Written by Paige Griffith, J.D. of The Legal Paige

My guess is you’ve probably checked a box in an online checkout saying something along the lines of “I accept the terms and conditions”… but have you ever ACTUALLY read the website terms and conditions, and privacy policy?! Did you know that almost every single business needs terms and conditions as well as a privacy policy on its website? Let’s walk through why you need legal protections for your website and what exactly needs to be in that bottom footer. 

Do I need a privacy policy on my website?

A privacy policy is legally required if you are collecting any type of information from your users.

What is a privacy policy?

A website privacy policy is a legal document that states how a company collects data from website users. A privacy policy should have descriptions of how a company processes personal data, and how that information is kept confidential. Every website that collects user data in some way (which is almost every single website out there), MUST legally have a privacy policy.

Although no explicit federal law states you must have one, you are likely subject to these other laws in some way: Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), European GDPR, Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), and the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)). 

What must be in a privacy policy

In your privacy policy, you need to list every type of data that will be collected. Even if you use a different data collection type ONE TIME, it needs to be in the privacy policy. Why? Well, because people are providing you with information that they find to be private or confidential and they do not want their names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, etc. to be leaked to spammers and out on the web for anyone to find. This is why it is important to be completely transparent about the data you are collecting from users of your site.   

Now that you have established what data is collected, you need to explain how it is handled and processed. This is a big one, potentially more important than what type of data is collected. Users want to know who is seeing their data.

Users should be able to look at the privacy policy and be able to answer the following questions

  1. Is it being shown to third parties or affiliates?
  2. Who is viewing and using the information?
  3. How is it stored?

These are all questions that need to be addressed in your policy.  Further, you need to understand that not all users will be comfortable with data collection and storage. You can either provide users a way to opt-out of having their data set in the policy OR clearly state in the policy that it is non-negotiable. 

Next, you should include exactly how you are collecting and using the data. This can be seen through using cookies, email or text subscriptions, and other creative ways to bring in data to increase your website usage. Remember to be specific!  Finally, your privacy policy needs to tell consumers how you are going to use their data when you collect it. If you are using it for advertising purposes you need to say that. All of this information NEEDS to be in your privacy policy. 

You SHOULD have terms and conditions… even though it’s not legally required

Terms and conditions are exactly like they sound, they are the conditions of the people and users using your website. Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean you don’t need terms and conditions on your website.  Your terms and conditions need to include letting consumers know about your return/exchange/refund policies, age requirements, consents, communication policies, intellectual property ownership, affiliate links, and other business policies you have put into place. This way no consumer or website user can come back to you stating that they didn’t know the rules of your business practices. 

Overall, every website needs to have a privacy policy and terms and conditions readily accessible—usually in the footer. You are using people’s personal information to increase your business in some way thus should inform users of that. If you have certain business or website policies users should also know about them. It is always better to have a clear policy to protect your business.

Looking for a contract for your website terms and conditions, and privacy policy?

If you need any help creating a privacy policy for your site, check out The Legal Paige’s Website Terms, Conditions, and Privacy Policy template!

Don’t forget to save 40% Nov. 21st to Nov. 28th

That’s right. Between Monday, November 21 and Monday, November 28, an automatic 40% off will be applied to the entire shop (from your contracts with clients to the website terms and conditions, and privacy policy). Plus, save an additional $10 with the code: SALTEDPAGES10

Website Terms And Conditions And Privacy Policy: Must-Have Protections

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