You may have hired a professional design team to build or revamp your company’s website. But does your website also include the necessary legal provisions to comply with the law and provide the requisite transparency to your customers? It’s important to understand the legal terms that need to appear on your website as well – and makes sure they fully protect you and your business.

Terms of use

On most websites, the terms of use agreement usually appears as a pop-up, which the user is prompted to accept. What goes into your terms of use agreement depends on what type of business you conduct and what data your website collects. It may include such information as:

  • Use of cookies
  • Product returns policy
  • Disclaimer for lost, held or damaged packages
  • Legal disclaimers
  • Billing notices

Social engagement

In the era of social media, many consumers now want to engage with the business they patronize – not just be marketed to. As a result, many companies now have a chat forum or public comments section on their website, which allows customers to communicate directly with the business.

In such situations, you as the business owner naturally forfeit some control over the content that’s published on your site. It’s important to protect yourself. Your terms of use agreement should include verbiage that helps to protect you against liability for other people’s potentially slanderous or offensive comments.

Privacy policy

If you collect personal information on your website (e.g., user names, addresses, emails, payment details), you need to explain how it will be used. Will you share it with others? Will you sell it to a third-party marketing firm? If not, make a point of saying so. Both US and international laws have extensive requirements about website privacy disclosures and policies.

In addition, if your privacy policy ever changes down the road, it’s your responsibility to notify your users and give them the option to remove their personal information.

It’s also important to note that your website’s target audience matters. If your website aims to reach children age 12 and under, different rules apply. Make sure you adhere to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.

What not to do

Do not use a template. While you can download templates for such policies online or copy from a competitor’s site, the result may not cover the full breadth of the requirements applicable to your company.

Your terms of use and privacy policies create important legal protections for you. It’s critical to make sure that they’re written properly and accurately to reflect your company’s specific needs. Failing to do this can open your company up to liability. A business attorney can help you draft such statements to ensure your interests are protected.