Privacy Policies are all about protecting the privacy rights and data security of your users, Terms of Service is focused on protecting you. The Terms of Service lays out the rules for users, and they should dictate what actions will result in users losing the right to use your site6 min read
There is often a lot of confusion surrounding what exactly Terms of Service are, and how they differ from Privacy Policies. Clients also wonder what the differences are between Terms of Service, User Agreements, and Terms and Conditions, but these agreements are generally synonymous, but for the sake of simplicity, we will collectively refer to this kind of agreement as Terms of Service or TOS.
The most prominent privacy laws are the GDPR (governing how to treat data from users based in the European Union) and the CCPA (governing how to treat data from users based in California). Nearly all states and countries have their own privacy laws, so don’t think you don’t need to address this if you have a site that focuses on users not based in California or the EU.
Why it is Collected: For any data you collect, you should explain why you are collecting it. Are you collecting email addresses so you can update the user about offers or website developments? Are you collecting various identifying data so you can show them advertising that is likely relevant to them? Whatever the reason, you should include it. An increasingly common way of explaining what data you are collecting and why is by using a simple chart, listing the data collected on one side and the reason why it is being collected on the other.
How Users can Erase or Correct their Data on the site: You should state clearly not only how the person in charge of data on your site can be most effectively contacted, but you should also explain that users own their data and they have the right, at any time, to delete, update or otherwise correct their data.
Terms of Service
You will almost certainly need a customized TOS, but regardless of your unique TOS, you should have a firm understanding of terms that are nearly universal to all Terms of Service:
Prohibited Use: The TOS should be clear on what user actions are prohibited. At the very least, this list should include Intellectual Property infringement, harassment of other users, or uploading any viruses/malware to the site.
IP Ownership: It should be explicit that the company that owns the website maintains all of its ownership rights in its intellectual property, and using the site does not transfer any of these ownership rights to the users.
Payment Terms: If you collect payment from your users, your TOS should specify how users should pay and what happens if they don’t pay / if their card doesn’t go through. Are they on a subscription plan? Is it a flat fee? Whatever the details are, they should be laid out clearly here.
There are several other provisions you should have in your TOS, but these above are the most basic and will help get you started on thinking about what terms you will need.