Legal Compliance For Your Online Business

Legal Compliance For Your Online Business

businessperson typing about legal requirements for their website

The proliferation of technology has seen many companies, both startups and developed, take their business online.  While it may be easy to set up an e-commerce platform/website, there are legal requirements that you should observe to remain compliant and in line with internet and data privacy laws.

 Here we highlight a few requirements you should have in mind while starting a website to be on the right side of the law.    

Privacy policies

A privacy policy is essential when setting up a website as it defines how you are going to use the data you collect from people who visit your site. More importantly, it helps to build a level of trust with your consumers. The key components of a privacy policy include; 

  • Privacy notice – Explains the personal data you collect and how you use it.  
  • Cookie disclosure – Explains how you use cookies.
  • Disclaimer – Mentions liabilities for using your website.

If you collect and use your audience’s data, you should have a privacy policy. Failure to include it can subject your business to legal liability. 

General Data Protection Regulation

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European data privacy law that focuses on how websites access and use specific data of people located in the EU. The provisions of GDPR do not require you to be based in Europe and it would apply as long as your website is accessible to, and collects data about, people in the EU.

The “purpose” of the GDPR is to prevent abuse and illegal use of private data. Therefore, if you target users in Europe, it is recommendable to be familiar with the provisions thereof to be on the safe side of the law. 

Terms & Conditions

E-commerce agreements encompass, among other things, terms & conditions (“Ts & Cs”) of doing business. These agreements work to inform customers how your company operates while attempting to preventing unnecessary disputes. Typically, Ts & Cs cover issues such as pricing, liability, orders, delivery, payment, data privacy, warranties, and more. E-commerce Ts & Cs can go a long way in protecting your business and keeping it in line with legal requirements. 

You should bring your Ts & Cs to customers’ attention before making a transaction. Basically, you should use them when: (i) selling from your website, (ii) selling goods to specification, and (iii) the products require statutory cancellation rights.     

Intellectual Property

Certain online content is protected by various intellectual property laws, including, copyright and trademark. That means using such content without a license or permission can lead to legal complications. Your website should use properly sourced/licensed images and an established notice of the condition of content reproduction.

Certain uses of copyrighted content/data on your website may fall within the fair use doctrine. However, you should consult with an IP attorney before making a fair use analysis. Some of fair use factors include the nature and character of the use and the amount of the work being used.

To avoid being caught up in copyright issues from people using and/or posting on your website, familiarize yourself with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its safe harbor laws. This way, you know when to reproduce information and when to refrain. 

PCI compliance 

This is a regulation that covers businesses that accept card payments. It provides that if you intend to use card payments, store, process, and transmit the user data, it should securely host the data to prevent compromise. Therefore, when starting a website for your online business, consider the legal provisions that address the payment methods, or address how your third-party payment processor does the same.     

Web content accessibility guidelines 

This law concerns itself with how accessible your website is to people with disabilities. Disabilities in this case range from visual to physical, auditory, neurological, and cognitive. In the US, these regulations exist within the guidelines of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). When creating a website, make sure to adhere to the guidelines of web content accessibility. 

In Sum

Before starting and/or rolling out your website, it is imperative to understand the rules and regulations covering online platforms.  Brown & Blaier, PC provides legal solutions for e-commerce businesses of all sizes. Please contact us to learn more about how our business attorneys can help your e-commerce company today!  

Adam Blaier, Esq.


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