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Staying within the law - Part One

22nd March 2010
By Dave Rich in Internet Law
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By its very mature, the Internet has created a multi-jurisdictional business environment - and myriad ways to fall foul of the law.
As a society we are becoming increasingly litigious. And the legal issues affecting online businesses in particular are both diverse and far-reaching - ranging from disability discrimination to data protection, libel to defamation and a whole lot more besides.

Your designer is unlikely to have the necessary expertise to advise on the legalities of your website. So you have to take all necessary steps to ensure you remain within the law.
Rules and regs

· The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
The compliance risks are particularly acute where the business allows users or other third parties to publish content on its website.

· Trade mark infringement/domain name arbitration
· Defamation (libel and slander)
· Breach of confidence, privacy or data protection law
· Breach of contract

The message is clear: if you're in the remotest doubt, contact a professional adviser.

Whilst it's not possible to discuss the legal minutiae here , we would suggest that you pay particular attention to The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, which are concerned primarily about the highly topical (highly charged) issue of data protection.
The regulations are designed to ensure users are happy for website owner to, for instance, track their web activities using cookies, offer them location-specific services, add them to subscriber directories or send them promotional emails.

In particular, that policy should specify:

· The data owner's contact details.· The uses to which the personal data will be put and the choices the user has regarding the use of personal data.
· · The nature of the personal data collected.
There should also be links to unsubscribe facilities in relation to the use of such techniques.
· The ways in which data are protected.· How to unsubscribe from the mailing list.
To learn more about creating a detailed, effective web brief - download The SMART Start Guide to Website Planning now at

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About the Author
Steve Calder ( is a copywriter, consultant and interim manager specialising in digital and direct marketing communications. His clients originate primarily in the technology, transportation, travel and leisure, financial and professional services sectors.
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