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Your Website and Legal Compliance


17. May 2009 14:44

When you are thinking about what content you want on your new business website one of the last things your mind will probably be a privacy policy, terms and conditions, or a copyright statement.

You may also not realise that the UK data protection act may be applicable to you if you handle personal information through your website, or that your website needs to be built with accessibility in mind.

Privacy Policies

A privacy policy allows you to state how you will respect the privacy of your users, by explaining what information you collect and how you store and use it.

Cookies
A form of data collection which your website may or may not use is the cookie.   Your privacy policy should also mention your website’s use of cookies, and how to refuse them.  Be sure to ask the company that builds your website if cookies are being used, as the use of cookies by websites is covered by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive).

A sample privacy policy can be downloaded from the BusinessLink.gov.uk.

Terms and Conditions

A terms and conditions notice provides visitors with information about the content of your website and what they are permitted and not permitted to use it for.  A sample website usage terms and conditions can be downloaded from the Business Link website.

Copyright Notice

A copyright notice allows you to express how your website content can be used, downloaded or distributed by your visitors.  A sample internet copyright notice can be downloaded from Business Link.  You may also wish to consider licensing your work at Creative Commons, this will allow you to keep your copyright, but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit.

Data Protection Act and your Website

The UK Data Protection Act requires all organisations which handle personal information to comply with a number of important principles regarding privacy and disclosure.

There are eight principles which are designed to ensure that personal information is handled properly.  The Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know what information is held about them.

If you process personal information on your website then you will need to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office.  This currently costs £35 a year and adds your business to the public register of data controllers.

Accessibility

The UK Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) refers to the provision of goods, facilities and services.  The act makes it “unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public.”  The act means that service providers must “take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services.”

Make sure the company that is building your website makes your website accessible, otherwise you could face legal action.