Changing Your Website Policies

James Chiodo, Certified Information Privacy Professional CIPP/US

It happens every day on the Internet. A company makes a change to their privacy policy or terms and conditions agreement and continues on assuming this change will affect all its past customers.

Well, it doesn’t quite work that way. Essentially these types of agreements and policies are contracts with your users and customers. If you want these changes to become effective for past users and customers, you will need to get their consent first. That means contacting them by email or through some type of mail delivery service.

And putting a provision like this in your policies will not work either:

We reserve the right to change the terms of our privacy policy or terms of conditions at any time, but will not do so without posting the revised policy on this website. We encourage you to review these polices when you visit our website.

It’s a convenient idea, but the law does not work that way.

The courts have held that parties to a contract have no obligation to check a website’s policy on a periodic basis to learn whether they have been changed by the other side.

Why? Because like any other contract, you cannot unilaterally change the terms of the contract without the other party’s consent.


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