Internet legal compliance is important for anyone who owns a website or provides internet services of any description.
Legal compliance for web site owners
It is amazing how many businesses who understand the importance of protecting themselves in their normal course of business simply neglect to protect themselves from claims and damages caused from people using their website. If you have no terms and conditions or privacy statement on your web site then the chances are that you are breaking the law. If someone suffers as a result, you could be liable to pay unlimited compensation. If you sell goods or services from your website, then the consequences of not having the proper documentation on your site could be severe.
Essential Terms and Conditions
Terms and conditions are important to protect your interests, even if you have no further interactions with your customers, such as online trading, data collection or allowing publication of notices. Terms are similar to those you may use in your normal course of business but must be specifically written for the internet. Your terms and conditions should include the following points:
- Acceptance of use of the information on your web site
- Changes and content
- Links to other web sites
- Copyright protection
- Disclaimers and limitation of liability
At the very least, your terms and conditions should be accessible from any page on the website. If you are particularly concerned about the use of your site, you might even wish to make acceptance a condition of entry. If you sell from your website you should also include your sales agreement within your terms.
If you collect data or information about the users of your website, you should publish an easily accessible statement on your website about the way you collect and use data about them. Your privacy statement should include the following points:
- The information you collect
- How you handle the information
- How you secure the information
- Credit card approval
Don’t forget that you must also register with the Data Protection authorities if you have not already done so.
If you sell goods and services from your web site then you will need a sales agreement specifically written for e-commerce. Your sales agreement should include the following points and be part of your purchasing procedures:
- Conditions of acceptance of order
- Order process
- Price and terms of payment
- Rights of the seller
- Age of consent
- Cancellation, returns and refunds
- Limitation of liability
Most people combine their terms and sales agreement for convenience.
The above are the minimum you should have on your website for a basic level of internet legal compliance. Other agreements you should consider having include:
If you link to other sites or exchange links then you should have a linking agreement on your site. Amongst other things, this will indemnify you against any claims made by someone using the links on site.
Web Site Design Agreement
If you contract someone to build and/or maintain your web site for you, then it is important to have a clear and detailed web site design agreement in place so that the design agency or designer knows what is expected of them. By providing clear development milestones you can keep your project on track and on budget. This agreement should also provide for you to evaluate your project before signing-off on it thus ensuring that you receive what you have paid for. It is also important to establish who owns copyright in what.