Site Policies, Notices, and Best Practices

Policies & Notices

State of California websites should contain certain site policies and notices.

Accessibility Policy

Websites must provide accessibility information, including policies and help. The link to this information belongs at the top or bottom of each page. Each agency should create a page that is tailored to fit their needs. Examples:

Conditions of Use

Websites must provide a link to Conditions of Use. The link to this information belongs at the bottom of each page. Each agency should create their own Conditions of Use page. Examples:

Privacy Policy

Each agency should post their own Privacy Policy on their website. The privacy policy should explain what is being collected and the purpose for collecting the information. Every department should have a different policy depending upon what they do with the information they collect. The recommended name for that link is “Privacy Policy.” The recommended location for that link is at the bottom of every web page. Examples:

Best Practices

State agencies should follow these best practices on their websites.

These actions may not be appropriate

Consult with your legal counsel before:

  • Displaying the name, logo, product, or service of a non-government entity in exchange for money, services, or other special consideration, including reduced cost for a product or service. For example, “Powered by Company X” or “Web design by Company X.”
  • Linking to external sites that provide a particular commercial product or service. Ensure that all links to non-government websites further the agency’s mission and comply with your agency’s linking policy.

These examples may be OK

Consult with your legal counsel before:

  • Providing information about an organization or individual if your agency has a formal partnership with the organization or individual.
  • Linking to all commercial partners without giving preferential treatment to one partner over another (for example, linking to all HUD-approved FHA lenders).
  • Posting a disclaimer when linking to websites of private individuals, firms, or corporations or including a general disclaimer in your linking policy. For example: “This link does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. government or the U.S. Department of X.”
  • Mentioning and linking to free reader software like Adobe or MS Word Readers, since those links are required under Section 508 accessibility requirements. We recommend that these be text links—not the logo of the software.

Advertising

  • Per GSA policy, a .gov domain may not be used to advertise for private individuals, firms, or corporations, or imply in any manner that the government endorses or favors any specific commercial product, commodity, or service.
  • Consult your agency’s legal staff to determine what might be considered “advertising,” before you act.
  • Carefully consider the implications of advertising before you do it. Advertising for private individuals, firms, or corporations can imply that the government endorses or favors a specific commercial product, commodity, or service. Citizens expect their government to be impartial. Businesses and for-profit entities expect to be treated fairly by the government. Endorsing some commercial products and services, while excluding others, constitutes preferential treatment.
  • Some agencies have been given specific authority to advertise on their websites. Check with your legal counsel to make sure your agency has specific authority to use your website for advertising before posting anything that might be construed as advertising.
  • Be sure to review your links routinely to make sure they still work, that they still go where you think they’re going, and that they adhere to the practices your agency is using regarding advertising.

Linking

  • Linking to non-governmental websites that contain information and/or services can add real value to your website, but you need to manage them effectively.
  • Linking to a non-government site does not constitute an endorsement of the content, viewpoint, accuracy, opinions, policies, products, services, or accessibility of the site.
  • A state agency that provides links to a non-government website should publish a disclaimer that specifically disclaims liability and responsibility for third-party website content.
  • State agencies should (at a minimum) include their link policy and any disclaimers in their Conditions of Use page. The Conditions of Use page must be customized for each agency. For example:
  • Include a disclaimer statement on the web page that contains the third-party link. for example:
    • These links are provided as a general information source for the use of visitors to the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) Website. The BBS has not formally evaluated the information provided via these sites and inclusion of these links does not constitute endorsement of any organization. The links provided are maintained by their respective organizations and they are solely responsible for their content. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
  • Consult your agency’s legal staff before you act.

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