Terms of Use and Policies

Differences Between a Privacy Policy, Disclaimer, and Terms & Conditions

Terms of Use and Policies

Any venture into the world of ecommerce, be it an online store, app, marketing endeavor, or indeed any scenario when you’re selling your goods or services to online customers, has unavoidable legal consequences.

As a savvy entrepreneur, you’ve probably anticipated the need to make your website not only user-friendly, but also compliant with legal requirements.

The different legal documents, however, may prove confusing even for the most business-minded among online business agents. Further, their applicability and effects vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, making the matter even more complicated, since online commerce is generally a global endeavor.

Here’s a breakdown of the three most common legal documents and statements you should have on your website or mobile app and how they differ from one another.

Table of Contents

  1. Privacy Policy
  2. Terms and Conditions
  3. Disclaimers
  4. Conclusion

1. Privacy Policy

A privacy policy is a detailed breakdown of when your website collects, uses, stores, transmits and destroys information from users. You may think of a privacy policy as a way of building trust with users, and therefore not an essential document.

Increasingly, however, online privacy protection is a matter of law. Posting and complying with a privacy policy is no longer an option, but an obligation.

It’s important to note that, due to the nature of technology, you may unknowingly collect information about website visitors. Any site that uses cookies or tracking technologies to collect data, even if that data is not connected to a street address or name, has access to private information.

Depending on your use of cookies and other tracking technologies, you may need a cookie policy as well. Take advantage of a cookie policy template and customize it to fit your business’s cookie use.

Digital analytics software collects information from users browsing your site before they have even ordered a product or service.

For this reason alone, it’s essential to create a privacy policy tailored to your website that users can easily find on your homepage, and not just as a pop-up once visitors enter credit card information.

If you’re short on legal counsel, consider using our privacy policy generator to create this essential document, or make your own starting with a sample privacy policy template.

In order to stay compliant, the Federal Trade Commission advises website owners to review and adhere to their own privacy policies, or they could face legal action. State law may also require that online entities have privacy policies in place.

GDPR requirements also impose strict penalties on companies that do not protect the privacy of EU citizens accessing websites, regardless of where those websites are located.

If you make any amendments to your data collection policies, then you need to make privacy policy changes accordingly. Informing users of changes is an important part of keeping your website compliant.

2. Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions of your website, also called the terms of use, are the general rules of using your website. These go beyond a promise of how you will handle privacy matters. Before the advent of ecommerce, terms and conditions were most commonly used to set the terms of a transaction between a business and its suppliers and customers.

In the case of an online store, the terms and conditions determines what will happen in the event of a sale. Essentially, it enables you to structure your return policy, shipping deadlines, and any other details that are essential to the transaction.

While your online store may display a product with a price attached, the terms and conditions offer the “fine print” as to what actually occurs when a user surfing your website decides to purchase and wants to enter their credit card information.

Your legal policies should be tailored specifically to your website, so it’s crucial that you avoid the temptation to copy another website’s policies.

For an easy solution, download a free terms and conditions template or terms of use template from our library and customize it to your exact requirements.

The FTC does not require you to have a terms and conditions document on your website; in fact, it’s entirely possible, from a legal standpoint, to do business without one. However, doing so is akin to making a handshake deal in real life versus having a written contract. With a handshake deal, you’re taking the other party at their word that they will uphold their obligations.

Additionally, most app stores require that an app terms and conditions be posted within your app or on and accompanying site in order for it to be made available to the public.

Using a free terms and conditions generator allows you to set the rules of your site or app, be it establishing guidelines for proper user behavior on your discussion forum or signing up for a free trial of your online app.

3. Disclaimers

Although many people are said to ignore disclaimers because they appear so frequently, they are an important part of business correspondence. They are also a common sight on websites to remind users of the limitations of the service provided.

An excellent disclaimer example is found on most law firm websites, stating that the information is of a general nature only and not to be used as legal advice. The intent of that kind of a disclaimer is to prevent someone from suing a law firm after suffering harm from following general advice they received from the site.

Legal disclaimers vary depending on the nature of the product or service sold. Most licensed professionals, including lawyers and doctors, must adhere to specific rules about advertising their services. Otherwise, they could be faced with losing their licensure or sanctions from the licensing body.

Non-licensed entrepreneurs who sell a particular type of product, such as health supplements, must adhere to specific FDA guidelines that prohibit sellers from making unsupported health claims. Whenever you sell a product online, it’s essential to review the legal body that governs your industry so you can generate a disclaimer unique to your site that limits your liability.

Creating a disclaimer for your website will limit or prevent legal liabilities and claims in the event a user misinterprets your site content. Use our disclaimer template to get started.

In order to decide what kind of information to use in a disclaimer, it’s a good idea to do a self-assessment of how your website will be, or could be, used. Upon consultation with a lawyer, you may want to include any potential risks to users in a disclaimer.

For example, if you are a third-party reseller of consumer goods, you may want to affirm that you do not take responsibility for the condition of the goods once shipped by the third party. In essence, a disclaimer is intended to limit liability, but you should speak with a lawyer if you have significant concerns about the ultimate well-being of those who use your website.

Conclusion

Before you launch your website, you should use these documents to both comply with the law and protect yourself from liability. Taking these proactive steps, even when it’s not explicitly required, can help ensure you’re on firm ground in the event of a legal dispute and that you are offering a positive image of professionalism to your users.

Source: https://termly.io/resources/articles/difference-between-privacy-policy-disclaimer-and-terms-and-conditions/

Terms and Conditions VS Privacy Policy

Terms of Use and Policies

When you are launching a startup, you need to take a lot of steps to make sure that you successfully get your business off the ground and set it on a path that will bring you profit and help you meet the needs of your future customers.

One of the most important steps to take when launching a website or a mobile app is creating terms and conditions and privacy policy agreements.

These legal agreements are incredibly valuable for both you and your customers, because not only do they inform people about everything that they are agreeing to when they start using your services, but they also protect your company against legal claims.

However, many websites and mobile app owners don't quite realize the difference between terms and conditions and privacy policy agreements and they don't really know how to draft them, so they end up making their business vulnerable.

Since they have different purposes, you need to make sure that you fully understand what each of them is and why you really need them, so read on.

What is a privacy policy?

A privacy policy agreement is a legal document that informs your users about the collection, storage, sharing and use of their personal information. This is required by law, so you should never skip this step before you actually launch your website or mobile app.

If you collect, store and use any kind of personal information from your website or mobile app users, you must create a proper privacy policy agreement in order to let them know that you will collect and use that information.

It should be provided to them through your website or the app before they actually start using them.

What exactly is meant by “personal information”? Personal information includes your users' names, addresses, email addresses, IP addresses, date of birth and credit card information and anything by which your users can be identified.

A privacy policy should not only merely inform your users of the fact that their personal information will be collected and used when they start using your services, but it also needs to let them know exactly what information will be collected and how, as well as how and for what purposes it will be used.

For instance, you may collect their email addresses, so that you can send updates about your products or services.

Your privacy policy also needs to let your users know whether or not all the collected information will be shared with some third parties, as well as whether or not using your website or mobile app will result in some data being stored on your users' computers or mobile devices (for instance, cookies).

It is very important to note that you should have a privacy policy agreement in place even if you collect only non-personal information from your users.

That kind of information includes their zip codes, the pages that they visit on your website, the web browsers, and devices they are using to visit your site and anything that cannot be used to identify your users.

Why is a privacy policy so important? Apart from being required by law (although not in all countries, still highly recommended), a privacy policy comes down to the question of privacy, obviously.

You need to show your users that they can trust you and that you will handle all of the collected and stored information with the utmost care.

Therefore, the main purpose of this legal document is protecting your company against any kind of legal liability. Even if you don't collect any kind of information, your users need to know that, because you certainly want them to feel safe when using any of your services.

It will help you build trust with them and inspire their loyalty.

If you don't collect any information at first, but choose to start doing it after a while, make sure that you update your privacy policy and let your users know in a timely manner.

This means that you need to inform them about the update in advance so that they can decide whether or not they want to continue using your services.

What is a terms and conditions agreement?

A terms and conditions agreement (also known as a “Terms of Use” or “Terms of Service” agreement) is a legal document that sets out the rules, guidelines, and requirements that your users must agree to abide by in order to be able to use your services.

Therefore, in order for people to use your website or mobile app, you need to clearly state what they need to do if they want to use them, as well as what you will do in case of some violations of the rules that you lay out in the agreement.

Your terms and conditions agreement should include your copyright details, your billing, and subscription policies (especially important for SaaS companies), potential warranties on your services, potential modifications of your services, and how exactly your users may use your website or mobile app.

This agreement should also include what will happen if a user doesn't abide by your rules and guidelines and if they abuse your website or mobile app. For instance, they may be requested to pay a fine, or they may be temporarily or permanently banned from using your services.

You should also make sure that your terms and conditions agreement includes a disclaimer notice that will limit your company's liability. This means stating that you will not be held responsible if someone finds some kind of information on your website or mobile app to be incorrect.

Although this agreement is not required by law, it is highly recommended that you have it, precisely because of limiting your liability, as well as for protecting your company against any potential abuses of your website or mobile app, such as copyright infringement, for instance.

It is very important to protect your intellectual property, such as your logo, your unique web or mobile app design and your content (unless the content is user-generated), which is yet another reason for having a terms and conditions agreement.

Therefore, you should make sure that you include the Intellectual Property clause in your terms and conditions. Also, you should include the Governing Law clause to show that your terms and conditions are governed by the law of the country that you operate in.

Apart from limiting liability and protecting your business against any kind of abuse, this legal document also enables you to build credibility and trust with your users.

You inform them of their rights and responsibilities towards your company, as well as yours towards them, which shows that you are a professional who is trustworthy.

Just with your privacy policy, you need to let your users know about the potential modifications of your terms and conditions.

If you plan on changing anything in your agreement, you need to inform them about the changes in advance and clearly state when they are going to take place.

Single agreement or separate agreements?

Some website and mobile app owners combine their privacy policy and terms and conditions into a single agreement. What they usually do is incorporate their privacy policy into their terms and conditions agreement by creating a separate section for it.

This is not ideal because it is simply much easier for their users to take a look at both documents and, thus, fully understand what each of them entails. This is definitely a much smarter option, so you should always keep your terms and conditions and your privacy policy separate.

You can choose to reference your privacy policy document in your terms and conditions agreement, providing a link leading to the full document, and vice versa. That way, you inform your users that there is another legal document that they need to be aware of, in case they have perhaps overlooked it.

Keeping your legal agreements separate also lets your users know that each of the documents has a completely different purpose. It also helps them comprehend and retain all of the information easier.

But you need to make sure that the agreements are clear, concise and written in plain language that your users will be able to understand because not everyone will understand various legal and technical terms.

At this point, you certainly realize how crucial it is to have both terms and conditions and privacy policy agreements in place, as well as how essential it is to keep the two separated.

These agreements will help your website or mobile app users feel safe and secure when using your services, so you can easily form meaningful relationships with them and expand your customer base.

Moreover, you will effectively protect your business against any potential legal claims by your website visitors or mobile app users and make sure that it stays on the right road to success.

Therefore, make sure that you properly and carefully draft these legal documents and that you make them clearly available and easily accessible by your users.

Source: https://www.websitepolicies.com/blog/terms-conditions-vs-privacy-policy