Privacy Policies and Terms of Service are not at the top of small business owners’ to do lists. You have projects, deadlines, staff, and sales to worry about, so why should you add website policies to your list? What are these website policies, and where should you get one?

Required by law

Privacy Policies are required by law for websites that collect personally identifiable information. A good rule of thumb is this: if your website collects a name, email, or phone number on a contact form, you are collecting personally identifiable information. Here are some laws that may apply to you that require a Privacy Policy:

  • The California Online Privacy Protection Act of 2003;
  • The General Data Protection Regulation;
  • The California Consumer Privacy Act – goes into effect on January 1st, 2020.

Furthermore, there are over a dozen states that are currently considering new bills (including Illinois) that will require Privacy Policies and impose new requirements for what those Privacy Policies say.

What if your business is not located in California? Do these requirements still apply to you?

YES. The laws that are in place, and the proposed laws focus on where the website visitor is located, not on where the business collecting the information is based. The laws are meant to protect the consumer and not the business, meaning that protection is vital.

Requested by consumers

While complying with the law is certainly crucial, there is an even better reason to have policies – consumers want to see them. Consumers are increasingly more interested in the privacy of their information and are thus more interested in seeing how the businesses that they buy from protect that information. It is now common that the lack of a Privacy Policy or proper Terms of Service delays sales, something that a business never wants. Having policies will remove that barrier to buying and will show your customers that you can be trusted with their private information.

What is a Privacy Policy?

A Privacy Policy is an agreement on your website that specifies what information you collect, who you share that information with, and what you do with that information. A Privacy Policy is required by law for most websites that collect personal information.

What is Terms of Service?

Terms of Service is an agreement on your website that provides the rules that the user must follow to use your website. It helps limit your liability in case someone gets a virus from your website. It is also very helpful to limit your liability if you have third party links (e.g. social media) links as, if a user gets injured on those websites because they went there from your website, you can get sued as well. Terms of Service is also helpful to keep control of your website, protect your intellectual property and answer commonly asked customer questions such as “what is your cancellation or refund policy?”

What is an End User License Agreement?

An End User License Agreement is a must have for companies that offer software on their website that users can download. It will protect your software from abuses such as sharing licenses or reverse engineering.

What is a Disclaimer?

A Disclaimer is needed for attorney websites, health or dietician websites or affiliates. A Disclaimer will inform your users that they need to consult a professional before adopting a certain health tip, that advice on a website is not legal advice, and will provide the required disclosures needed to become an affiliate.

Where can I get policies?

That’s a smart question. These policies should go on your todo list – they’re something that will save you a lot of money and headache in the long run. The best place to get a policy is an attorney who specializes in writing them. However, attorneys can be expensive and this choice may not be feasible for many small businesses. For a more viable option for small business, we at CyberOptik recommend Termageddon. Termageddon is an online generator of policies that automatically updates the policies whenever the laws change, meaning that you don’t need to do it yourself.

If you contact CyberOptik and order your policies through us ($99/yr), we’ll get them set up and added to your website free of charge.

A big thank you to Donata of Termageddon for this educational post for our clients. If you’d like to get in touch with her directly with any questions:

Donata Kalnenaite
Termageddon, LLC

About: Donata is the President of Termageddon and the engineer behind the policy questions and text. She is a licensed attorney and a certified information privacy professional. She often volunteers at the Illinois State Bar Association holding courses on the General Data Protection Regulation where she teaches other attorneys on the importance of privacy and what Privacy Policies should contain. In her free time, Donata enjoys bee keeping, hunting for morel mushrooms and walks with her fiancé and two dogs.