Privacy Policies, Terms, Conditions: Pieces of the Legal Food

The average online medium would encourage a user to read and accept certain policies, terms and conditions, or provide certain legal interactions between the user and the website. With the common saying, "where there is no law, there is no sin", there is a call for practically, everything that belongs to the digital and internet world to be governed by a policy. As such, it is a clear note that every blog, website, app or digital innovation must have policies that govern it's use. 
To form these policies, it's not enough to slap together a few sentences and be off to place it up, or possibly copy sample documents and paste with little or no significant tailored changes. For one, a privacy policy is a legal document that take into account all nuances of law. This discussion shall thus contain reasons why these policies exist and what effect they have on users.

Into the bargain, one reason why digital policies are advised to exist on internet platforms includes that a digital policy builds Trust in such innovation, blog, business, app or website. When a user sees a privacy policy, whether or not they read it, there is a subconscious belief and trust. Some websites display privacy safe trust seals in digital images to show visitors an up-to-date privacy policy. This is proven to have increased the level of trust between online businesses and their visitors. It also gives the visitor, peace of mind and security because, by explaining what you do with their personally identifiable information (PII), they feel comfortable, stay on your site longer, and may refer their friends and family to join your online platform.

Various states, countries, as well as organizations, require you to display a policy if you collect, store, use or share personal data like emails, names, or payment info. You need to explain what you plan to do with your visitors' and customers' personal data. As a consequence of running a platform without a comprehensive privacy policy, you risk the probability of being sued. In recent times, Facebook, Google and many more companies have all faced lawsuits over questionable privacy policies.

For facebook, a more recent case was the questioning where none of them seemed to really understand the issues to the full. They kept asking the same questions, paraphrased and Mark kept repeating himself. Senator John Kennedy said, "I don't feel we are connecting, Your user agreement sucks." Mark, calm and respectfully answered all the while. Senator Dick Durbin also asked,
"Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?" the 72-year-old asked.

Mr Zuckerberg paused for a full eight seconds, chuckled and said, "Um, uh, no,"
The Senator asked again, "And "if you've messaged anybody this week would you share with us the names of the people you've messaged?" .
Again, Mark said, "Maybe not here in the public."
"I think that might be what this is all about," said Durbin, "Your right to privacy, the limits of your right to privacy, and how much you give away in modern America in the name of connecting people around the world."
Regulations are coming to the Social Media scene concerning privacy and user data. The problem is, if they are going to be the RIGHT regulations? Mark possibly fears OVER-REGULATION. These regulations, if adverse, may affect the guy who is presently thinking of the next Facebook, and especially trying to disrupt Social Media via Blockchain technology.
Mark also mentions that "There will always be a free version of Facebook". We may infer that a paid version is in the works- Like a no-ads pro version, bring more privacy issues to the table.
Digital policies also fulfill third-party requirements. Companies like Google and Apple require that you display a privacy policy on your website or app to certify their relations with you. Now, if you do not plan to personally collect sensitive personal data, using a third-party service to collect data or display ads, like Google Analytics or Adsense, still means that you're collecting personal information and the user has a right to be informed. If app users can't find your privacy policy for whatever reason, your app could be suspended or terminated. In some nations, hefty fines are another consequence, often enforced for not displaying an active privacy policy

Differentiating Privacy Policies, Terms, Conditions, Refund Policies and Licences.

Privacy Policy
A Privacy policy is a document that states what you plan to do with information that is not publicly available (this includes IP address, JavaScript status, flash version, etc.) It describes what data you collect from your users and how you use such data. A " privacy policy" differs from a "terms of use". It is your disclosure to your website users about how you collect and use their personal information. Some states, as California, require that you make this disclosure with an Online Privacy Protection Act that requires all website operators that collect "personally identifiable information" to post a privacy policy on their websites. As such even if your business is not based in California, unless you block all California users from your website, it is highly likely to be visited by California residents and therefore subject to "privacy policy" requirements.

Why Have Your Own Privacy Policy and Terms of Use?
While your web developer can supply your website with standard terms of use or a standard privacy policy, they are drafting contracts with your site users and it is unlikely that it will be tailored to suit your business. Web developers may simply copy terms of use and a privacy policy from another website and so are by no standards, supposed to create a policy or terms of use document for you.

For instance, if the privacy policy states that you do not share PII with anyone else, but your business model includes a joint venture with another company with whom you share your database, then you have violated your own privacy policy and could be subject to a claim of breach or misrepresentation. Also, you might use a privacy policy that states that your website collects cookies (a piece of information about a user) when your website does not, thus, discouraging some users from using your website.

Terms of use and privacy policies are copyright-protected documents. In other words, it is thus illegal to copy them without permission. If your agent - web developer or employee - copies the policies, you are legally responsible for their acts. For example, Piggybank and Cowrywise are online savings platforms in Nigeria. If Cowrywise copies Piggybank's Privacy policy and terms of use for her operations, Piggybank has a copyright claim.

Like other contracts, it is best to tailor the terms of use and privacy policy to your specific needs and consult a lawyer experienced in internet law since, the purpose of terms of use and privacy policies is to limit risk, not to increase it. 

"Terms of use" is a contract with users of your website that discusses rules expected of visitors to follow, requirements for submitting comments, posting content or making orders, membership information, disputes jurisdiction issues and provisions to protect you and your company from claims. For example, if users post content on your website, how do you know they have the rights to post that content? The user might steal someone else's photograph, video, song, poem or story and share it with the world by posting it on your website. It is very important that you have a policy in your "terms of use" that lets the true owner know how to reach you if they request removal of that content. It could include a disclaimer stating that each user of your website is solely responsible for whatever content he or she uploads. This policy makes the difference between being liable for copyright infringement or not.

Also, if you don't permit users to post content or comments on your website, "terms of use" are important. If you provide a service or sell goods from your website, you could be subjecting your company to a lawsuit in any state. Let's say you ship a widget to Mississippi and the purchaser gets hurt because of a defect in the widget. Or maybe your customer in Europe is unhappy with your widget. Having a statement in your "terms of use" that any disputes will be decided in Arizona courts can make the difference in whether you end up in court in Arizona, another state, or even another country. Your terms of use could include conditional statements, licensing, and refund policies as the case may be.

Touching refund policies, for websites that permit online exchange and currency transactions, a refund policy may be embedded to include details as to when and when not to refund a visitor based on certain actions. In cases like this, it is usually warned that such visitors enter their card details on only trusted websites with Site Security Lock (SSL) certificates. These sites show a padlock security sign upon load and are usually accompanied with an "http(s)" formula.

Conclusively, Blogs, Websites and online pages generally need these document pieces on their legal plates. Most blogs in this reign believe they could run without these documents, fortunately because the parent hosts, like blogger and WordPress have covered issues relating to privacy. But then, by the law, an extra mile should be taken. If you plan to sell your visitors or customers information, be upfront and state it in your policy. It may send a few people off, but it is better safe than sorry; even if it means losing a few customers. If you collect information without a policy stating what you do with that information, then you could be in some legal trouble. There are disclosure requirements for this type of information and there is essentially no reason not to create and include a privacy policy on your website. The implications of receiving a fine depends on the country/state of where you are located. But regardless of the severity, it just won't be good for business, as it may affect your site integrity.

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  1. This was very educating and enlightening. Thanks for sharing this information


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