Is Your Web Presence Legally Compliant?

Updated: April 08, 2010

With that said, you need to understand that your website will continue to face more and more legal liability as time goes on. It is a very good idea to give your website a legal examination and to make sure that it is updated properly now.

There are several things that you can check on to make sure that your website is compliant from a legal perspective:

  • Copyright notice: If you use content that is owned by someone other than you, you must have a copyright symbol after the content, the year of publication, the copyright owner's name and "All rights reserved worldwide." It is very important to give the proper attribution to the copyright owner.
  • Blogs: If your website has a blog, there is a potential for other people to post content on your website that is an infringement of the copyrighted materials (for example, text, video links, graphic images). Under copyright law, you would be responsible for the infringement even if you were not aware of the copyright situation with the content that others have posted on your website. Your liability might be serious.
  • Security of data: Technology and security practices are constantly evolving. You, as a business owner, are responsible for maintaining appropriate and reasonable data securitymeasures, as dictated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You need to be sure to that your security has been updated recently and continues to be updated on a regular basis.
  • The collection, use and sharing of personal information: The way in which you market your business determines the types of personal information that you collect, how you make use of it and the way in which you share it. It is very important to make sure that your Privacy Policy reflects your actual practices with regard to personal information. Make sure that you review your Privacy Policy as necessary and revise it to reflect the evolution in your business that occurs.
  • Service providers: If your external service providers (Web hosting service, search engine optimization, website developer, etc) have access to the internals of your website server and your databases that archive personal information, they need to be covered by a confidentiality agreement.
  • FTC guidelines: Because the FTC was concerned over false advertising on the Internet, it released new guidelines that explain how existing laws on endorsements and testimonials used in online advertising will be interpreted.

If you have other resellers, affiliates or bloggers promote your offerings, you are considered an advertiser according to the FTC guidelines.

On the other hand, if you are asked to become a reseller, affiliate or blogger for other websites, you are considered an endorser according to the FTC guidelines.

In simple terms, according to the FTC, advertisers are expected to provide training and guidance to endorsers regarding the guidelines and liability. Endorsers are expected to disclose their relationships with the advertisers.

If you are about to have a website developed or you are developing it yourself, you need to make sure that it includes the following:

  • FTC guides disclosure policy
  • Legal page
  • Terms of use
  • Privacy policy
  • Service provider privacy-security agreement
  • Customer agreement

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