehow injured by a product or service OR if they are not happy with the service.

You Sell or display health products: This will protect you if the user buys something and it doesn’t work as advertised or they are injured by it.

You are an Affiliate and have Affiliate links on your site: If you have signed up for an affiliate programs through third-parties and you link to their products or advertise them in anyway on your website, email, etc and you are compensated for the revenue they generate then to be compliant you are most likely required to have a Disclaimer from the affiliate themselves (see their Terms of Service).

You give health & fitness advice:  If you provide your users with any health or fitness advice and they are injured then a Disclaimer will protect you.

You Provide information that could be seen by others as legal advice: Did we mention we aren’t Lawyers? Our Disclaimer protects us by stating that there is no attorney client relationship here and that this advice is not legal advice, thus protecting us in case something goes wrong. It will protect you in the same capacity.

What other website policies do I need?

We touched upon some of the most common types of website policies above but there are a few more that you should be aware of. Some of these are fairly recent and have sprung up because of the privacy laws and we fully expect more to come about in the future so it is important to keep yourself educated about website policies so that you can stay compliant and protect yourself. Here are a few of the newer policies you need and a brief description of each:

  • Cookie Policy: Your policy that explains what cookies you use to track your users behavior, how you use them and how you use that data as well as how to opt-out.
  • Cookie Consent: A banner or notice you display on your site that informs your users that you use cookies to track them on your site and to agree (or disagree) to be tracked.
  • EULA (End User License Agreement): This is the agreement between the owner of a product and the end-user.

Termageddon includes all of these policies in addition to the 3 main ones we talked about above.

How do you get a Website Policy?

Well, if you can afford it you would hire a Lawyer who is an expert in Privacy Law AND is proficient in Terms of Service, Disclaimer, Cookie Policies, Accessibility and anything else new that is coming. At the average lawyers hourly rate, that can get expensive. And it HAS to be constantly updated for you to remain compliant.

If you want to go the less expensive route and have a DONE FOR YOU website policy including the 3 most common ones above then we recommend using Termageddon for $99/year. They also include an End User License Agreement (EULA), and they recently added a Cookie Policy and Cookie Consent! ALL for $99/year. Termageddon uses a website privacy policy generator to quickly generate a privacy policy for your website that fits your business needs no matter WHAT kind of business you have. Did we also mention they include a Disclaimer policy, Terms and Conditions policy,  EULA policy, Cookie Policy and Cookie Consent all for $99/year? All you have to do is sign up then go into your Dashboard and generate the policies you want to use, answer some questions and then insert the script(s) into your site. OR if you would prefer us to set it up for you just us know when you have generated your policies and we will insert the script into your site for you for FREE. *This does require us to have access to your site. Anytime the law changes, all of your policies are updated. Occasionally you might have to log into the dashboard and answer a few questions to satisfy any new laws or changes to existing laws but it is pretty easy and cheap for the piece of mind you get.

If there are any changes to the laws, Termageddon will send you an email to let you know if you need to log into your dashboard to answer any additional questions on any of your policies. Additionally you can log into your dashboard anytime and it will notify you if you need to do anything. You will also be notified about any new laws you need to know about and when Termageddon has automatically updated your policies for you. DONE for you!

Adding policies to your website is a decision you will have to make. Don’t wait until it is too late. 

YourSiteNeedsMe is a Real Estate Websites WordPress Designer for REALTORS and enjoys writing blog posts about hot topics and fun things to do.