Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions Required ?

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Hi Group,

I'm a European webmaster suddenly working on a pair of U.S. websites
and am trying to find out if it's required to have a 'Privacy Policy'
and a 'Terms & Conditions' listed on American websites.

As background info, our sites currently have no eCommerce functions,
though this may be added at some point in the future.

Thanks in advance for the tip,


Re: Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions Required ?

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Maybe, but my two commercial sites don't have them. One client shied
away from a 'Privacy Policy' when a guy there and I kept pointing out
defects in it. I doubt it's necessary if the points will never come up,
but I'm no lawyer. Is the client accumulating customer data or selling a
product online? Neither of mine are, so I'm not particularly worried
about it.
If either selling product or gathering data are involved, I'd be worried
enough to tell the customer to draft both. If not for legal reasons,
surely for customer comfortability reasons.
It shouldn't be tough on you. It's a matter of the customer giving you
the proper text to create the HTML. And maybe leaving commented out
navigation for the links later. My two cents, and that's all it's worth.



Re: Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions Required ?

thanks for your feedback leo.

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we're not presently selling products online..though perhaps we will in
the future.

but there is a registration function for the website, and a sign-up
form with fields for company name, street address, phone number, fax,
etc..., so i guess this qualifies as 'collecting customer data'?

Re: Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions Required ?

Hi Tom -

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I would say so.  Though not *required*, IMO this calls for a Privacy
Policy which defines exactly what will be done with the information.
If under any circumstances the company will give/rent/sell the
information to anyone else, even some other sister company, that
should be made explicitly clear.

If there is any on-going relationship established, IMO opinion there
should be Terms and Conditions which define how either party can
terminate the relationship, and under what circumstances it may be
terminated automatically, etc.

Ken /

Re: Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions Required ?

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There's no requirement in the US. There are very few privacy requirements
for private companies in the US compared to Europe. Most reputable companies
DO have a privacy policy posted and that policy must be adhered to by the
company or they may be successfully sued for deceptive business practices.
Also terms and conditions cannot be enforced unless the order process is
halted by not agreeing to them, and they are made visible to the visitor.
For instance, if you say "Do you agree with "this" and "this" is a link to
another page but the order can be completed without actually showing the
terms on the screen, they aren't enforcable.

Re: Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions Required ?

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It's not required to have these "for a website".  However if you do
something more with the site, such as selling through it, or offering
services that might attract kids, or running some sort of chat / BB
facility, then you will probably find it useful to have them.

Privacy policy should mean P3P and a human readable equivalent of it. To
begin with it's useful for any website to actually think through their
privacy policy. Do you _really_ need that default session cookie from
ASP/PHP ?   How long do you plan to keep that email address for, and
would you ever sell it for spamming ?  The "policy" is really just
documenting decisions you ought to be making out in the open and
recording anyway - it's a good thing for everyone.

T&Cs are most obviously needed for commerce, but they can be useful for
other sites too. What's your policy for linking to your site ?  For
hotlinking to images?  For grabbing copies of potentially copyrighted
images ?  If you _can_ make a clear statement about these things, put it
out in the open where everyone can see it. "Good fences make good
neighbours".  It's also worth doing this _before_ you need it,
esepcially for IP rights about a desirable image you haven't uploaded
yet - best to make the "no thieving" statement before it's up there to
be blagged.

If you're dealing with the US, you might also want to look at COPPA, in
connection with young kids.

I'd also suggest PICS rating (with both RSAC and SafeSurf) on the
homepage at least. There are a small number of users using "block
unrated sites by default" and so even if you don't have anything you
need to rate for, it's still worth stating the null rating.

Re: Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions Required ?

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Have you looked at similar US sites?

Re: Privacy Policy / Terms & Conditions Required ?

tom wrote:
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As others have said, it's not e requirement.  But all the responsible
sites I know of have them.  They're good to have and don't take much
time to put together.

The privacy policy gives customers a better feeling that their info
won't be misused (except by some privacy policies I've seen which
basically say "we can do anything we want with your info including
selling your email address to spammers").

The Terms of Service are more to protect the company.  By agreeing to
the TOS, the customer is effectively giving up some rights in return for
using the site.

Again, as others have said, look at some U.S. sites.

Remove the "x" from my email address
Jerry Stuckle
JDS Computer Training Corp.

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