The relationship between your company and customers is governed by various legal agreements, such as Terms and Conditions (T&Cs), Privacy Policies, the European Union (EU)’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), Cookie Policies, Codes of Conduct, Community Guidelines, and Acceptable or Fair Usage Policies. All users and customers have to accept your legal agreements in order to make purchases, register for personal accounts, or to subscribe to newsletters.
The process of agreeing to the various legal contracts is usually done by the user checking a series of boxes to verify that the terms and conditions have been read and accepted. All of your legal agreements should be available on your website and at the end of any correspondence so that users can refer back to any contracts that they have signed digitally, if necessary.
Businesses update their legal agreements for a variety of reasons– from simply making them more understandable, streamlined, or descriptive; through informing users about new functionalities; to adhering to new laws such as GDPR. Any changes to the legal agreements, regardless of the reason, may have a significant impact on the users and their rights.
If a user has agreed to any of your terms and conditions, it is imperative that they are informed about any changes before they come into effect. This allows users to accept the new agreements, close their accounts, or opt-out of receiving new content.
Notifications about policy updates have to be sent in advance. You need to give your users enough time to respond and/or read the modifications to your legal agreements before they go into effect, so it is advisable to send an email at least 1 week before the changes are made. You may want to include a summary of changes in the email to help speed up the process of obtaining new acceptances.
Users should be notified about any changes to legal agreements, big or small, but some examples of such modifications are as follows:
Users must be notified about any changes, and email is one of the most common methods of doing this. If you don’t send an update notice about upcoming changes to your legal policies then you have technically only made a “browsewrap” agreement (links to the documents are available on your website, but users may not be aware of them), which makes it arguable for a user to have not agreed to any new terms they didn’t know about. If instead, you do send an update notification email and/or make a “clickwrap” agreement by forcing users to agree to your new conditions with the familiar checking of a box, then the changes to your legal contracts will be enforceable.
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