Whether you’re running a strictly online venture or you’ve added social media and a web presence to your real-world business, there are some legal requirements for websites that you might not know. While a lot of the tutorials and “User-Friendly” applications make it sound like the whole business of running a business online can be accomplished by anyone, you probably already know there’s a bit more to it than that. From the requirements of general websites to e-commerce and HIPAA; make sure you are covered.
Legal Requirements for Websites
Like most things in the legal realm, the wording of the actual statutes is lengthy, often confusing, and not the most exciting read. So, we’re going to give you an overview of a few important points to keep your website on the right side of the law.
The legal requirements for web accessibility are of utmost importance. Litigation continues to steadily grow in early 2021. General trends show an increase in lawsuits filed in federal courts and state courts. While state court data is unreliable due to reporting constraints, all signs indicate a surge in state court filings in recent years, namely in California and New York. if your website does not work with disability enabling technology you could be sued for millions.
If you use any type of email marketing, you can be fined up to $16,000.00 for violations of your email advertising campaigns under the canned spam act. If an email is not sent as a direct effect of user interaction such as password reset but is unsolicited such as a newsletter. You must have a unsubscribe option and a physical address, not P.O. Box listed or you could be fined thousands PER EMAIL!
Protecting and securing collected data is a whole other legal sector beyond data privacy. In all 50 states in the US, there is state legislation requiring that a business notify customers of any security breach that may involve customers’ personal information.
In the GDPR and CCPA, there are also reporting requirements and penalties for companies that expose consumer data to security breaches. Similar to the privacy laws, the term personal data can refer to a broad range of consumer information from email addresses and phone numbers to more confidential items.
Keep in mind, even if you aren’t processing payments and collecting what you may deem as confidential information, you can still be liable for security issues on your site and in your business processes.
Under Florida law, if you do not have a return policy posted (or a no return policy) failure of a retail sales establishment to exhibit a “no refund” policy shall mean that a refund or exchange policy exists, and upon request and proof of purchase, a refund on the merchandise, within 7 days of the date of purchase, provided the merchandise is unused and in the original carton if one was furnished.
Also, remember that all gift cards (e-gift cards sold in Florida can never expire and must be honored.) You can be fined or jailed for failure.
Sales tax laws now vary from state to state but in general, you must now pay sales tax for all online sales of taxable goods.
legal requirements for HIPAA
The legal requirements for a healthcare provider’s website can be high. You must maintain HIPAA compliance, which includes protecting any sensitive patient health information. Most commonly applies to contact form and booking systems, which may be vulnerable to data breaches in the event of a site hack.
Laws vary by state, but many require contractors of all kinds to provide proof of licensing on their websites (usually by license ID). Failure to include this information can result in fines.