The 3 Policies You Need To Legally Protect Your Website

01 Sep, 2021 By Bobby Klinck
The 3 Policies You Need To Legally Protect Your Website

As an online entrepreneur, your online presence is your business, so you need to know how to protect it from possible issues and make sure you’re following applicable laws. In this post, we’ll break down the major rules and regulations you need to follow on your website.

  • CAN-SPAM, a Federal law that applies to email marketing
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prevents you from collecting personal or private information from anyone below 13 years old without their parent’s consent
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union law that involves the processing of private information and online data collection
  • California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) 

If you already know you need to learn more about the legal stuff for your online business but don’t have the budget for a lawyer yet, I’ve got the perfect solution for you: my FREE training called Online Legal Foundations. This course is part of my completely FREE program, BADA$$ Online Marketing University (BOMU). Stop buying more courses and enroll in BOMU where you can get the training and support you need to build and market your online business.

Avoiding Common Problems Caused by Providing Information

When you’re using your website to build a platform that provides information to others, you’re acting as a teacher. As you share your message, you hope that your audience will listen to you and take your advice.

But what if someone reads your blog or watches your video, follows your advice, and suffers bad consequences? Will you be held liable? Suddenly this issue takes on a new urgency.

As you build your business, you need to protect yourself against these kinds of claims. Even though you’re providing some information to your audience, you don’t have a professional relationship with them, and you don’t know the facts of their situation.

In order to avoid facing legal problems, there are three core policies that you need to have in place on your website: Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and a Disclaimer. Each of these policies should be a separate page on your website. You need to add the links to the pages in the footer area of your website so people can easily find them.

Terms of Use

The terms of use, in a broader sense, can be considered as the rules of the road or the ground rules for your website. It covers the basic agreement between you and your website visitors. It states what’s allowed and what isn’t allowed on your website.  

There is some standard legal language that you need to include in your terms of use.

Standard legal language

  • Your Terms of Use, together with the Privacy Policy and the Disclaimer, are the agreement between you and the website visitor. When someone goes to your website and clicks on the button to accept your terms of use, that person also agrees to your privacy policy and disclaimer.
  • You have the right to change the terms of use and the website visitors should check it from time to time.
  • You have the right to take down the website, especially when some people have started to rely on you and believe they’re entitled to the information you give out.
  • Your website and all its content must be used only for lawful purposes.
  • You reserve the rights to the Intellectual Property on your website.
  • You can’t guarantee that all the information you provide on your website is 100% accurate. There will be instances when your visitors find typos or outdated information on your website.
  • When visitors agree to email communication or when they send you an email, they’re allowing you to respond and keep the details they’ve provided.
  • Website visitors must act appropriately, legally, and respectfully when using any form of communication or interactive elements on your website, such as comment boxes and chat boxes. Any sign of abuse will not be tolerated.
  • You have the right to use anything your visitors submit to you.
  • You have no control over the information, activities, and data accuracy of linked third-party websites and services.
  • You’re not making any warranty or guarantees and you have limited liability for your website.
  • Address the process involved in disputes.

Specific Provisions

Templates or Forms

You need to have a clause that addresses what your website visitors can do with the forms or templates that they download from your website when they purchase your product or service. You can add restrictions, such as prohibiting your clients from reselling your products to other people.

Free Downloadable Content

Don’t forget to add restrictions as to what your website visitors can do with your free downloadable content. You must clearly state that it’s only for personal use. Remind them that you hold all the rights to your content and they cannot copy, distribute, or resell them in any way. If they want other people to have the freebie, they must direct them to your website.

Featured Guests

If you feature guests on your platform, your terms of use must also indicate that you have no control over the accuracy of the information they provide. Make it very clear on your disclaimer that it’s not your responsibility to verify the accuracy of what your guests are saying.

Cancelation Policy

You must have separate terms and conditions, as well as a written agreement for your cancellation policy. But it’s also recommended to include them in your general terms of use because people may be unable to find the specific terms and conditions for a certain product. It must be simple, clear, and concise.

Money-Back Guarantee or Refund Policy

You must clearly state whether or not you offer a money-back guarantee or a refund policy, and you must clearly indicate that there are no refunds if you don’t offer one. If you do offer refunds, you need to lay out your refund policy, the requirements they need to meet, and the steps they have to follow. 

Privacy Policy

You need to have a privacy policy on your website. It’s not optional. It provides your visitors an explanation of what kind of information you collect, why you gather it, and what you’ll do with the data you’ve collected. Your privacy policy must also provide your email address and a physical address where your people can send a letter if they need to file a complaint. 

Under the GDPR, you also have to provide contact information and identify the company behind the website, and you need to identify your data protection officer if your business processes private information.

Your privacy policy should disclose to your website visitors what information you’ll be collecting from them, such as their name, email address, or other information that they submit to you through an opt-in page, sales page, survey, etc. You also need to disclose if you use Google Analytics, Facebook pixel, or website cookies to track some of their activities.

Addition Privacy Rules For The EU

If you’re in the EU or your website targets an audience from the EU, you need to meet the Cookie Directive requirement. You also need to tell website users that their data won’t be associated with them in any personal way unless they provide their personal information.

It’s important that you specify why you’re collecting their data. Perhaps it’s to sell them a product, send them freebies, or improve your website. You need to disclose whatever it is you’re using their information for.

You also need to tell your website visitors if you need to share their information with other people. Under the GDPR standard, you need to disclose either the recipients or categories of recipients of the information. You don’t have to list every person you share the information with. Instead, you can explain this using broad categories.

If you’re in the EU, you also need to indicate if you plan to remove the data from the EU like when you’re using an email service provider outside of Europe.

You also need to disclose how long you plan to keep the data. You can say that you plan to keep their data until it’s no longer useful or until they ask you to delete their information.

Disclaimer

A disclaimer will protect you, your business, and your website. It will prevent you from being sued, chased by regulators, and having disputes.

Education Not Advice

Your disclaimer must state that the information you provide on your website is for general education and not professional advice.

Financial Incentives

You must also include disclosures about your financial incentives on your website. 

You need to disclose if you’re getting a product at a discount when you give a review on your website. In addition, you also need to disclose when you’re using affiliate links so your website visitors know that you’ll receive a commission when they click on a link and purchase something. If you have ownership of another company that you’re promoting on your website, you need to tell your visitors.

Results Are Not Typical

When it comes to success or income claims, you need to state that results are not typical, especially when you’re using testimonials or earnings claims on your website. It means the results will vary and depend on different circumstances that are out of your control. You should say that you can’t make any guarantees that they will get the same results.

Boilerplate

You need to have a section that says you’re not making any warranty and that you have limited liability. It’s a part of your disclaimer that prevents you from getting sued.

Errors and Omissions

You should include a clause that says there may be errors or omissions on your website. You should add a personal responsibility clause stating that it’s the visitor’s responsibility to check the accuracy of the information or if it applies to their personal circumstances.

Get Website Legal Protection in Place

Your website needs to have these three major policies in place – Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Disclaimer – for legal protection. If you get those three policies in place, you will be in a much better place if legal issues arise. 

If you’d rather spend your time working on projects that actually generate revenue in your business than creating legal policies, you can grab my website legal pack for just $27. You’ll get templates for all three of these policies. All you have to do is customize the templates with your information and add them to your website.

If you want to learn more about the legal foundations for your business, join my signature program, BADA$$ Online Marketing University (BOMU). You don’t have to spend a cent to get access to my legal training.

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Bobby Klinck

Harvard Lawyer and Online Entrepreneur