Why the Terms of Service are so important, and why they are needed
The main point of the user agreement is to coordinate the interaction process between the parties and settle possible disputes between the site owner and a user.
The problem today is that most users do not read the user agreement (the only exceptions are cases when the deal concerns financial, criminal, or personal liability – in this case, users are already more attentive). This fact was confirmed by the British public Wi-Fi provider Purple experiment: about 22 thousand customers agreed to do community work in exchange for free Wi-Fi, and only one person noticed the corresponding item.
Despite this, the user agreement is an important document that can protect both the user and the company’s business, legal, and financial interests. The list of detailed rules for using the site and a list of user actions helps to avoid misunderstandings arising from the incorrect use of users of the Internet resource and allows you to protect their rights.
One of the many examples where the user agreement helped the company avoid liability is an unpleasant incident related to the online service for buying air tickets Anywayanyday. The woman sued the resource for the unlawful actions of the air carrier. The company owners were able to prove in court that they were not guilty. Still, the user agreement stated that the service acts exclusively as an intermediary between the airline and the buyer, so the service is not responsible for the parties’ actions. If the service did not have such an agreement, it would be easier to prove its guilt.
- Avoid user abuse while visiting the site. Resource owners can simply block access to users for violators of the rules if the relevant information is reflected in the user agreement. In this case, the user will not have any rights and will not restore his access to the resource even through a court of law.
- Limit the legal liability of the resource owners. In this case, it is essential to prescribe in the user agreement, in which case the owner is not responsible for possible risks or losses of customers.
- Protect the content published on the site. In the user agreement, you can prescribe how users can use the materials published on the site. Also, the document can indicate that there is a ban on using any information without the direct consent of the resource owners.
According to many experts in user rights protection, there are projects for which it is mandatory to draw up rules for using the site. These projects include:
- projects that provide services to users or sell goods. At the same time, they can directly sell goods to customers, or they can act as intermediaries (for example, ticket sales services).
- projects that have content that is prohibited for children and minors.
- projects that collect the personal data of users.
Suppose the owner of the resource does not have this document. In that case, he may be held liable for violating user rights, illegal collection, and storage of personal data of users. Recall that much in this matter depends on the jurisdiction, but most often, the consumer’s interaction with the project should be transparent and understandable.
For example, the user by his actions (direct use of a specific resource) automatically agrees with all the conditions. It assumes that he is already familiar with all the rules.
However, to fully comply with the law and confirm the user’s acceptance of the terms of the agreement, it is important to implement the concept of “click-wrap” technically. It means that until the resource user has not scrolled through the rules in the web page window to the end, he will not be able to accept the rules and check the corresponding box. In each specific case, you can also provide an additional electronic signature of the document.
As already mentioned, each company can independently establish the rules for drawing up a document, but several points are best included in the paper:
- Acceptance of terms. Here it is worth specifying a list of general rules for using the Internet resource, indicating from what moment this agreement comes into force and inserting links to related documents.
- Terms. It is essential to explain the terms that are used in the agreement (for example, client, site user, and others).
- Product. This paragraph most often contains a description of information, services, or goods offered to users on the Internet resource.
- Contact Information. This section usually indicates the company’s name that acts as a party to the agreement. It is crucial to indicate different contact options so that, if necessary, you can quickly contact the resource owners.
- The procedure for registering and closing an account. At this point, the client needs to explain what the resource owners are making to him. For example, this can be certain age restrictions, the provision of personal information about the user, a data use policy, grounds for restricting access to the site, etc.
- Rules of User Conduct. This item is one of the most important, as it protects the owner’s rights of the resource. Here you need to explain what use of the resource and the information contained on it is permissible and unacceptable on users.
- Terms of Service or Support. This paragraph includes a list of measures that the site is ready or not ready to provide for its users.
- Rights to the content of the resource. It contains information about the conditions for protecting intellectual property, the procedure for using your own, and user-generated content.
- Responsibility of the parties. This section of the document describes how to determine the responsibility of the resource and the user.
- Applicable legislation. It is also important to indicate on the territory of which country this document is valid since many resources are used by citizens of different countries of the world, on whose territory other laws apply.
Also, additional information may be indicated, which is vital for the resource owners. It usually depends on the specifics of the product. For example, here, you can specify the terms and conditions of payment, delivery, and return of goods, as well as the procedure for resolving disputes when they arise. In addition, you can also indicate almost any information that does not contradict the legislation.