Heal Your Church WebSite


Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Privacy Statements and Terms of Use

Around the time I was or just finished reading an article in The Register entitled US military medical records stolen in burglary I received the following email Peter over at the Bellaire United Methodist Church (and also possibly… The Gutless Pacifist?):

Dean,

I was scrounging around your HYCW site and was looking to see if you had helpful hints for electronic use policies for churches. You know the — don’t surf here, don’t use the church’s site for financial gain.. etc.

Do you have any suggestions for resources?

Grace & Peace
Peter

I love letters like that. First, I love the whole Biblical salutation thing. One of my favorite times in church is when a missionary gets up to speak and portends greetings from somewhere on the other side of the globe. Something about it thrills me every time, sometimes to the point of tears. Yeah, I like Paul’s Epistles for the same reason. But I digress …

Now keep in mind, I am no lawyer. So when one asks me about privacy and policy statements, the best I can offer is my minimal, untrained understanding, and links to professionals who actually do know what the heck they’re talking about. In other words, I’ll get you started, but I’m in no way, shape or form the definitive source on issues legal.

Privacy
Here’s the bottom line. People are reluctant to give you private information because they’re afraid your going to sell it to the highest bidder and get them spammed into oblivion while they’re trying to fend off an incessant stream of telephone telemarketers. So if you do collect any information on your users, you are morally, and in some locations, legally obliged to tell them what information is being collected and to what end. Moreover, if you are going to use this information for marketing purposed, you need to give the user the option to decided what you do with their identifying information. Remember, as Christians, we’re expected to live by a higher standard. Playing games with people’s privacy is a sure way to get them to leave and never come back.

Now not being a lawyer, I went about and did a search on the topic. As you might expect, alot of legalese. But I did find one or two sites that either provide an explanation of your obligations and/or provide forms and/or templates for generating your own privacy statement. Here you go, in no particular order:

Terms of Use & Disclaimers
Okay, now remember, I’m NOT a lawyer. Moreover, most of what I’ve studied applies to issues within the U.S. and my local municipality. From what I understand from what I’ve read about of Terms of Use Statements and Disclaimers, we’re talking about private law here … which means any enforcement or defense is going to involve a lawyer’s time and your money. So while I can offer some generic links to sample and/or model “Terms of Use” and “Disclaimer” documents, I’m going to insist you run them by your church’s attorney before publishing them. It seems to me that would be alot less expensive to drop a few bucks up front than deal with the expense of litigation. That said, here are some links you might find useful:

Oh, one other note. I think by now I’ve made it clear that I’m not a lawyer. That nothing offered here should be construed as legal advice. Please refer to my Copyright & Disclaimer statement for any further clarifications.

3 Comments

  1. Dear Dean:

    Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The saints in Rolla, Missouri, greet you with a holy cyber kiss.

    How’s that for a salutation, in the biblical sense?

    Andrew

  2. interested to be a member

  3. Time of the prophet draws near.
    Rejoice in the birth of the antichrist
    The end of days will bring us all salvation