July 11, 2012
In the case or privacy policies, the answer is Yes.
In the US, there’s the law of California that obliges sites gathering personal data from people who reside in California to have privacy policies, so it’s mandatory for anybody since there are no realistic means to enable you exclude California residents. It now applies for UE-based companies to have privacy policies, as well.
However, there is no such legislation for terms of service, so it is not mandatory.
Why should you have a ToS – are there benefits? There are and it all depends on how you want to be perceived by your users. It’s a deep matter of trust, as well.
Not having a ToS would be a sign of underestimating and neglecting the importance of online trust and client – business owner relationship, grounded entirely and especially on confidence.
Your ToS speaks publicly about what you do, what your principles, views are, speaks about your philosophy, in other words, it breaks down the wall of anonymity and the state of insecurity generated by the virtual ecosystem.
You want to show your users that even though you won’t physically approach them, you are there and yes, you are willing to show them who you are and what you do in certain situations. And to highlight it even more, all these things should be displayed in a legal form, so this is what the ToS stands for: transparency, honesty, trust.
You gather information about users and in exchange, you offer them information about you and your business. Think of it as a mutual, fair deal, where parties are equal and are willing to unveil themselves to the other party. It may be a matter of ethics, but it’s wise to avoid neglecting it. Your interests and covering them best is extremely important, but always remember to treat your users just the same as you want them to behave while on your website – seeing is believing, giving is receiving.