Privacy Policies for a Small Business

Privacy Policies for a Small Business

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There’s a lot of concern about consumer privacy today, and recent laws meant to protect privacy are an issue for business website owners. This page explains what website policies are and how you can get coverage to limit your liability. These are the three most common policies found on websites:

  1. Privacy Policy

  2. Terms of Service

  3. Disclaimer

  4. How to Get Website Policies

Please note: We are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. But we believe this information is important so we ask all of our clients to sign a waiver, acknowledging that we have provided you with this information and either declining or accepting this offer. 

1. What is a Privacy Policy?

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.

Privacy Policies protect consumers, not businesses.

The locations where your subscribers and clients live each have their own privacy laws that businesses have to comply with. Current examples in California alone:

  • The California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)
  • The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Fines start at $2,500 per violation
(per website visitor)

Privacy laws are different for each country and state. Examples of current laws:

• European Union   • United Kingdom   • Canada
• Australia    • California    • Delaware
• Nevada    • Colorado    • Virginia

Today’s modern websites are built to provide a great user experience and motivate prospective customers to reach out and inquire about what you have to offer. This is done through the use of tools such as 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.

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 its 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.

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.

How will you keep your Privacy Policy current?

Even if you have a generic Privacy Policy of some kind, how will you know when it needs to be updated? Several states have proposed privacy bills, all with different requirements and imposing heavy fines on businesses failing to publish privacy disclosures. Here’s a State privacy bill tracker of new privacy bills that have been proposed.

2. What Is a Terms of Service Agreement?

A Terms of Service Agreement limits the liability of businesses by stating the rules to using the website. 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.

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.

A Terms of Service agreement can also provide what’s called a 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).

3. What is a Disclaimer?

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

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

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.

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.

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.

A Disclaimer will protect you by stating that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and your site visitors, and that this advice is not legal advice — protecting you in case something goes wrong.

4. How to Get Website Policies

Hire a Lawyer

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.

Use an Auto-Updating Policies Service

If you don’t have the budget to hire a privacy lawyer for your website policies and keep them current as the laws change, we recommend using Termageddon, an auto-updating privacy policy tool.

Benefits of Termageddon:

    • Personalized Policies
      It’s a comprehensive website policies generator that can be configured to fit your industry and your individual business, consistent with the laws that apply in the appropriate geographic locations.
    • Always Current
      Termageddon will update your policies when privacy laws change or new privacy laws go into effect. This helps you stay compliant and avoid privacy-related fines and lawsuits, at a fraction of the cost of a lawyer.
    • Recognized by Privacy Professionals 
      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 International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), the largest international privacy organization in the world.

Options for How to Implement Termageddon Policies:

    • Subscribe to Termageddon and publish policies yourself 
      Subscribe to Termageddon directly, go through their intake process to answer questions about your business so they can generate appropriate policies for you. Then create three new policy web pages, install their code on your website, test it, integrate the pages into your site so people can find them, and manage updates and communication with the policies service yourself.
    • Subscribe to Termageddon and we will publish policies for you
      Subscribe to Termageddon directly, go through their intake process to answer questions about your business so they can generate appropriate policies for you. For a one-time $200 setup fee we will create three new policy web pages, install their code on your website, test it, integrate the pages into your site so people can find them. You would manage updates and communication with the policies service yourself after that.
    • Subscribe to our Executive Level Maintenance Plan
      We will work with you to answer Termageddon’s questions about your business so they can generate appropriate policies. As part of your white glove maintenance plan, we will cover the cost with no setup fee — to create three new policy web pages, install their code on your website, test it, integrate the pages into your site so people can find them, and manage updates and communication with the policies service for you.

Notice to Clients

Because of the liability risk to clients
and to us as your website provider,
we ask clients to sign a waiver to acknowledge
that we have informed you of this risk.

Subscribe to Termageddon here with promo code CLARITYWEB to get a discount if you’re not a client of ours or you choose to manage your website policies on your own outside of our maintenance plans.

Termageddon’s solution has been vetted by IAPP, the world’s largest global information privacy community, and is the best we’ve found. We are a Termageddon affiliate because we like their solution, we’ve seen business owners subjected to legal threat by a website visitor, and we want to help protect you from that experience. If you subscribe through our Executive Level maintenance plan, we cover the cost and labor to implement your privacy policy and maintain your policies pages.

See details here about our Executive Website Maintenance Plan that includes website policies.