036 – Why you need legal pages on your website

Jan 25, 2021 | Podcast

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If you have a website that collects user data, or provide some sort of product or service, you probably should have legal information available to your website users.

What legal information you should have and why

Legal information refers to the rules of engagement if someone wants to use your website. It declares what happens on your site, and satisfies legal requirements in different countries or regions around data protection.

Some common legal pages:

  • Privacy Policy – This outlines what user data you collect and how it gets used.
  • Terms of Use (Terms and Conditions) – This outlines the rules that you set for anyone who uses your website.
  • Cookie Policy/Notice – Makes user aware of cookies and allows them to consent.

What if you don’t sell products or collect information on your site?

If you have a modern website, you most likely need a privacy policy as you probably collect personally identifiable user information. This could include, name, email address, phone number, date of birth, physical address or IP address.

Most sites nowadays are primarily software-based and need certain information saved on the user. For example, web browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox have features that communicate with a WordPress website and saves user information in the form of a cookie. This data is then used to track user activities and tailor the experience.

What happens if you don’t have legal information on your website?

Many sites have been operating quite fine over the years without any of this legal information and they haven’t gotten into any trouble. However, data protection laws have been becoming stricter and so you could leave yourself open to lawsuits or big fines if you have been found to be in breach the rules.

These rules vary across the world, and by nature of how the internet works, users could be located anywhere in the world. Being compliant worldwide is important regardless of where you are based.

GDPR and other rules and regulations

One of the legal frameworks to follow is The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is based in the EU but also applies outside the EU, provided that EU residents can access your website. It sets out guidance on the collection and processing of personal data.

In the US, there are various state-based regulations and it can be pretty confusing and difficult to keep track of. It is worth making sure you comply with these local rules if you have users in these states.

Each country may also have their own rules so you may need to include these in your privacy policy.

How can I get these legal pages?

These pages have to be carefully put together based on how your users interact with the site. There are a number of options available to you for writing the content for these pages. Of course, you could write it yourself, but only if you feel that you have sufficient understanding of the various rules or laws and you are confident that you can put together effective documents.

A better way would be to have it taken care of for you by using an existing tool.

Here are a few options:

  • privacypolicies.com – this service offers a free and a premium option depending on what needs to be in your documents.
  • Termageddon – this is premium service which covers worldwide regulations and provides automatic updates to the privacy policy page whenever there’s a change to the rules.
  • Iubenda – premium service

To summarise

  • You do need a privacy policy even if you only collect basic information.
  • It is wise to have a Terms of Use page to let people know how you expect them to use your site.
  • You can use a service to create your legal pages instead of trying to make one up yourself as you may.

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