Are you using the proper Website Disclaimers, Privacy Policies, and Terms of use documents on ALL your websites? How about Affiliation Affidavits, Purchase Agreements, Children’s Privacy, Monetary Disclosures, Earnings and Forward Looking Statement Disclaimers…

Make no mistake about it my friend, Big Brother IS Watching you! And if you publish any websites, you had better make sure they are compliant with the FTC’s rules and regulations!

You may think that since you are a small business, you’ll be able to slip under their radar and not get caught, and therefore don’t need to worry about it. And you may be right. But that way of thinking is a huge gamble, and one that can cost you dearly if you’re wrong.

The FTC is a much smaller organization than most people think, being comprised of just over a thousand employees altogether. So while it is true that they therefore do not have the manpower to sufficiently monitor all the sites on the net personally, it does not mean that they will not find you.

Since they are so shorthanded in a World Wide Web of billions of sites, they rely almost completely on customer complaints. So no matter how big or how small your business is, if someone ever complains about your service, you will be investigated. And if you are not compliant when they come calling, you will be fined, or worse. You could be shut down completely with all your assets frozen, and in extreme cases, even go to prison!

So you have to ask yourself, have you ever had a disgruntled customer? Do you think you ever will?

If your answer is no, you are fooling yourself into a false sense of security. Customers are fickle at best, and any one of them might get upset and complain at any time over the smallest and stupidest things you can imagine. And it only takes one complaint to get you scrutinized by the Feds!

Another fact that you may not realize, is that it doesn’t matter where you live in this world, you are still most probably subject to those same rules and regulations, because around 2003, the FTC entered into an international Cross Border Fraud agreement with most of the major countries of the world, who in turn agreed to enforce the US FTC Rules and Regulations, world wide!

The thinking behind this international agreement was that if you are doing business on the web, you are most likely doing it in the US as well. No matter where you live. And since the US FTC guidelines are the most complete and comprehensive in the world, the other countries of this consortium agreed to enforce the same rules in their own countries. So if you are found to be noncompliant, you can be prosecuted by your own government for not complying.

The World Wide Web has become the most powerful medium in human history. It can be, and is used to do unbelievable good in this world. But it can also be manipulated to do irreparable harm by the crooks and scamsters out there, so it is necessary to protect the public by forcing publishing guides on all website owners.

You are required to post a Terms of Use document on all your sites, explaining your intentions of the use of your site, and laying out what you are, and more importantly, are not responsible for, should your visitors misuse the information provided on your site. Your Terms of Use (or Terms of Service) document is mostly there to protect you from possible litigation in the form of domestic law suits, but is also there for the public to be advised of what your intentions for the use of your site is, as well.

But a second document that is required by law, is there for the protection of the public. And that document is a Privacy Policy.

Privacy policies are required for all sites to let your visitors know how you intend to use any information that you may gather from them, i.e. their name, email address, or any other information you might get from their having filled out a form on your site.

But make no mistake, just because you do not directly ask for any personal information, does not exempt you from posting a privacy policy.

Just by having a web site online, your ISP is gathering information for you through the stats they provide. Such things as the IP of your visitors, where they live, what their surfing habits are, what operating system they use, what keywords they typed into search engines to find you, how they got to your site, where they went when they left, and many other statistics that can be used (or even sold) for marketing purposes. And the FTC requires that you tell your visitors if or how you intend to use any of the information that is gathered from their visit.

Privacy policies are very important, and you could be fined, or worse, for not posting them prominently on ALL your sites. Whether you intend to use, or even look at the information about your visitors, is immaterial. You still need to post one to explain your intentions!

There are also a number of other legal documents that you may need to post on your sites, depending on what you site is about, and what purpose it serves.

For instance, if you are promoting other people’s products on your site, you are now required to prominently post an affiliation affidavit explaining your connection to the owner of the products you are promoting, along with any compensation you might have received, or might receive, from the promotion or critique of the products on your site.

If you post testimonials on your sites for the products you are promoting, you are now required to post the average results a consumer can expect to achieve by using the products. You can no longer just post phenomenal results obtained by someone, regardless of the truth of those statements.

And there are many other types of legal documents, that although not required, are smart to include in your legal arsenal.

For instance, if you are selling a product of your own, it’s a good idea to post Sales agreement to protect yourself against any kind of future litigation that might come from the sale or misuse of your product.

Likewise, if you are entering into an agreement to partner with someone for anything, you would be wise to lay it all out in a partnership agreement, with a non-disclosure non-compete clause.

If you operate an affiliate program, you should have your affiliates sign off on an Affiliate Agreement that lays out the terms of their affiliation with you and your company.

And ALL of your agreements should be accompanied by an Electronic Signature, which can easily be accomplished by the use of a simple JavaScript.

In the legal world, the old adage of “an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is doubly true!

Protect yourself, your business, and your family’s future up front. It will be FAR more affordable than the consequences!

Len Thurmond is the owner and co-creator of AutoWebLaw Pro, a comprehensive Legal Document Software for Websites and online businesses.



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Len Thurmond has been marketing on the Internet since 1995, and is one of the best known authors and newsletter publishers in the Internet World Today.

Through his highly acclaimed Newsletter, his many Seminar and Tele-seminars speaking engagements, and his coaching programs, he has helped thousands of now successful Entrepreneurs find their niche, and make it profitable.

To read more of Len’s Marketing Articles visit his blog at http://LenThurmond.com

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