Privacy Policies vs. Terms & Conditions

Last updated on 23 August 2022 by Sara Pegarella (Law school graduate, B.A. in English/Writing. In-house writer at TermsFeed)

Privacy Policies vs. Terms & Conditions

The main difference here is that a Privacy Policy is required by law if you collect or use any personal information from your users, e.g. email addresses, first and last names etc. while a Terms & Conditions agreement sets forth terms, conditions, requirements, and clauses relating to the use of your website or mobile/desktop app, e.g. copyright protection, account terminations in cases of abuses, and so on.

Depending on your website or mobile/desktop app, you'll need either a Privacy Policy agreement and a Terms and Conditions (T&C) agreement, or both.

Each of these two legal agreements serves different purposes for both you (the company operating the website/mobile app) and your users.

This article will break down the differences further so you know which to use and when.


Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions Differences

What's a Privacy Policy

Our Privacy Policy Generator makes it easy to create a Privacy Policy for your business. Just follow these steps:

  1. At Step 1, select the Website option or App option or both.
  2. TermsFeed Privacy Policy Generator: Create Privacy Policy - Step 1

  3. Answer some questions about your website or app.
  4. TermsFeed Privacy Policy Generator: Answer questions about website - Step 2

  5. Answer some questions about your business.
  6. TermsFeed Privacy Policy Generator: Answer questions about business practices  - Step 3

  7. Enter the email address where you'd like the Privacy Policy delivered and click "Generate."

    TermsFeed Privacy Policy Generator: Enter your email address - Step 4

    You'll be able to instantly access and download your new Privacy Policy.

If your website or app (regardless if it's a mobile app or a desktop app) collects and uses any kind of personal information from users, you're required by laws around the world to have the Privacy Policy and make it available to your users, preferably before they start using your website or app.

"Personal information" can include any information that can be used to identify an individual, such as a name, email address, mailing address, birthdate, IP address, etc.

In the United States, for example, California's Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) requires businesses that collect any personal information from users in California to have a Privacy Policy.

And, due to the widely accessible nature of online businesses (like ecommerce stores), CalOPPA in effect means that any websites or apps (especially U.S. businesses) that collect personal information from users must have this legal agreement since limiting a California audience is not feasible.

CalOPPA requires that this agreement is conspicuously posted on the website or through the app, to include the word "Privacy" in the title of the agreement and in the link's text that links to this legal page.

It requires that the following to be disclosed by a business:

  • What personal information is collected through the website/app
  • What's the purpose of collecting this information
  • How the collected information is used by business and/or by any third parties
  • How can user review and make changes to their information

In the EU, the GDPR calls for an increased protection of privacy rights. If you collect any personal information from people in the EU, you must have a GDPR-compliant Privacy Policy. This rings true whether your business is located in the EU or not.

What's a Terms & Conditions Agreement

Our Terms and Conditions Generator makes it easy to create a Terms and Conditions agreement for your business. Just follow these steps:

  1. At Step 1, select the Website option or the App option or both.
  2. TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator: Create Terms and Conditions - Step 1

  3. Answer some questions about your website or app.
  4. TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator: Answer questions about website - Step 2

  5. Answer some questions about your business
  6. TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator: Answer questions about business practices - Step 3

  7. Enter the email address where you'd like the T&C delivered and click "Generate."

    TermsFeed Terms and Conditions Generator: Enter your email address - Step 4

    You'll be able to instantly access and download the Terms & Conditions agreement.

A Terms and Conditions agreement (T&C), also known as a Terms of Service or Terms of Use) agreement, is the legal agreement that sets forth the rules, requirements, and standards of using a website or a mobile/desktop app.

For example, common sections of a T&C include information on copyrights, account deactivation if certain users abuse the website or app, billing and subscriptions (especially for SaaS companies), forbidden activities and uses of the website platform, and various disclaimers.

Here's an example of the table of contents of the Terms and Conditions agreement of RentalCars that shows the wide range of areas this kind of legal agreement can cover:

Table of Contents on RentalCars Terms & Conditions

A Terms and Conditions agreement is not required by law, unlike a Privacy Policy, but it's highly recommended to have one as you can prevent abuses happening to your website or mobile app, and to limit your own liability as the owner of the online business.

Without this kind of agreement in place, and without it being properly enforced, there's no way for you can legally limit or control how anyone can use or can't use your website or app.

Issues of copyright infringement can appear if users make use of your content without your permission or issues of abuses such as someone spamming other users or posting defamatory content on your website.

A Terms & Conditions agreement lets you include language to forbid such activity, and can also provide a remedy (such as accounts deletion) in the event these abuses do occur.

It's highly recommended that online business (regardless if they operate just a simple website or a simple mobile app) that allow or require a user to register for an account have this agreement in place and present it to users at the time of their account registration.

Desktop apps also benefit heavily from having a T&C, besides benefiting from having an EULA.

The Terms and Conditions can be named anything you'd like. Common names for this agreement include a Terms of Use, Terms of Service, or User Agreement. What you call this kind of legal agreement isn't as important as what's actually in the agreement.

eBay calls this kind of agreement a "User Agreement." It includes relevant information regarding using the eBay's website, intellectual property issues, purchasing and listing conditions, disclaimers of warranties and limitations of liability, and a section on enforcement of the policy:

eBay User Agreement Table of Contents

Instagram calls this kind of agreement a "Terms of Use." It includes information on using the service, about copyright violations, the rights of users, limitations of liability for the company, and more.

Twitter calls this kind of legal agreement a "Terms of Service." Sections such as limitations, rights, and licensing information for those who use the service are included, as well as standard restrictions, disclaimers, and account termination sections.

What to Use: A Single Agreement or Separate Ones

If you're going to have both legal agreements - one Privacy Policy agreement and one Terms & Conditions agreement - always keep them separate.

While both agreements can reference each other, and the T&C agreement can have a section relating to privacy (which should link to the Privacy Policy), you should create two separate legal agreements.

Remember that it's also required by CalOPPA and other laws to have the word "Privacy" in the link name.

Keeping these agreements separated makes it easier for users to browse both legal agreements and to understand that there are multiple legal agreements to be aware of.

Here's the list of sections in the Terms and Conditions agreement of Jump Tomorrow:

Jump Tomorrow Terms and Conditions Table of Contents with Confidentiality and Data Protection sections highlighted

You can see how it covers issues that relate to privacy in its Terms and Conditions agreement such as confidentiality and data protection.

And here's how Citizen's Bank has some issues of privacy in its Terms and Conditions as well:

Citizens Bank Terms and Conditions: Table of Contents - Disclosure of Account Information to Third Parties section highlighted

If you were to just include the entire content of your privacy practices in a Terms & Conditions agreement without a separate, clearly labeled Privacy Policy, you won't comply with CalOPPA and other privacy law requirements.

Here's the "Privacy" section within Twitter's Terms of Service. It mentions basic privacy info, as well as a link to Twitter's full and separate Privacy Policy agreement:

Twitter Terms of Service: Privacy clause with Privacy Policy link highlighted

This can be a great way to bring information about your privacy practices into the Terms & Conditions agreement and still maintain a separate agreement that deals with your privacy practices.

Here's what you should keep in mind for Privacy Policy agreements:

  • Create this agreement separately from all other legal agreements. Include information that needs to be disclosed as required by CalOPPA and other privacy laws.
  • Make sure the agreement is an honest and accurate reflection of what personal information you actually collect and how you actually use that data.
  • Include the word "Privacy" in the name of this agreement and in any links you provide that link to this legal page.
  • Make sure this agreement is its own separate agreement, regardless where you display it: in your website's footer section, on one of your mobile app's screens, and so on.

Privacy Policies should document your privacy practices. Update it as soon as anything changes, such as if you begin to collect a different type of personal information from your users, or if you begin to allow third parties to access the information when you didn't in the past.

Here's what you should keep in mind a Terms & Conditions agreement:

  • You can create this agreement to include licensing rights, rules and guidelines for your users.
  • Include a section that allows you to terminate user accounts in the event of abuses, or under any circumstances at your discretion.
  • This agreement is where you can maintain control over your website or app, so make sure to include any limitations and restrictions that you want to be able to enforce.

Summary

In sum, these legal agreements are very different.

A Privacy Policy is legally required, while a Terms and Conditions agreement is not.

A Terms and Conditions agreement spells out how users can interact with your site or service, while a Privacy Policy lets users know how you will interact with their personal information.

Both are very beneficial to have, whether you're striving for legal compliance, or good customer relations and business trustworthiness.

Create Privacy Policy, Terms & Conditions and other legal agreements in a few minutes. Free to use, free to download.

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Screenshot of TermsFeed Generator

Sara Pegarella

Sara Pegarella

Law school graduate, B.A. in English/Writing. In-house writer at TermsFeed

This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.