Is Your Website Illegal?
in Legal Tips

Is Your Website Illegal?

One of the first things we do when we go into business is to get business cards and create a website (our online business card and lead magnet). And when we create our business website, we not only worry about making sure it is aesthetically pleasing for the Internet user, but also for goggle and all the other search engines out there. All of a sudden, we become experts in such terms as SEO, AdWords, font type, blogging, etc. However, do you know you also need to make sure that your business website complies with certain legal requirements. I know; I know, leave it to the lawyer to create more work for you. But also leave it to Claudia to give you a brief summary of the key concepts your website has to cover.

Privacy Policy: In a nutshell, the privacy policy is your notice to the online user on what information you are collecting from them, how you will collect the information, what you will do with their information and whether you will share this information with a third party. Contrary to popular believe a privacy policy doesn’t apply only to online retailers, or if you collect financial information. It applies to anyone who collects any type of personal information (i.e., an email). So if you collect emails through your website for your newsletter, you need a privacy policy. By the way, even if you are only collecting emails for your newsletter you are sharing this information with third parties. After all, you are sending your newsletter through a third party (such as AWeber and Mail Chimp), and your website is hosted through a third party. You also need a privacy policy if you use traffic data information to analyze the traffic to your website. And we all do this, after all how else can we know if all those SEOs are working goggle magic!

Terms of Use: This is your contract with the online user. Just like you have a contract with your physical clients, you need to have one with your online visitors. Your Term of Use provisions should cover such areas as your right to use information posted on your site by visitors, how and when the content of your website may be use, website security, warranties and liabilities, jurisdiction, arbitration, etc. While the Privacy Policy is there to protect the online user, the Terms of Use is there to protect you, your business and your website.

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Disclosure and Disclaimers: You also need to make sure your website contains any disclaimers or disclosures about your advertising. A typical example would be a “review” for a product you did not pay for or received a discount for. While it is ok to blog or vlog about products you used or like, you have to let people know when the product was given to you for free or at a discount. Just make sure to have that information on your website. You don’t want any government agency claiming you are committing unfair practices (or other mambo jumbo legal things). By the way, this also applies if you are doing any affiliated marketing. Your online visitors need to know about it. This is an FTC requirement.

Professional Licensing Boards: Certain types of websites require additional information. For instance, a medical website through which personal information is collected must comply with HIPPA.

While I know I gave you a handful of information, trust me, it will be easy to implement. You just need to make sure that the privacy policy and terms of use you use for your website are drafted specifically for you and for the way you conduct business. Just as we want to make sure our websites attract more business, we want to be sure we are clear with our online visitors (whom will hopefully become future clients). There is no better way to do business than when everyone is on the same page.

Bite-Size Legal Tip: Go to your website and check to see if you have: i) a disclaimer, ii) terms of use, and iii) a privacy policy. If you are missing any one of these, go to your calendar and schedule a time when you will take care of getting the missing document for your website. Make sure to schedule it for some time within the next two weeks or hit reply and let’s talk about how I can take care of that for you.