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Why Do We Need Privacy Policies and Terms of Service

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Updated December 1, 2020 Alba Dalmau Diaz

An aspect that many know exist, but few pay attention to, is what we refer to as the Privacy Policies and Terms of Service – a.k.a Terms of Use or simply Terms and Conditions. The digital transformation has set off alarms in countries all over the world about digital practices regarding data collection and data sharing from customers, suppliers, and collaborators, among others.

 

Privacy Policies and Terms of Service are sections that must be included in a website, and they must be visible and easily accessible to users. In simple terms, companies use the Privacy Policy to inform the user regarding the fact that specific private data of there is collected, and explain how it is handled, i.e why is it collected and if/whit who is it shared.

 

On the other hand, the Terms of service mostly refer to the contents, services, and other offering a platform provides, and specifically how they should be used by the customer or user. As expected the Privacy Policies and Terms of Service are two aspects that can be handled separately.

 

But most sites tend to unite both policies because, in the end, they are seriously related and in the same space. So, in this article, we will take a deeper look at what each of them is and why we need them, and then we will check out a few best practice tips on how to write your Privacy Policy and terms and conditions. Enjoy!

 

What is Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy is a legal document or a list of statements that explain how an organization retains, processes, and handles user or customer data, and it is most commonly used on websites and mobile applications.

 

The Privacy Policy declares that the practices and processes adopted within the page are reflected to give the user all the transparency in relation to the data used. Moreover, Privacy Policies are enforced by different legal authorities, depending on each region.

 

For example, in the European Union, Privacy Policy requirements are enforced under the General Data Protection Regulations, or GDPR, that came into effect in April 2016. In the US, privacy policies are enforced and regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC.

 

Privacy Policy
Source: Slipform

 

Regardless, Privacy Policies should inform the visitor or potential client about all the addresses, guarantees, forms of use, recognized data, and the processing that applies with respect to this and any other personal information.

 

A common practice is asking users to read and approve Privacy Policy at the time of registration, so they can use said service, meaning you cannot use their platform unless you approve of its terms. You can always update, modify, or cancel them. However, the personal data collected on the web pages must be confidential.

 

The purpose of the Privacy Policy is to ensure users that their data will be collected for a specific purpose, and with your consent. The data cannot be transferred to third parties, and they will only receive information from you.

 

What are Terms of Service, Terms of Use, or Terms and Conditions

The Terms of Service or Terms of conditions are elements that regulate the relationship with the user regarding access to the content, products, and services that are available through the website. These conditions are drafted unilaterally by the owner of the website without the possibility of users having the ability to negotiate since they are adhesion contracts.

 

The terms must be defined according to the specific needs and nature of each web page.

 

Terms of Service
Source: WPForms

 

It’s important that your website has a detailed inclusion of the rules that will govern the contractual relationship between you and the users, so they know what are the responsibilities that the owner of the website assumes with respect to the service provided, as well as to inform the user of their rights and obligations for accessing the content and using the services offered by the web.

 

Any violation of the Terms and Conditions of use established in the document provided on your site will be considered sufficient cause for you to suspend the service to the user who has incurred in such conduct.

 

Why do we Privacy Policies and Terms of Service?

The protection of personal data has become a very important issue in recent years, mainly with the rise of social networks and the virtual movement of data. The infiltration of this information and its misuse have increased concern about this issue.

 

If user data is stored, you are able to know what your web positioning statistics are, and the users subscribed by mail or registered to your platform. However, aside from these, it’s important to correctly implement the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to obey the established law and guarantee the security of the data collected.

 

From a legal point of view

Legal regulations require that the user is aware of the contracting conditions of a product or service, so an incomplete or inappropriate wording may lead to the imposition of a sanction by a public entity.

 

For this reason, it is recommended that the conditions are clearly established, that is, avoiding ambiguous or obscure wording since the user must know and understand the rules to which they are subject.

 

The content of these conditions must include in a detailed and clear way matters such as the limitation of liability and user guarantees, in order to avoid future problems such as claims or lawsuits due to misunderstandings.

 

In legal terms, the Privacy Policies and Terms of Service give people more control over their information, more transparency, and clear consent, and adapt the fulfillment of obligations according to the level of risk that their treatment of data generated for people.

 

Obeying the legality of these terms is a commitment of the organization to its users and customers and with the guarantee of their rights. This will have a positive impact on the growth and strategic positioning of companies since they will obtain more and higher quality information, which will serve as the basis for decision-making.

 

Investing in data protection and risk and security assessment is investing in the future of our companies. You have to take advantage of these terms when using data and reflect on how to go beyond the legal obligation and integrate the guarantee of your clients’ rights as part of corporate responsibility.

Legal Policies
Source: Megaship

 

From the user’s point of view

The Privacy Policies and Terms of Service of our clients or potential clients are more than a legal obligation, it’s a moral obligation, and a necessary condition. The fact that our clients know we worry about their information will make them feel secure and come back to our services in the future.

 

Its importance lies in the trust it generates in customers, since the more knowledge the user has of the conditions of the product or service offered, the greater will be their confidence to make the purchase through said website.

 

Personal data protection is a vital element for the success of any activity, it cannot be limited to a mere declaration of intent. The measures we should and can adopt to guarantee the security of our clients’ data rely on different aspects:

  • What and which information is collected
  • How the information is gathered and managed
  • How said information is stored and protected

 

Having a database of people and the protection of companies is of vital importance for their proper functioning, the reliability of customers and to maintain a good image.

 

Tips on writing a GDPR Compliant Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

The first premise is that your Privacy Policies and Terms of Service must be personalized, it generates greater proximity with the user and establishes a very valuable differentiation with cold and impersonal policies that nobody understands. With this action, you show greater commitment to your users and that is always an asset and a great competitive advantage.

 

The key to a good Privacy Policy and Terms of Service is to give your clients information about how and why you are going to use their personal information. This includes the implications of your Cookie data collection in EU, which enforces your mandatory cookie consent, as well as how you protect your users’ data through SSLs and other encryption strategies.

 

In fact, having a cookie consent without it being mentioned in your Privacy Policy still makes you liable for penalties from the GDPR. Similarly, since there are different types of security layers SSL certificated add, you need to mention what the SSL type you are using will protect your users’ data.

 

To establish your privacy policy and make it a valid, personal and non-transferable document, you should ask yourself some questions about how would you like your personal data to be treated and collected to then highlight those answers in your Privacy Policies and Terms of Service.

 

According to GDPR the biggest problems when writing these policies is observed in the lack of conciseness and clarity. You should establish a series of guidelines, write the privacy notice in two layers, and avoid ambiguous expressions, using a direct, accessible language that does not give rise to interpretations.

 

The first level is the main headings presented with total clarity and the elements that make them up. This first level or layer would be followed by a second level that the user can access if they want more details on a particular point.

 

The GDPR establishes that the duty to inform implies providing information on:

  • The data controller
  • The purpose of the treatment
  • The legal basis or legitimacy to process the data
  • The recipients of the data
  • The exercise of rights
  • The origin of the data

 

 

When drafting the Terms and Conditions of use of your website you need to make sure you are fulfilling current regulations, and clarifying conditions of use such as the use of content (copyright), rules related to users right in cancellation or unsubscriptions, as well as potential liabilities users can face when interacting with the website.

 

If you don’t want to get into the process of writing your own policies, there are other great ways to get them done.

 

1. Hire a specialized team of professionals

There plenty of professional consultants dedicated exclusively to compliance with privacy and legal regulations.

 

With their services, you will no longer have to worry about complying with the GDPR yourself. Forget about problems and make sure you follow the obligations established by these laws. Most of the time, they will complete an audit of your company or business to know what are your needs, informing you of your obligations and the steps followed so that your business can comply with the law.

 

2. Use a template

There are plenty of templates online that you can use to create a Privacy Policies and Terms of Service for a personal blog that complies with the GDPR standard. Regardless, it is your responsibility to use the resources correctly, to provide the information required by your policies, and to ensure that the information you provide is current and accurate.

 

3. Take ideas from other websites or reputable brands

See what others within your field do and get an overview of what you have to expose and adapt your company policies to theirs. Although many companies opt to copy the Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, and the Cookie Policy believing that it is the same for everyone, keep in mind that these texts must be personalized for your business. They must specify:

    • Your business and activity data
    • What types of data do you collect and for what
    • The tools you use to process that data

 

Conclusion

The management of Privacy Policies and Terms of Service, fundamental for the digital transformation, responds to the need for generating trust and credibility to users on websites and mobile apps.

 

These policies instruct on the proper use of the data handled on sites and work together to create a compliant and secure website. Before releasing your website to the world, always make sure your policies are personalized to your business and keep a tight connection to your users’ needs and obligations, where all their rights are understandable and clear.






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