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Should a multi-language website have different privacy policy and terms of use content for the languages it implements?

Or is it just perfectly legal to have a mot-a-mot translation of the base articles which regard and compatible with the laws of the country/region in which the website owner company resides?

For the sake of the beauty of bringing examples: When a website owned and served in Europe is decided to support Chinese language, is it necessary to hire a Chinese lawyer and re-write policy and the terms on the grounds of Chinese laws or just handshaking with a translator is enough?

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Should a multi-language website have different privacy policy and terms of use content for the languages it implements?

No, absolutely never. Even if you opt to have translated versions of your terms of use available, every single version of your terms needs to include all of the same content. You cannot guarantee a French user will read the French language version. If there are any country-specific exceptions or changes to your terms that need to be integrated, it needs to be included everywhere.

When a website owned and served in Europe is decided to support Chinese language, is it necessary to hire a Chinese lawyer and re-write policy and the terms on the grounds of Chinese laws or just handshaking with a translator is enough?

As a general rule, you should. There are plenty of laws out there that apply to anyone doing business with you in their country regardless of where you are located. Not only would an attorney in another country be able to tell you if there are other things that need to be mentioned in your terms that are specific to that country, but they're also the most reliable source for translating the terms if you opt to go that route. A specialized attorney will probably have a trained paralegal or clerk that is familiar with the intricate details of translating legal documents - it is not something you should entrust to an ordinary translator.

Translating terms can be very tricky. Any subtle mismatches between each language can cause immense headaches for you down the road. As mentioned earlier, you cannot guarantee which language a person will be reading the terms in, and tiny mistakes can give users the option of doing something you really don't want them to do. They can easily just point at the terms in such-and-such language and you're just out of luck.

Some companies go so far as providing subtext to clarify the jurisdiction and which language is the "official" terms of use document. All others are provided simply for convenience and are not binding. But even if you go that route, you should still consider hiring a professional for the translation so that you are not confusing users who cannot read your primary language and otherwise would not learn about the real terms of use. Providing a translated version "for their convenience" that is too different from the binding terms could just as easily get you into trouble.

It's akin to posting an English sign that reads "No Smoking Allowed" and a French sign that translates as "Smoking Discouraged" - those don't mean the same things and you can't blame a user for interpreting the French sign you provided that was supposed to say the same thing.

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International contracts are tricky

(Which is not to say that intra-national ones aren't tricky)

Let's say you are based in the United States and put in your terms of service that it will be governed by the laws of Washington - like this. While choice of law is generally upheld as valid in most jurisdictions, there are some local laws that cannot be excluded - like Australian Consumer Law. Because your ToS say mislead Australian consumers as to their rights you end up in a 5 year legal battle that ends with you owing AUD 3 million in fines plus who knows how much in costs.

A contract that is valid in one jurisdiction may be invalid in another - if you intend to work cross-jurisdictionally you need to engage lawyers in each jurisdiction to write ToS and policies that comply with that jurisdiction's requirements.

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It totally depends on the countries (versus languages) of your target audience.

A Chinese version of a website domiciled in the UK does not necessarily target visitors living in China. Absent any other clues, it targets visitors who prefer to use Chinese language. These can potentially be anywhere: for those in the UK you will need to have mere translation from English; for those in China you will need to hire Chinese lawyers to write it from scratch. For those in the US you will need to translate from your English version written for the US by US lawyers.

That said, segregation by language and segregation by target country are different things. If you want to offer your goods/services in country A you need to make it explicitly clear e.g. "Visitors from A click here" and not just "For A's language version, click here".

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It would really depend on what is in the terms of service, but as long as there is nothing country specific you want to add you should be fine with a translator.

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    This is a vast over-simplification of the issue at hand. Terms of use are legal contracts that deserve the utmost respect and diligence in crafting, and tiny mismatches in a poorly translated version can cause a lot of headaches. That aside, country-specific exceptions and changes should be included in all versions of the terms of use, not in only one language. – animuson Jun 13 at 18:12
  • @animuson I'm not saying you shouldn't write it well. He asked about translation. – Putvi Jun 13 at 18:17
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    And I'm saying that they need to hire a professional, probably a lawyer, to do that translation, or it could lead to mistakes that an ordinary translator simply would not understand. There's a difference between well-written and correctly written. Your answer makes it seem like he could just hire some random person that knows Mandarin well to translate it, which would be a huge mistake. – animuson Jun 13 at 18:20
  • @animuson contracts in general get translated by non lawyers on a daily basis. That's not to say there aren't some instances involving specific things that need a lawyer, but not in every case for common things. – Putvi Jun 13 at 18:40

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