Website Disclosures

When it comes to website disclosures, there are several types that every website should have in order to be transparent and compliant with relevant laws and regulations. These disclosures help to protect both the website owner and the website user by clarifying the terms of use, privacy policies, and any other important information about the website. These elements ensure readers that your website is legitimate, legally compliant and user-friendly.

There are many components of effective web design. Web design is challenging on the best of days, but it can be particularly overwhelming when you need to include disclosures. No one wants to be bogged down by legalese and long agreements, but they are necessary to protect yourself from litigious people.

But first, let’s take a look at the organizations and laws that manage the privacy and disclosures you need to include. They are:

GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation Disclosures

The GDPR protects “data subjects,” who are natural persons and does not specify residency or citizenship requirements

CCPA: California Consumer Privacy Act

The CCPA protects “consumers” who are natural persons and who must be California residents in order to be protected.

CalOPPA: California Online Privacy Protection Act

A California law that requires operators of commercial websites and online services to display a privacy policy. CalOPPA does not contain explicit exemptions. However, organizations are exempted from CalOPPA if they are subject to Federal laws that preempt state law.

PIPEDA: Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

This is a federal privacy law for private-sector organizations. It sets out the ground rules for how businesses must handle personal information in the course of their commercial activity

While reading through these requirements, keep in mind that not all websites need every disclosure. Your requirements may vary according to your product or service, industry, state, country or other factors. Most of our laws in the US are a result of California setting the standard.

1. Terms of Use / Terms & Conditions

Terms and conditions (T&C) are a set of rules that govern the relationship between a website and its users. They specify the terms of use, such as access to content, intellectual property rights, and user conduct. It’s important to make sure that users agree to these terms before using the website.

T&C policies are not legally required in all countries, but they are strongly recommended as they protect both the website owner and the user.

2. Privacy Policy

A privacy policy explains how the website collects, uses, and shares personal information from users. This can include things like cookies, tracking technologies, and third-party services. Websites should be transparent about their data collection practices and provide users with the option to opt out of certain types of data collection.

A privacy policy also discloses the ways in which a website collects, uses, discloses, and manages user data. It outlines the types of information collected, how it is used, and who it is shared with.

A privacy policy is required by law in most countries, including the United States and the European Union. It is important to ensure that the privacy policy accurately reflects the website’s data collection and use practices.

3. Cookie Policy

A cookie policy explains how the website uses cookies and other tracking technologies to collect data from users. It should explain what types of cookies are used, what data is collected, and how that data is used. These are often in the form of pop-up windows on websites that allow the user to accept or reject your cookie policy.

A cookie policy is a legal requirement under privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU and UK. These laws require websites to disclose what personal data is being “processed” (collected, stored or otherwise acted on) and the purposes of such processing.

While they are not legally required in the US, it’s important to understand that they will eventually be the standard for all websites. This is just one more reason it’s important to hire a professional web designer for your business website. At Moonlit Media, we care about the lifespan of your website and will recommend that you include these policies on your website.

The UK has some of the strictest cookie policies as the GDPR sets out seven key principles:

  1. Lawfulness, fairness and transparency.
  2. Purpose limitation.
  3. Data minimization.
  4. Accuracy.
  5. Storage limitation.
  6. Integrity and confidentiality (security)
  7. Accountability.

Failure to include a cookie policy on your website may result in your site being black-listed or search engines refusing to index your site due to non-compliance.

4. Disclosure Policy

If a website publishes sponsored content or reviews, it’s important to have a disclosure policy that explains how these relationships work. This can help to avoid any accusations of bias or conflicts of interest.

5. Affiliate Disclosures

If a website earns commission from affiliate links or referrals, it’s important to disclose this to users. This helps you build trust with the audience and avoid any accusations of deception.

In addition, you should always include the words “promoted, sponsored or affiliate” should you promote these links or content with the links on any social media page. The rise of influencers has resulted in the FTC cracking down on users who don’t disclose that they are affiliated with a website, earning income, or affiliated with the company they are promoting.

6. General Disclaimer

A disclaimer is a statement that limits a website’s liability for certain types of content or actions. For example, a medical website may have a disclaimer stating that the information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.

A disclaimer warns users that the information provided on the website is not a substitute for professional advice and that the website owner is not responsible for any damages or losses that may arise from the use of the website.

Disclaimers are particularly important for websites that provide information or advice on a sensitive topic such as healthcare.

7. Copyright Notice

Copyright Notices help inform users that the content on your website is protected by copyright law. A copyright notice is not legally required in all countries, but it is recommended for all websites. You can add one by simply adding this statement at the very bottom of your home page, which says:

Copyright © 2023 Name of Company. All Rights Reserved

Website Disclosures

While these are not all of the notices available on a website, they are the ones most often required by search engines. At Moonlit Media, we will suggest which disclosures and agreements you will need for your website. However, we are not lawyers and we encourage you to do research on this topic for your specific industry.

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