How to Know if Your Website Legally Compliant?

Angela GreenspanBusiness Law, Business ManagementLeave a Comment

It is essential for business owners to know the legal requirements for your website. Because your website is a channel to communicate with the general public, there are many legal requirements. It is important to know if your website is legally compliant and ensure you maintain compliance to avoid potential legal action against your company. Below are some of the top compliance requirements for businesses with websites who serve customers in the Untied States. 

Cookie Content Notices

Your website needs to have a cookie policy and consent notice. You have to give the user the opportunity to opt-in or out of the use of cookies. 

Your website Cookies Policy can be in a pop-up window, header, or footer and must state the following: 

  1. Disclose your site stores cookies
  2. Briefly describe why your site uses cookies
  3. Disclose how the information collected from the use of cookies is managed through a link to your privacy policy
  4. Disclose what users agree to
  5. Allow users the option to opt-in or opt-out of cookies

Privacy Policies

A privacy policy is generally required if your website is using cookies. Even if a privacy policy is not required by law, some third party services such as Google require websites that use their services to have a privacy policy. 

A privacy policy is a statement that informs users of your website how it collects, handles, and processes users’ data. It must state if the data is kept confidential if shared or sold to third parties, how the data is stored, and what measures you take to protect that data. You should link your privacy policy in the footer, on the about page, the main menu, on your account registration, or checkout page.

HTTPS for Ecommerce

If you have an eCommerce site, it is essential to use HTTPS (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure.) HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP, the system used to send information between the user’s web browser and your company’s website. An eCommerce website not using HTTPS could expose the credit card information of anyone attempting to place an order on a website, potentially exposing the customer to identify theft, which could lead to a lawsuit against your company.

Terms & Conditions

A terms and conditions page is not required by law. However, it can protect you in the event of a lawsuit against your company. The terms and conditions set forth the rules for use of your site. The rules will vary depending on your business and type of website have but can include the following:

  1. Disclaimer limiting liability in the case of errors. This clause will include language providing that the website owner is not responsible for content on the site that is accurate, complete, or suitable for any purpose. 
  2. Copyright. All websites should include a notice of copyright and trademark, if applicable. For example, © 2015 – 2021 | SCHOOLOFBOOKKEEPING.COM LLC
  3. Privacy Policy. Your terms and conditions page may include your privacy policy.
  4. Establish laws governing disputes. You can establish what state your website is operating from and the state’s laws that govern should there be a dispute.

Disclaimers

A disclaimer is a statement that tries to limit your liability for any damage caused by something you do, say or product you sell. Disclaimers are an excellent idea to include on your website to limit your liability for content you share and any products you offer on your website. 

A disclaimer is intended to protect you if you are sued. Disclaimers can be part of your terms and conditions. It should expressly disclaim any type of legal liability the site owner might experience by the use of their site. Accordingly, disclaimers will vary according to the type of website your company has.

Disclaimers can be used to:

  1. Provide that users must have permission to use your website content
  2. Disclaim responsibility for actions users take based on the website content
  3. Provide that the website owners opinions are solely their own
  4. Provide that the website content is only for informational purposes, not professional advice
  5. Disclaim liability for third party content on your website

ADA Compliance

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a law in the Untied States that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It requires that websites be accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. This means content on your website must be accessible to all, including those with visual or hearing impairments. Web accessibility lawsuits against business owners that fail to accommodate people with disabilities are increasing at an alarming rate. Websites that do not provide users with disabilities with the opportunity to receive the same experience as other viewers put the disabled at a disadvantage by ignoring their needs and excluding them.

ADA requires reasonable accommodations for employers with 15 or more employees. However, businesses that serve the public are required tor comply with ADA rules regardless of how many employees they have. These businesses are considered public accommodations. The federal law offers a non-exhaustive list of public accommodations which includes: hotels, restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, hardware stores, retail stores, banks, laundromats and dry cleaners, accountants and lawyers’ offices, health care provider offices, public transportation, recreation venues, schools, social service centers, and gyms. Accessibility does not have to be costly. Accessible technologies ensure that computer software is accessible through screen reader software to assist with website compliance.

There are other requirements if you live outside the Untied States or you collect data from customers in the European Union. To get started, you should research any regulations that your company faces in your industry to determine the legal requirements you must follow. If you are not sure what the requirements are for your website, you may want to contact an attorney. If your company receives a demand letter, you will need a remediation plan. Do not engage in any discussion with the attorney that sends the demand letter. You should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your company’s legal requirements. Then you can hire a technical expert who can assist in taking action to make your website accessible. To protect yourself from expensive litigation and better serve your customer base, it makes sense to invest in making sure your website is legally compliant.

 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is not legal advice, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is or will be formed by use of the site. The information contained herein is intended as legal information only and of a general nature. All areas of the law are fact-specific. You should consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction about your particular situation and circumstances.

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