Stay on the Right Side of the UK Law
Stay on the Right Side of the UK Law
If building a website in the UK, there are some legal requirements that you must be aware of......... but none of these present too much of a challenge.
The descriptions below will provide you with the basics.
As with much of what the government does, they have penalised 99% of honest business people and entrepreneurs to address the illegal or unethical actions of the 1%. Eighty percent of the laws are common sense and good business practise, the other 20% are a waste of time and effort, but have to be adhered to.
The legislation that you should be aware of includes:
- Libel laws – You are responsible for what is written on your website. If you, or any of your contributors, make libellous, insulting or unfair remarks about an individual or company, you can be sued. It is no different from any other medium.
- Data Protection Act 1998 – Every UK business that keeps personal records about their clients has to be registered for data protection. You should also read up on the ever-changing rules about keeping the personal information of overseas customers. Registration costs about £35. Visit this site for more details. For more information, visit the Information Commissioner website (www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk).
- Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 – Outlines what information must be displayed on a website and what rights people paying for products and services from that website have. If you take money via your website, you must:
- Tell people exactly how much you are taking from their credit card (including tax, postage and packing, etc.) and when you are taking it. Don’t take any money from them unless you have made it clear that you are.
- If you’re taking money monthly for a subscription, you are allowed to email them once at the beginning of the subscription to say you will take the money every month until they write to you to cease payments.
- For annual subscriptions, you must write to say the renewal date is coming up.
- You must put a telephone number on the website that customers can ring and an address that they can write to.
- You must clearly state guarantees, returns, refund and privacy policies.
- Customers (except in a few exceptions, such as food and underwear) have a statutory seven-day cooling off period during which time they can cancel and are entitled to a full refund.
- For more information, visit the DTI’ website at http://www.dti.gov.uk/ccp/topics1/guide/distsell.htm.
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (updated in 2003) – Outlines the legal obligations that website owners have in providing information access for disabled users. Basically, the Act says that everyone should have equal ability to access information and services on a website. The trouble is, it does not say how this should be achieved.
- Sites should be compatible with talking web browsers for the visually impaired. They should also have scalable text that enables it to be enlarged for easier reading.
- Images should have alt tags that can be read by voice browsers.
- For more information, visit Direct Government at http://www.direct.gov.uk/DisabledPeople/fs/en.
- Privacy and Electronic Communications 2003 Directive – This is anti-spam legislation that outlaws the use of unsolicited email and text messaging.
- You can’t send a marketing email or text to anyone unless they have given you their permission to do so (“opt-in”).
- The exception is if the customer already use your product or service. You can then send them information that is relevant to that product (“soft opt-in”).
- You must make clear who is sending the email and provide an address where they can contact you.
- You must always provide the customer with a means of opting out of receiving any further emails.
- For more information, visit the Information Commissioner website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.