As with any business, we have some great attorneys that we can contact regarding legal advice. It’s not inexpensive, though. Ensuring a client is fully compliant with all of the proper, documented policies and disclosures across their web properties can easily run up our legal fees into the tens of thousands of dollars. Legal advisors, contract reviews, and written policies are necessities of every business.
Across all surveyed countries, the total amount of GDPR fines has surpassed $2.5 billion. The largest fine to date is over $800 million USD. It was given to Amazon Europe.Privacy Affairs
If you don’t invest in being compliant, finding yourself a target of the government for violations or losing a lawsuit with a customer can easily destroy your business.
Compliance Checklist For Online Sites And Stores
There are a number of legal protections you must make to ensure your business is protected and your site is fully compliant with the laws of any region, state, province, or country:
1. Terms of Service
- Establishing rules and guidelines: The ToS sets forth the rules and guidelines that users must adhere to when using the site or service. By clearly defining these rules, the site/store can ensure that users understand their obligations and can take appropriate action against those who violate them.
- Protecting intellectual property: A ToS agreement often includes provisions related to intellectual property (IP), such as copyright and trademark. This helps protect the site/store’s proprietary content and brand identity, and it clarifies the extent to which users can use or share the content on the site.
- Limiting liability: A ToS agreement typically contains disclaimers and limitations of liability, which help protect the site/store from legal claims arising from user actions, errors, or issues with the site/service. These clauses can limit the damages a user may seek and may exclude certain types of claims altogether.
- Compliance with regulations: Websites and online stores often need to comply with various regulations, such as data privacy laws and consumer protection laws. A ToS can help demonstrate compliance with these regulations by outlining the site/store’s policies and practices in areas like data collection, storage, and use.
- Termination rights: The ToS agreement typically grants the site/store the right to terminate or suspend user accounts for violating the terms. This enables the site/store to maintain a safe and secure environment for other users and helps protect the site’s reputation.
- Governing law and dispute resolution: ToS agreements often specify the governing law and jurisdiction for any legal disputes that may arise between the site/store and its users. This can provide certainty for both parties and help streamline the resolution of disputes.
- Changes to the terms: The ToS often includes a clause stating that the site/store reserves the right to update or modify the agreement. This allows the site/store to adapt its terms to accommodate new regulations or changes in its business practices.
By having a well-crafted ToS in place, sites and stores can mitigate legal risks, protect their intellectual property, and ensure a better experience for their users or customers. Users, in turn, have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities when using the site or service.
- Limiting liability: Being transparent about cookie usage and obtaining user consent can help limit the site’s liability in case of disputes or regulatory action related to cookies or tracking technologies.
4. Refund Policy
A Refund Policy is essential for every online store because it outlines the terms and conditions under which customers can return or exchange products, as well as request refunds. Having a Refund Policy in place offers legal protection for the online store in the following ways:
- Compliance with consumer protection laws: Many countries have consumer protection laws that require businesses to have a clear and transparent Refund Policy. These laws often mandate specific refund, return, or exchange timeframes and conditions. By having a Refund Policy, the online store demonstrates compliance with these legal requirements, avoiding potential fines and penalties.
- Setting customer expectations: A well-defined Refund Policy clearly communicates the store’s terms and conditions for refunds, returns, and exchanges. This helps set customer expectations and prevents misunderstandings that could lead to disputes or legal issues.
- Limiting liability: By outlining the circumstances under which refunds, returns, or exchanges are allowed, a Refund Policy helps limit the store’s liability. It provides a framework for handling customer requests consistently and fairly, reducing the risk of legal claims or disputes.
- Resolving disputes: In case of disputes or disagreements with customers over refunds, returns, or exchanges, a clear Refund Policy serves as a reference point for resolution. This can help avoid escalation to legal action, as the policy outlines the store’s obligations and the customer’s rights.
- Enhancing customer trust: A transparent and fair Refund Policy can help build customer trust and confidence in the online store. This can lead to increased customer loyalty, repeat purchases, and a better overall reputation for the store.
A Refund Policy is crucial for online stores to comply with consumer protection laws, set customer expectations, limit liability, resolve disputes, and enhance customer trust. A well-defined Refund Policy helps protect the store legally and contributes to a positive shopping experience for customers.
5. End User License Agreement
A EULA is a contract between the platform and the customer that outlines the terms and conditions under which the user is granted the right to use the software, typically in the form of a license. EULAs are commonly used for software applications, games, and other digital products or services.
Online sites that distribute software, mobile apps, games, or other digital content often require a EULA. This includes software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, app stores, and websites offering downloadable content.
A EULA protects the business legally in several ways:
- Intellectual property protection: EULAs help businesses protect their intellectual property by granting users a limited license to use the software or content, rather than transferring ownership. The agreement typically outlines restrictions on copying, distributing, modifying, or reverse-engineering the software.
- Limiting liability: EULAs often include disclaimers and limitations of liability clauses that help protect the business from legal claims related to the software’s performance, errors, or potential damages caused by the use of the software.
- Usage restrictions: A EULA can set usage restrictions, such as prohibiting the use of the software for illegal purposes or in ways that violate other users’ rights. This helps the business maintain a positive reputation and avoid legal issues resulting from users’ actions.
- Termination rights: EULAs usually include provisions that allow the business to terminate the license and the user’s access to the software if the user violates the terms of the agreement. This enables the business to maintain control over its software and protect its interests.
In terms of compliance, while a EULA may not be strictly required by law, it is generally considered a best practice for businesses that distribute software or digital content. A EULA helps establish a clear legal framework for the use of the software, protecting the business’s intellectual property and limiting liability. Without a EULA in place, businesses may be more vulnerable to legal disputes or intellectual property infringement.
Termshub Compliance Platform
With Termshub, you can keep your sites or online stores fully compliant with the latest legal regulation for a few dollars a month. They offer a complete compliance solution along with multiple generators. You can find out what cookies your site is collecting to produce fully compliant legal documentation on your site. They even provide free hosting for your documents, as well as exporting to various file extensions, such as PDF, HTML, TXT, MD, etc. To generate your documents, you just:
- Fill in the survey – Simply answer a few questions about your business and some additional questions regarding the document type you generate.
- Manage projects – Generate more documents and assign them to projects. Group and manage for different clients or by type for applications, social media accounts, or websites.
- Become fully compliant – Your projects are ready for download or integration. Export in various formats, or add links to your compliance portal to be fully protected with up-to-date documents.
Termshub also is also a one-stop shop for all your contract needs with an online library of dozens of legally-binding templates and documents from employment agreements to service agreements. Save thousands of dollars on legal fees with Termshub.
Disclosure: Martech Zone is an affiliate of Termshub and we are using our affiliate links throughout this article.