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Online dating is becoming more popular as more people turn to the internet for their romantic prospects. If you want to start a dating website, you will likely charge a fee for your service as well as for any additional features. You can structure this as you think is appropriate. Indeed, if you promote and advertise your online dating website efficiently, you can have a very successful business model. However, whenever you set up any online service or business, various laws will apply to your operation. Therefore, if you want to operate an efficient and safe dating site, you need to follow up on your compliance with these laws. To assist, this article will go through various things to consider when you start an online dating website.

Safeguards For User Privacy

When you start your online dating website, you will collect personal and sensitive information from your users, which they will likely give you to use your matching service. Under the Privacy Act, any agency that handles personal information needs to do so according to its principles. To clarify, personal information is any information that can identify a living person, which includes:

  • names;
  • email addresses;
  • credit card details;
  • location data; or
  • IP information.

For example, you may collect personal information through personality questionnaires or quizzes for determining potential matches.

Therefore, you need to apply the Privacy Act’s principles across all of your personal data processes, including personal data:

  • collection;
  • use;
  • storage;
  • security;
  • disposal; and
  • disclosure.

Whenever you collect personal information from your users, you need to tell them what you intend to use it for and why. Furthermore, if you need to change this purpose, you will usually need the consent of the person the information is about. Additionally, if you want to share this personal information with other entities, you need to let the relevant individual know. Subsequently, if a user deletes their account with your service, you should delete their corresponding personal information as well.

Furthermore, you will likely be dealing with highly personal and sensitive information from your users, so you will need adequate security measures to protect it. Look into what cybersecurity methods are appropriate, and implement responsible privacy procedures across your website.

Outline exactly how you deal with users’ personal information in a comprehensive privacy policy.

Consumer Law

The Consumer Guarantees Act applies to any business that supplies goods or services to consumers for their personal use. This law may then apply to your business because services can include contracts for the provision of facilities for:

  • amusement;
  • entertainment; or
  • recreation.

Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that when you provide your online matching/dating service, you:

  • carry it out with reasonable skill and care; and
  • make it fit for the purpose the customer wants;
  • carry it out for a reasonable price, where you do not have an established pricing agreement. 

Additionally, if you make any concrete promises about the quality or nature of your service, you should follow through on those promises and back them up with facts.

For example, you may offer an online dating website that finds potential dates based on personality compatibility. If you advertise and promote your service based on this service, you should have an algorithm or data that performs this task that you can rely on to back up your claims.

Limiting Your Liability

When you operate an online dating website, you need to take appropriate steps to protect your business against legal liability. One way is to have comprehensive policies and documents that set out both your business’ and your customers’ rights and obligations. Three of these important documents are your:

  • terms and conditions;
  • website terms of use; and
  • privacy policy.

In these documents, among other things, you set out;

  • how you handle personal information and protect your users’ privacy;
  • what you do and do not accept responsibility for as the website operator;
  • any laws that apply, especially if you operate internationally;
  • liability limitations;
  • prohibited user conduct;
  • payment and billing information;
  • intellectual property protections; and
  • important contractual and sales provisions.

For example, your website terms of use (or a similar document) should contain what kind of conduct you do not allow on your platform and what will result in user banning or account termination.

You may also set out additional policies to inform your users, such as a complaints or comments policy.

Protecting Your Users From Scams

People often take advantage of online dating websites to scam their customers and get them to pay for fraudulent services. If this happens on your dating website, it can reflect poorly on your business, and you can lose your customers. Therefore, implement secure measures to reduce the likelihood of such scams on your site, such as: 

  • appropriate warnings;
  • education resources for users; 
  • effective complaints procedures;
  • a vetting and checking system; and
  • valid identification measures, such as RealMe.

Key Takeaways

Running an online dating site can be a successful endeavour for your business. However, you need to ensure you comply with any relevant laws and provide appropriate security measures to protect your users. If you would like more information or help with the legal aspects of your online dating website, contact LegalVision’s e-Commerce lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is personal information?

Personal information is any information about an identifiable individual. If you can use this data to identify a living person, then it is personal information. Examples include names and email addresses.

Does my dating app or online dating website need a privacy policy?

Your dating app or online dating website will likely collect personal information from your users. Under the Privacy Act, you have to tell people when you collect their personal information, which you can do in a privacy policy.

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