Is Your Website In Compliance?

Or are you leaving yourself open to being sued?

Do you have a website? If so, are you satisfied with the performance it provides for your business?

It’s no secret that privacy for your personal information is becoming a major concern.

If you have a website and collect as little as an email address on your contact form, then that is collecting “Personally Identifiable Information.” States across America are proposing privacy laws to protect its citizens from potential breaches of their personal information. Some states have even proposed bills which would enable people within those states seeking damages against businesses operating outside of them–of any size!

We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. We do, however, believe that this information is important for any business with a website.

WHAT DO I NEED ON MY WEBSITE?

1. If a website has a contact form, it needs a Privacy Policy.

Don’t let the privacy laws catch up with you! Every state and country are enacting new legislation, which could result in heavy fines for non-compliant policies. It’s important that every business prepares themselves now before it is too late.

A Privacy Policy helps website owners comply with privacy laws by providing specific disclosure requirements such as how their website collects, uses, and discloses personally identifiable information and more.

A comprehensive Privacy Policy is required to comply with privacy laws.

Websites are built to provide a great user experience and motivate prospective customers to reach out and inquire about what you have to offer through the use of contact forms, website analytics, and more.

Contact forms ask users to submit their ‘name’ and ‘email’, which are examples of personally identifiable information. When a website uses analytics, it collects each visitor’s IP address and shares that personally identifiable information with third-party data analytics providers. These are just a few examples of the many ways websites collect and share personally identifiable information.

Penalties for non-compliance

The collection of personally identifiable information is regulated under multiple privacy laws. For example, in the US, there are four state privacy laws that can apply to businesses, regardless of their location, and fines for non-compliance start at $2,500 per “infringement” (per website visitor). Each of these privacy laws has specific disclosure requirements that have to be added to your Privacy Policy to be compliant.

On top of that, over two dozen privacy bills have been proposed on a state-level, each with their own unique disclosure requirements and penalties for not complying. Some of these bills will enable citizens to sue businesses (of any size or location) for collecting their personally identifiable information without an up to date and compliant Privacy Policy. Due to the ever-changing nature of privacy laws, we recommend that you not only have a comprehensive Privacy Policy in place but that you also develop a strategy to keep your policies up to date when these laws are amended or when new laws are implemented.

Google requires your website to have a Privacy Policy

Outside of the legal requirements, Privacy Policies are required to use popular third-party tools. For example, a website utilizing Google Analytics is required by Google to have a Privacy Policy. You can find this requirement within section 7 of Google’s Terms of Service.

 

Protect Your Business: If you ask for Personally Identifiable Information via a contact form, and you want to avoid fines and lawsuits, implement a compliant Privacy Policy.

2. If a website offers links to third party websites, it should have a Terms of Service Policy

In simple terms, the Terms of Service Policy limits a company’s liability by stating the rules to using the website.

Third-party links: When a website offers links to third-party websites, a Terms of Service can help explain to users that the business is not responsible if a user clicks 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: A Terms of Service agreement can also provide what’s called a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice, which helps prevent a business from being sued by providing contact information in case the website is accidentally using copyrighted material (like images or content).

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.

 

Protect Your Business: If you have any links to 3rd party websites or utilize images, implement a compliant Terms of Service Policy today.

3. If a website offers affiliate links or advice, it should have a Disclaimer

A Disclaimer is a document that helps limit your responsibilities and liabilities for your website in certain circumstances.

Advertise third-party products or services? A Disclaimer will help you protect yourself if a user clicks on the third-party advertisement and gets a virus, is somehow injured by the product or service, or is not happy with the third-party product or service

Sell or display health products? A Disclaimer will help you protect yourself in this case if the health products do not work as they should, do not deliver the results that were expected or if the user gets injured by the health products.

Participate in an affiliate program? An affiliate program is a program whereby you list a particular link on your website and, if the user clicks on that link or purchases the products that the link displays, you receive money from the manufacturer of that product. A Disclaimer will help you comply with the affiliate program’s Terms of Service as most affiliate programs require you to provide a Disclaimer and will help you keep your user’s trust.

Provide health and fitness advice? A Disclaimer will protect you in case the user gets injured after following your health and fitness advice, much like the beginning of those exercise videos that you will watch in January of next year.

Provide information that could be seen by others as legal advice? A Disclaimer will protect you here by stating that there is no attorney client relationship here and that this advice is not legal advice, thus protecting you in case something goes wrong.

 

Protect Your Business: If you have any affiliate links or include advice, implement a Disclaimer today.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

If you have the budget, we recommend hiring a lawyer that focuses on privacy law to write your website policies, monitor privacy laws, and update your policies when the laws change or when new laws go into effect. If you do not have the budget to hire a privacy lawyer for your website policies, we recommend using Termageddon with whom we have a relationship. Termageddon is a comprehensive website policies generator and will update your policies when privacy laws change or new privacy laws go into effect, helping you stay compliant and avoid privacy related fines and lawsuits, and they do it at a fraction of the cost of a lawyer. Although Termageddon is a technology company (not a legal services provider), it was founded by a privacy and contracts lawyer and the tool has been recognized as a trusted tech vendor by the largest international privacy organization in the world (iapp.org). If Termageddon sounds like a good solution for your business, visit the site below to create the policy webpages, insert/test the code and ensure your policies stay up to date with changes to the law. You will have full access to your policies with your own Termageddon account, and you will be notified when new laws go into effect and when your policies are being updated or when new disclosures require additional questions that need to be answered. You are under no obligation to utilize Termageddon, but it is the service that we use on our own website, have a relationship with and recommend. We can resell their license to you if you want help implementing it on your site rather than doing it yourself. Please note, should you choose to use Termageddon’s services, your relationship will be directly with them, governed solely by their Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

When you click the Get Started button, you will be redirected to Termageddon.