How To: Successfully Navigate Privacy Policies and Terms of Use

If you’re anything like me, reading the words “Privacy Policy” or “Terms of Service” in the title of this article makes you want to shut off your screen, and lock away your computer into a closet for a very long time. It’s not a fun topic for me, nor for most of my clients. Let’s […]
Solomon Barayev
October 27, 2021

If you’re anything like me, reading the words “Privacy Policy” or “Terms of Service” in the title of this article makes you want to shut off your screen, and lock away your computer into a closet for a very long time. It’s not a fun topic for me, nor for most of my clients. Let’s face it, it’s hard to get any clarity on the matter, and whenever you have any sort of legalities thrown your way, unless you’re a lawyer, you avoid it at all costs, I know I do!

Having worked with many small business owners, I have gotten to face the beast many times over and I am here to clarify the question you never actually want answered: What’s the deal with Privacy Policies and Term of Use when it comes to your website?

Today, I’ll try to at least help you out with that question, but first:
I am must disclaim that I am not an attorney. I can only give my recommendations as a Web Designer who has worked with many small businesses to date. For legal advice, I’d highly recommend finding a licensed attorney to consult with.

Let’s take it one at a time, starting with Term of Use.

Terms of Use

Before we dive in, let’s quickly answer that little question some of you might have as you’re reading this: Yes, Terms of Use is an interchangeable term with: Terms of Service, Terms and Conditions, ToS, ToU and T&C.

What is it?

Essentially, the Terms of Use (ToU) is an agreement between you and the users of your site, services and resources. It’s purpose is to protect yourself from all sorts of nefarious activity that can take place online. In your ToU you can specify things like:

  • Intellectual Property Rights (So no one steals your information..)
  • Notice of Agreement (If they continue using your site, they automatically agree to your terms…)
  • Accuracy Warning (You cannot be held accountable for inaccuracies, times change, information changes…)
  • Payment Policy (Accepted payment methods, refund policies…)
  • Shipping Policy (If you have an ecommerce store…)
  • Termination Clause (You have the right to terminate anyone’s access to the website with or without notice…)
  • Notification of Changes (You have the right to make any changes to the ToU at anytime…)
  • Governing Laws (Which state/country your Terms are in line with…)

There are of course many other clauses you can include in your Terms of Services, but these are just some examples of ones that are included on most sites. Of course, these terms are subjective to the type of business they’re written for.

For example: If you sell digital copies of the “The Guide To Selling Your House In A Buyers Market”, you might want to include a clause limiting people from sharing digital assets with anyone who has not purchased them from you directly.

Do I need it?

The simple answer to this question is: No. It is not legally required for any website to display a Terms of Use. But, based on what I have described in the previous section, it is extremely helpful to include them. It is for your own protection, and not having them is like entering the Gladiator’s arena with twig in your hands for protection.

Privacy Policy

Now this one is a biggie. As much as I would like to sugarcoat it, there’s not much I can tell you here. Every website must legally include a privacy policy, if you are collecting any sort of information.

Many of you might read that underlined part and say to yourselves, “I’m not collecting any information….” News flash: not collecting ANY information is quite rare these days.

Let me explain…

If you have as little as a small box for people to sign up for your weekly newsletter (who doesn’t?), then you are already required to have a privacy policy.

Here’s another one: nowadays, most websites have Google Analytics installed on their sites to gain some sort of insight on their traffic. The only way that is possible is if Google collects your clients’ IP addresses while they’re on your site. Yet another reason to include a privacy policy. Here are a few more elements you may have on your website that will necessitate a privacy policy: online form, contact form, booking calendar, quoting system, etc.

The sole purpose of your privacy policy is to declare what data you’re collecting, and what you do with that data.

What to include in a Privacy Policy:

Here is a barebones structure of a privacy policy and what should be on one:

  • Who is the owner of your website
  • What data you collect
  • What you do with collected data
  • How you collect the data
  • How long you store collected data.
  • Purpose of collecting data (Email marketing, analytics, customer service…)
  • Which third party service providers will get their hands on your collected date (Email service providers, Google Analytics, etc.)
  • Is data sent overseas for processing?
  • Users’ rights to the data. (They may request to not hold on to their identifiable information.)
  • Is there a privacy officer who is in charge of privacy related questions? (Yes or no, doesn’t matter, simply have to make it known).
  • How will users be notified of changes and updates made to the privacy policy?
  • Specify the effective date for the Privacy Policy.

I know – that seems like quite the policy to bang out. There are a lot of moving parts to running a business, especially nowadays, but writing these policies is just one of those things no one ever told you about.

As you can tell by now, it’s probably best not to mess with writing these policies on your own.

So What Can You Do?

You have several routes you can take:

  1. Hire an attorney to write the policies for you.
  2. Use pre-written templates.
  3. Use a policy generator.

The way I see it, #1 and #2 are not the best options as hiring an attorney can be pricey and using pre-written templates doesn’t serve as a fitting solution to your unique business.

Option 3 on the other hand strikes the perfect balance between custom tailoring to your business’s needs while remaining affordable.

My personal recommendation is to use a company I use for myself and all of my clients: Termageddon.

Termageddon specializes in website policies. They hand you a questionaire that you fill out based on your business details, and within 10 minutes you have a perfect set of policies that are catered to your business specifically.

The best part though, whenever privacy laws change, their system is set up to automatically update the policies on your website as well to comply with any new laws. This is extremely beneficial as most of us small business owners are by no means literate in never-ending privacy laws. Its hard enough to keep track of the plethora of laws that have already rapidly come into existence, on top of that news ones come out everyday. We are in the age of Privacy Law explosion.

FYI: If you’d like to see the privacy policy that Termageddon has generated for my site you can do so here.

Termageddon, in my opinion are the best solution to the Privacy Law crisis for all small business owners. Check them out, your won’t regret it.

Disclaimer: the links in this article content affiliate links from which I receive a kickbacks, but I wouldn’t be spreading word about this unless I genuinely believed this is the best solution for small business owners like myself.

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