Website Regulations and Compliance: Five Things All Business Owners Need to Know
Posted on 2nd November 2020
We live in a digital world - and with more than half the global population actively using the internet - it is increasingly important for businesses to have an online presence.
The heart of that presence should be a well-designed, easily-navigated website; search engine optimised and containing the most up-to-date information about your business.
This will ensure that your customers can find you online and be able to purchase your products or services with ease.
Once those customers have visited your website, you want to ensure that you can continue contact once they leave. You can achieve this by collecting customer information via contact forms, mailing list sign-ups and gated content.
The ability to collect data from your customers is a valuable tool for your business. However, you must abide by the rules and regulations regarding how you obtain, store and use the information.
Whether you’re designing a website from scratch, refreshing your current site, adding an ecommerce function or booking form, you must ensure that you understand the rules. Failure to comply can have serious consequences.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the five things that every business owner with a website needs to know about:
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is law; covered in the UK under the Data Protection Act 2018. In simple terms, GDPR regulations stipulate that you must:
Have a legal justification for storing and using customer information.
Store data securely.
Use it only for the agreed purpose.
Remove personal records from your business completely, if requested.
Businesses of all sizes must comply with GDPR, and the fines for non-compliance are severe.
Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the GDPR and Data Protection Act. They offer specific guidance for businesses wanting to contact customers through electronic communication, including telephone calls, emails and text messages.
Some elements of PECR overlap with GDPR. You can find full details of PECR and how your business may be affected on the government legislation website.
However, the main considerations for your business are compliant data collection, cookie consent and safe data storage - you must always ask permission and let customers know exactly how their data will be used.
At it’seeze, we make it easier for customers to comply with PECR by including cookie notifications as standard with every website we build. We also offer encrypted connections to email servers for all clients who have email accounts with us.
Any business with a website should familiarise themselves with the basics of copyright law. The rules surrounding copyright work in two ways.
Protecting the content on your website.
Dictating what you can and cannot use on your site.
The law recognises that your website is a valuable business asset, and that any original content contained within is your intellectual property.
Copyright protection prevents people from copying, distributing, selling, renting, or adapting your work without permission. There is no need to register for this protection; it is protected as soon as it has been created.
Having said that, it doesn’t hurt to include a visible copyright symbol (©) on your site where necessary. This will serve as a friendly reminder to visitors that original content, such as photographs and videos, should not be used without consent.
Another way in which copyright law affects your business website is in how it limits your usage of other’s intellectual property. This is particularly important for those of you who want to add content to your site that is not of your own creation - stock photography for example.
It’s important that you make sure you have secured the correct permissions and use the content for the purpose that it was licensed for.
At it’seeze we protect our own clients by ensuring that all website designs are unique to the company or individual that it is created for. If we need to use stock photography, we always make sure that it’s properly licensed.
Trademarks also protect intellectual property, but work in a slightly different way. If you have created unique branding for your product or service and want to prevent anyone else from copying it, you can apply for a trademark.
This can be a name, symbol, logo, slogan, colour scheme, or anything else that sets your business apart from others. Registering a trademark gives you exclusive rights to use the property for 10 years.
Trademarks can either be registered (®) or unregistered (™). You can learn more about the differences between ‘®’ and ‘™’ trademarks on this blog post.
5. DIsplaying the right information
If you run a limited company then you are required to include the following information on all documents, publicity and letters - this includes your website (usually in the website footer).
Registered company number
Registered office address
Registration location (either England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Ireland).
The fact that it is a ‘limited (Ltd) company’.
Business websites should also include details of the usual place of business, details of any trade associations, information of any relevant supervisory authority (e.g. Financial Services Authority) and VAT number. Charities must also display their registered charity address and charity number.
Additional information is required If your business website has an ecommerce element.
If you are selling goods or services online, you need to follow the Distance Selling Regulations - a set of rules that apply to any type of distance selling, including mail order or phone - along with extra rules that apply only to selling online.
Abiding by the Distance Selling Regulations ensures that you have an effective contract in place with your customer, protecting both them and you.
There are also specific rules for those selling downloads or streaming services, as well as VAT and reporting rules for businesses selling to the EU.
Help is at hand
Getting to grips with the ins and outs of these regulations can be time consuming and confusing. That’s why it can pay to work with a website partner who can offer one-to-one advice when you’re getting set up, and a reliable support team for anything that comes after.
If you’d like to find out more about the services we offer at it'seeze then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Please note: this blog post is intended to provide guidance only. It is not legal advice. We would always advise that you consult a solicitor to find out exactly what information is required by law for your business or charity.
At it'seeze Website Design, you're never alone. If you want help updating your website, let's arrange a website review. We can make content suggestions, provide training, and help make sure that your website never gets stagnant.
Just contact us to get the ball rolling.
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