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Web Site Privacy Policies and Terms of Use

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2011 | Business Transactions

Your company has decided to establish a presence on the internet and you and other company employees have worked diligently on the graphics and have made sure that the site is attractive and functional.

Before you go live, there is one more thing to think about and that is; the language at the bottom of the page. We have all seen it and may or may not have paid much attention to it; but you need to do so. It is time to draft the privacy policy provisions as well as the terms of use.

The content of both the privacy policy and the terms of use are determined by the purpose of the site. Is it advertising and merely a supplement to your overall advertising program and thus solely informational or will the site be used to transact business?

If you are using the site to transact business will your company compile customer information? Will the site be restricted to members only? Will the site be restricted to persons over the age of 18, or will it be directed to minors? Will there be contests, games, quizzes and/or other interactive activities?

The answers to these questions and more will not only drive the design of your company’s site, but the terms of use and privacy policies you will need to post. Also, you may require all users to formally accept these policies prior to allowing full access to the site.

Regardless of the nature of the site, there are some basic requirements for every site if the site will be used for purposes other than advertising.

Your company will have to explain what information you are collecting and what you will do with the collected information. If the site is for members only, you will need to clearly spell out the terms of membership and allow members to opt out if they no longer wish to be members. If you are allowing access to minors, or are actually encouraging such access, it would be wise to not only have a disclaimer as to use, but in addition you may want to make parents aware of such use by asking for a separate form of consent.

The terms of use will almost entirely be determined by the nature of the site, but if the site is in any way selling goods and/or services then your company must always include all the standard disclaimers of warranty and limitations of liability that would be found in any contract for the sale of goods and services.

There are other standard requirements such as proper copyrights notices and a clear recognition of trade-marks and trade-names, especially if you are using another entity’s marks with their permission and jurisdictional language.

The terms of use provisions and privacy policies are not a one size fits all company document. Only with a clear understanding of the nature of the site and the transactions that will occur can these two documents be properly drafted. We at Hamblett & Kerrigan, PA can provide the necessary expertise to make sure that your company is properly protected.

Paul D. Creme is an attorney with Hamblett & Kerrigan PA. His practice is focused on business and corporate law. Of particular interest are the areas of software and emerging technologies. You can reach Attorney Creme at [email protected].