How many ‘illegal’ websites are there out there?

Posted: Tuesday, 23 August 2011 @ 18:54
How many ‘illegal’ websites are there out there?

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More than you might think and yours might be one of them!

Now I’ve got your attention, let me explain. Every website should have a set of policies, designed to protect you and also the visitors to your site. If you sell products or services via your website, the requirement is even greater; not only do you need a Terms of Use and Privacy Policy but you also need detailed Terms and Conditions which need to cover such things as delivery arrangements, the refund process and policy as well as provide protection by limiting your liability. There’s more for online retailers in our article How to sell on the internet in safety.

But even simple information websites like this one need a set of policies to protect the user BUT perhaps more importantly from a commercial point of view to protect your business.

A terms of use policy is becoming increasingly important as more and more websites incorporate things like blogs and forums and allow people to comment on content and previous postings. It’s always sensible to screen such contributions in any event to remove any offensive, inaccurate or libellous remarks but a well-drafted terms of use policy can cover your liability for any links to other websites and the overall accuracy of content.

Your website privacy policy became increasingly important back in May 2011 when the new rules on the use of cookies came into force. New rules (the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011) mean that you now need consent from the user to store a cookie on their computer. There’s a bit of a stay of execution on actually policing that new rule but doing nothing isn’t an option, as I explained in an earlier blog (Time to comply with new rules on the use of cookies).

At the very least your privacy policy should explain what information about users you collect via your site and how and for what purpose this is stored. So, for example, if people can subscribe to a newsletter, provide their email address to download a document or if they provide you with their name and address so that you can dispatch the product they have purchased you MUST explain how you comply with the Data Protection Act in storing and using their data.

And there’s one final area where some website owners fall down and that is they choose to ‘borrow’ policies from someone else’s website. Not only is this against the law – it breaches copyright rules – but it’s also unlikely to afford you the protection your business needs as there’s really no such thing as ‘standard’ terms and conditions as every business and website is different.

Our advice? If you’re investing in a website don’t scrimp on making sure it’s legal!

Sue Mann
Commercial Solicitor Birmingham

Blog by Sue Mann
Sue is an experienced commercial solicitor based in Birmingham from where she helps businesses all over the country advising on, drafting, and reviewing business contracts and commercial agreements. View profile
Call Sue on +44 (0)121 246 4437 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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Thank you. Your response is great, very straight to the point! Hopefully this will bring an end to the matter. I will certainly be recommending your services as I am very impressed with the prompt dealing of this matter.
Janet Burbidge

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