The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo of Website Documents

Most businesses these days have a website even though it may be only for informational or advertising purposes. While creating your website, you will look at other websites in your industry to draw inspiration from. You may see “Terms and Conditions” and “Privacy Policy” links on some of those websites and are probably wondering if you need those as well and how you can get them.

Sure it is a lot of legal stuff that puts you to sleep the minute you start reading it. So does anyone visiting the website really read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy? Chances are they don’t. Are they mandatory? If you collect personal information from users, you are required to have a Privacy Policy on your website.

A Privacy Policy is a declaration that you make to customers, users, and visitors to your website regarding what information you are collecting from them, why you are gathering the information, how that information is stored, who has access to that data, how it will be used, and whether you will share the data collected with third parties. While a privacy policy is required by law if you gather personal data, it is becoming increasingly important given security breaches that we hear of being reported these days.

Terms and Conditions are not mandatory but it is a good idea to include them. They serve as legal insurance and limit your liability in case a customer or user decides to take you to court.

Terms and Conditions constitute a binding agreement between you and the customer/user that can be used in court as evidence of the understanding between the parties. Some of the important clauses that are required in the Terms and Conditions are limitation of liability, ownership of intellectual property rights, terms of purchase, refund and cancellation (if you are a product based business), and governing law.

Now you may ask if you can just copy the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy documents from someone else’s website. As tempting as that can be, don’t do it. Copying someone else’s content constitutes copyright infringement and the document will not hold up in court to protect your business. Also, they are not tailored for your specific business and may be missing important terms on how you conduct your business and how you store or use the data collected.

It is a good idea to work with an attorney to help you create your website Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy to meet the specific needs of your business.

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