Difference Between Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

Difference Between Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

Misuse of user data and infringement of their privacy seems much common than what we ever imagined. Most of us  were shell shocked to know about Cambridge Analytica Data, its connection with Facebook and how it collected user data for their benefit. In this entire mess, what came out clearly was that user don’t pay attention to Privacy Policy or Terms & Conditions while agreeing to them, which has today become the reason for distress.

No matter what site or app you are using, before finishing up with the initial sign up procedure, you should know what you are signing up for.

Depending on your website or mobile application, Privacy Policy or Terms and Conditions vary.  Some of the companies just have Privacy Policy and they think it would work. However, after the implementation of GDPR, it will no longer work. So, companies need to have both Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions. Each of these two terms are legal and serve different purposes. Individuals often get confused in their usage and purpose.

In this article, we will explain to you the difference between these terms and their importance.

Before we proceed further, you should know that Privacy Policies and Terms of Service aren’t same. There is a thin line difference between them Sadly most of us often confuse one for other.

Now, let’s understand what these terms are:

What is Privacy Policy?

It is a statement or legal document that informs website visitors/ mobile app users about what personal information is collected, stored, shared, how it is collected and what is the use of it.

Also, the companies need to disclose if they are suing a third-party application for personal data collection.

A standard practice each company needs to have.

Privacy Policy need to be crisp, clear and easy to understand i.e. even a layman can understand it. If companies tend to leave out information, be vague or inaccurate serious actions are taken against them.

Any personally identifiable information gathered by a company like name, address, credit card information, order history, browsing habit all needs to be mentioned in Privacy Policy, even if they are collected for non-personal use.

Privacy Policy is some countries are required by law and it should be easily accessible by the user.

To understand things clear let me give an example: If you visit a website and it collects your personal data like email address then they need to mention the same and if user doesn’t agree to it then it can’t store the information. Also, the sites need to mention if they will leave any cookies on the system to collect data. While collecting personal information a company needs to disclose following things:

  • Kind of personal information collected through website/app.
  • Purpose of data collection.
  • How the information will be used by the company or third-party apps?
  • How user can review and make changes to the information?

What is Terms of Service?

Terms of Service also known as Terms and Conditions is the legal agreement that sets rules and guidelines for the user. When a user agrees to Terms of Service, he can use the website/app.

It is an agreement that works as bridge between the website or mobile app and the user.

Common sections of Terms and Conditions include following pointers:

  • Information on copyrights.
  • Account deactivation if user misuse the app or website.
  • Billing and subscription information.
  • Prohibited activities.
  • Other disclaimers.

Unlike Privacy Policy it isn’t required by law, but is highly recommended to have one to stop site from being used illegally.

Without this kind of agreement in place and enforced properly, there’s no way to bind a user and to keep a check on website usage. If Terms and Conditions aren’t in place infringement of content can be done.

Comparison between Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions

Privacy PolicyTerms and Conditions
DescriptionA legal document that provides information about the data being collected and how it will be used.Set of rules and guidelines that one must follow to use the service.
FunctionInform user about their information being collected.Rule and guidelines that should be followed.
PurposeTo reduce company’s and websites liability.To guarantee that user abides to them.
LawMade essential by law in some countries and jurisdiction.Not required by law but still recommended.
Legally bingingMay or may not be legal depending on the context.Can be legally binded.
RecommendationSuggested for all websites and apps.Recommended if website sells products or services.

Both Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions are essential to keep everything managed. Absence of any one can of these lead to data breach. Therefore, before agreeing to them one should properly read them. While checking the Privacy Policy agreement one should see if the agreement is created separately. The site has mentioned whether it abides by CalOPPA and the EU Data Privacy Directive. Plus, it should be an honest agreement and the word “Privacy” should be mentioned in the name of the agreement. While checking Terms and Conditions user need to keep these things in mind: The document can be created along with licensing rights, but there should be a section mentioning how your account can be terminated if found that you are performing any illegal activity.

If you keep yourself updated with all these things you can save yourself from all the distress and trouble.

Preeti is a technical writer with Systweak. She covers new technology and troubleshooting. She loves gadgets and is an avid reader. In her free time, she likes to travel and explore new places solo.

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