September 8, 2019

Top 5 Key Website Legal Requirements To Ensure you Comply with the Law

There is a lot of legal requirements to make sure you comply with in order to obey the law. Here you will find the legal requirements for the US along with other countries.

It is almost natural that when you intend to launch a website, your focus is on development and design, as well as how best to generate leads and make conversions. The legal jargon is the last thing you want to put your attention or even money on.

However, recent developments in e-commerce point to a scenario where the legal aspects of your website are equally as important as generating leads or making conversions. Therefore, in this article, the focus is on outlining a checklist of five key website legal requirements for your new business website.

Below is the non-comprehensive list of requirements to consider for a website to operate legally. 

1. Cookie Consent Notice

The EU law requires websites to ask for consent of their users before dropping any cookies on their devices. This is usually done by a cookie consent notice on the websites. A cookie consent notice is a banner, pop-up, box on the website that presents the users of the website the cookie policy of the website and allows them to accept, deny or customize the use of cookies by that website. 

The cookie consent requirement is specifically required by the EU cookie law (ePrivacy Directive and GDPR), however, it is also used to comply with other data protection laws which require prior consent for the collection of personal data. In order to be in line with the requirements of the EU cookie law, the cookie consent notice must:

  • display accept and reject options provided they are of the same weight, 
  • not drop any cookies (except for essential cookies) before the user opts-in for the use of cookies, 
  • provide a customization option for granular consent for different categories of cookies, and 
  • contain a link to the cookie policy which is written in a clear and understandable fashion without getting into legal jargon.

At Secure Privacy, we have developed a cookie consent management solution which is easy to customize, implement, and manage. We offer you website cookie consent banners to help you comply with laws such as the GDPR, ePrivacy, CCPA, and LGPD. Check out your options to get started with your compliance solution with Secure Privacy here

2. Privacy Policy

A website’s privacy policy is a tool that helps your business to cultivate trust with the people who visit the platform. Essentially, it makes your potential clients aware of the exact kind of personal information you collect from them and what you intend to use it for.

Your website needs a privacy policy for two particular reasons. Firstly, state, and in some cases, regional laws control how you engage with website visitors and require you to provide your users with certain information about your personal data collection and usage practices. This is a part of the transparency obligation set forth within most data protection laws worldwide. For instance, the European Union obliges website owners who gather personal data such as names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers from visitors within the region to include a legal privacy policy on their websites.

Secondly, your platform needs a privacy policy because it plays a vital role in building trust with visitors to your site. Primarily, when you make it clear about the information you gather from visitors and how you intend to use it, clients develop confidence that your webpage is a secure and reliable platform to play, share, and buy.

If you are unable to develop one, Secure Privacy has a solution that generates a privacy policy for your website and ensures that it is compliant with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumers Protection Act (CCPA) & General Data Protection Law (LGPD) laws.

The privacy policy will be automatically generated and customized to your website based on your input. We will ask some questions about your business and will incorporate your responses in your privacy policy.

3. Terms and Conditions

This component serves as the legally binding agreement between your enterprise and the potential client that interacts with it. Typically, it comprises information such as what the service or product is, under which conditions the user buys it, shipping and return policies, disclaimers of any liabilities, as well as copyright safeguards for your website.

The terms and conditions are an essential part of your business since they serve to avoid any misunderstanding about what your business is selling and the terms on which you are selling it. Having specifically written up terms and conditions will ensure there is no unambiguity and your clients will understand what their duties and rights are and act accordingly. This also gives you the ease of mind in that the terms and conditions of your website provide clarity about what should happen in any given situation.

It is vital to have your T&C’s displayed at checkout for clients to affirm that they agree to your set terms. 

4. Website Terms of Use

Distinct from your T&C's that are focused on your transactions, this component outlines the necessary regulations on how your website may be used. Running a website without Terms of Use makes your enterprise vulnerable to liability claims to your content or for any culpability that emerges from its use.

By having Terms of Use you set up rules for visitors using your business’s website. Although there is no legal requirement to have Terms of Use for any website, this is a way to create legal protection. Additionally, Website Terms of Use play a crucial role in protecting your intellectual property, inclusive of your trademarks and the content you upload.

Terms and Conditions and Terms of Use can form one single document, but sometimes it may be more practical to divide it into two docs - one for the use of the website for all visitors, and one for those who buy something from your business.

5. Accessibility

Website accessibility ensures that those with disabilities can have equal access to websites. There are federal as well as regional laws and international standards which set out requirements for accessibility of websites by the disabled.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a US law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The law applies to a) the United States government websites (all state and federal government agencies), b) any business that relies on the general public or for their benefit, c) private companies that have 15 or more employees, and d) non-profit and charity organizations which either have 15 or more employees or which operate for the benefit of the general public. 

The ADA requires that places of public accommodation (including websites in most cases) be accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. This means that your website's content must be accessible to everyone, including people with hearing or visual impairments. By following the requirements of the ADA, you would ensure to be in line with the website legal requirements in the USA in relation to website accessibility. 

The Website Accessibility Directive is an EU initiative which was adopted in 2016 with the aim to ensure that websites and mobile applications are accessible equally by those with disabilities in the EU. The Directive applies to public sector bodies only. The directive was complemented by the European Accessibility Act of 2019 which extends the applicability of accessibility rules to private sector organizations, except for microenterprises (those with less than 10 employees or annual turnover less than 2 million EUR). The requirements of the Act must have been implemented by the Member States by 2025.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are series of guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The guidelines are a set of recommendations in order to make Web content more accessible, especially for people with disabilities. While they are not binding by themselves, they have been referenced in major laws and court cases worldwide. 

Website accessibility is a growing concern. There are at least 3 main reasons why a website owner should consider compliance with website accessibility requirements: 1) to help improve the lives of people with disabilities, 2) growing your audience or consumer base, 3) make sure of not getting sued. 

Closing Statement

You may have already incorporated these components into your website. However, it is vital to review them regularly to make sure that they are precise, up-to-date, and compliant with state or regional laws.

In case you want to understand how best to comply with your legal requirements, and safeguard yourself while doing business online, get in touch and we will be glad to point you in the right direction with our broad array of solutions.