The Law; Website Legal Requirements

Vontainment: Web Design Company in Port Charlotte Serving Southwest Florida If you’re operating an online business or have expanded your brick-and-mortar company to include a web presence and social media, you may be unaware of certain legal requirements for websites. While many tutorials and user-friendly applications suggest that managing an online business is easy, there’s more to it than meets the eye, from general website requirements to e-commerce and HIPAA compliance.

The legal language surrounding website requirements can be lengthy, complex, and dull. We’ll provide a summary of key points to ensure your website complies with the law.

General Requirements

Your website should have a privacy policy, as many state laws mandate it. This policy discloses the data you collect and what specific data you gather. Though not legally required, most third-party systems, social media, and credit card processors need a privacy policy.

Web accessibility is crucial due to the increasing litigation in recent years, particularly in California and New York. Your website must be compatible with disability-enabling technology to avoid potential lawsuits.

Email marketing can lead to fines up to $16,000 per violation under the CAN-SPAM Act. Unsolicited emails, such as newsletters, must have an unsubscribe option and a physical address (not a P.O. Box) to avoid hefty fines.

Data protection and security are essential, as all 50 US states have legislation requiring businesses to notify customers of security breaches involving personal information.

Under GDPR and CCPA, companies that expose consumer data to security breaches face reporting requirements and penalties. Personal data includes various consumer information, from email addresses to more confidential details.

Even if you’re not processing payments or collecting sensitive information, you can still be liable for security issues on your site and in your business processes.

E-Commerce Considerations

When selling online, you must adhere to legal and credit card processor requirements, such as having a privacy policy page, terms of service page, refund/return/replacement policy page, and end-to-end encryption on your site.

Under Florida law, you must post a return policy (or a no-return policy). Failing to do so implies a refund or exchange policy exists, and customers can request refunds within seven days of purchase, provided the merchandise is unused and in the original carton.

Gift cards (including e-gift cards) sold in Florida never expire and must be honored. Non-compliance can lead to fines or imprisonment.

Sales tax laws vary, but generally, you must pay sales tax for all online sales of taxable goods.

Healthcare provider websites must adhere to strict legal requirements, including HIPAA compliance, to protect sensitive patient health information. This mainly applies to contact forms and booking systems, which may be vulnerable to data breaches.

Other Considerations

FTC on Reviews When collecting reviews, remember that Federal Trade Commission laws apply. Offering incentives for reviews is illegal and against the terms of service of providers like Google.

FCC Laws for Blogs If your website includes a blog, you must disclose if you’ve been paid for an article or if it contains affiliate links. Failure to do so violates FCC laws.

Miscellaneous State laws vary, but many require contractors to display licensing information (usually by license ID) on their websites. Non-compliance can result in fines.

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