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Does the Church Have Exposure for Internet Related/Social Networking Liability?

By September 11, 2019November 17th, 2022

It goes without saying that many churches are engaged in social media simply to maintain their cultural relevance. By utilizing websites, blogs, and social networking avenues, churches are able to connect not only to their members, but now have a reach that far exceeds geographical boundaries. Unfortunately, all of this electronic activity also exposes the church to greater risks.  Here are some of the top risks we’ve identified that could impact your organization.

  1. Invasion of Privacy:
    • Posting of photos online
    • Infringement of right of privacy
  2. Personal Injury Claims:
    • Defamation, libel, slander written on website
  3. Intellectual  Property Claims:
    • Infringement or violation of copyright, trademark, trade name; domain name infringement
  4. Network Security/Data Breach Claims:
    • Churches are also subject to laws regulating data breaches and it is costly to comply with the requirements of notification expenses, credit monitoring, and forensic analysis costs.

One of the keys of reducing risks on the social media side is having a “Gatekeeper” in your organization that has been trained on these key exposures and is mindful of any such risks and can then control the posting or removal of anything questionable.

However, even with the best training and precautionary procedures, cyber crime is exploding and cyber social media liability events still occur from time to time.  For ultimate protection, we recommend a Cyber Liability Policy.  To better understand what a cyber liability policy covers, think of two sides of a coin.

Heads:  This deals with the basic question of “What if we get sued and have to defend ourselves?” in the world of social media, electronic or website environment.  This would include the liability a church incurs because of their negligence in the loss or release of personally identifiable information.

Tails:  These are for the direct expenses a church would incur as a result of a data breach (notifying victims of the breach, providing credit monitoring, hiring a lawyer who specializes in privacy laws and breach response, computer forensic expenses, and more).  Data has value and cyber crooks don’t mind trying to get yours.

The coverage can be an inexpensive as $815 annually whose annual revenue is $500,00 and for a $1 million limit up to around $2,000 for those closer to $5,000,000 in revenue and also a $1 million coverage limit.  It only takes once incident for the policy to pay for itself and these types of claims are generally excluded in your normal church insurance policy.