Privacy Policies Versus Terms and Conditions Agreements
Privacy Policies and Terms and Conditions (T&C) agreements are both, as the names imply, legally binding contracts.
The main difference between these two types of agreements is this:
- A T&C agreement exists to protect you, the company.
But there's a lot more to it than just that. Let's take a look at each agreement and what they accomplish for you and your customers.
Privacy Policies weren't always required for business owners. It's only been recently that software developers and anyone else gathering personally identifying and/or private information from clients have become legally obligated to have Privacy Policies.
Privacy regulations have been created by governmental bodies, like the aforementioned California and EU, to protect their citizens' privacy. There is not yet any way and nor is it profitable to simply say, "Fine, so I just won't sell to people in those places."
Here are just a few reasons why:
This may not seem like such a big thing, but in a world where people assume it's okay to pirate information and sell it to the highest bidder, everyone loses, including you. People need to know and be reminded of their rights.
Keep it separate from any other legal agreements you may have. Make sure it has its own section and is referenced as such.
Make sure to include the word "Privacy" in the agreement's title and in any references or links to it.
If your product is a software app, make sure a link to the agreement is posted on your app's dashboard, on your app's website, and in any online marketplace where the app is distributed.
Make sure that users know how to make changes, if necessary, to any of the information they provide and that they understand that they can withdraw their information (and how to do so).
According to Giovanni Buttarelli, supervisor of the European data-protection authority, "We need to first focus on compliance, and therefore what is more important is that people receive shorter, more communicative notices based on very simple and concise language, and where you do not need to make use of artificial intelligence" [to interpret it].
- Answer the questions related to your entity type and location.
- Answer the questions relating to what type of information you collect from your users.
The Importance of Terms & Conditions Agreements
A T&C agreement might include the following:
- A disclaimer regarding the company's liability, such as this from The Spruce Eats:
- Usage restrictions and prohibited activities while using the site
- What the company is prepared to do in cases of abuse of the platform, such as terminating an account
- Copyright and intellectual property information
- Warranty disclaimers
- Terms for billing
- Subscription agreements
Drafting Your T&aamp;C Agreement
Some things to keep in mind:
- This agreement is the perfect receptacle for all the information you need to share with users regarding copyright, licensing rights, rules of use, and limits of liability.
- This is also the place to spell out what users can expect to happen if they abuse the platform (e.g. their accounts being terminated)
Since there aren't any laws regulating the way T&C agreements need to be written or presented, you should follow best practices.
Write your T&C agreement to be clear, easy to follow and very informative.
- Inform the user about what personally identifying information you'll be collecting.
- Explain why you're collecting this information.
- Explain what you're going to do with it, including with which third parties you may be sharing it.
- Tell the users which security measures are in place to ensure the security of their information.
- Tell the users how then can see and change their information in their account with you.
- How your product is allowed to be used
- Warranty disclaimers
- Billing information
- Under what circumstances a user's account might be terminated
- Copyright information
- Requirements for user-generated content