What web legals do I actually need?

What web legals do I actually need?

What web legals do I actually need?

Spent a lot of money on your business’s website? By including legal documents on your website you can make sure it doesn’t cost you more than it should.

You may be surprised to learn that investing in those fine-print documents many of us do not read, may actually save you a lot of money down the track and can be a surprisingly powerful marketing tool.

There are a number of legal documents you might choose to include on your website depending on your business and how your site is used. These may include privacy policies, terms of use documents, copyright notices, disclaimers, accessibility information, complaints information, trademarks, patents and other corporate policies that your business or company might have in place.

Of these, there are two that I advise all of my clients to invest in: privacy policies and terms of use. This post sets out what should be included in each of these and why they are so important.

1. Privacy Policies

In Canada, privacy legislation at both the federal and provincial level actually requires you to build a privacy policy that explains how you collect, use and disclose your customer’s personal information, and more importantly, the measures you have in place to protect it.

Posting your privacy policy on your website is the best way to comply with these requirements.

A typical policy will include:

  • use of cookies and other trackers;
  • whether you share any personal information collected;
  • contact information for destroying personal information;
  • how you safeguard personal information; and
  • information about third party sites that might collect information such as advertisers.

Building a privacy policy is not only a great way to shore up your internal processes on handling personal information, it can also be a powerful marketing tool. Consumers are demanding an increasing level of transparency and a privacy policy is a great way to communicate to your customers that you care about protecting their personal information.

In B.C. you are actually required to have a dedicated privacy officer to oversee the implementation of a company’s privacy policy and handle any customer queries. The process of building a privacy policy for your website can help you build complementary internal practices and prepare your dedicated privacy officer for their position.

These requirements are complex, and you should consult a business lawyer to ensure that your policy ticks all the legal boxes.

2. Terms and Conditions of Use

A terms of use document sets out all of the rules governing how users interact with your site. Unlike a privacy policy, there is actually no legal requirement that you include a terms of use document on your site. There are, however, a number of reasons that it is important to have one.

First of all, terms of use create a legally binding contract with your users. For this reason they are essential to limiting your liability should a client or customer take you to court. If you are ever facing a legal battle, the court will actually look at your website to determine the nature of the contractual relationship between you and your customer. In your terms of use you can  include a disclaimer of liability for any errors that are found on your website, and set the governing law to a jurisdiction of your choosing.

In order to optimize your protection, you will want to tailor what you cover in your terms of use to the way your clients engage with your website. If you sell products or services via your site, you can use this document to set out the terms and conditions of sale. If you provide user forums, you can prevent abuses and impose penalties when they occur.

Terms of use are also essential to protecting your rights to the content you include on your site. You can set out intellectual property ownership information in your terms of use that will safeguard your logo, design and content.

Given that whatever you include in your terms and conditions page will have contractual ramifications, and may even trigger obligations under consumer legislation, I highly recommend approaching a business lawyer to assist you in putting together a strong document that will be able to stand up in court should a dispute arise.

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