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What is KnowHow?
Detailed Practice Notes written by our Professional Support Lawyers, guiding you through the key issues in each topic.
Web - overview
Websites allow businesses to reach a far wider target market than by traditional means. A company’s website is vital to its online presence and branding, and is core to its online trading activities.
Businesses operating on the web must comply with a diverse range of legislation. These range from those dealing with e-commerce and mandatory business information, to those dealing with data protection and disabled access eg:
Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
Data Protection Act 1998
Companies Act 2006
Disability Discrimination Act 2005
It is essential that legal compliance as well as risk areas such as the ownership of intellectual property rights in the website and its contents, and commercial trading terms are addressed.
Many of the issues relevant to software development are also relevant to website design, including the concern of 'scope-creep'. A specification setting out the requirements and functionality of the site together with a project plan with milestones will give a framework for the site development.
Of primary concern to customers when commissioning a website are its design, functionality and performance. Equally important, but which may be overlooked in the rush to get the website live, is the need to ensure that the site is legally compliant, particularly regarding:
personal information gathered from the website
company information required to be displayed on its website
disabled assess for the website
Consideration must also be given to who owns the content, text, graphics and design of the site and the underlying software.
The hosting agreement will allow the customer’s website to be stored on a host provider’s publicly accessible server connected to the web. The website is physically located where the server is located. The host will, for a fee agree to host the site and subject to agreed downtime make the site continuously available. There may be a service level agreement (SLA) with an escalation and complaint’s procedure, service continuity and disaster recovery plan and exit management provisions.
Website terms and conditions
Website terms and conditions fall into two categories:
those setting out how a user may assess and post material on the site eg acceptable use policy (AUP) or code of practice
those setting out the commercial terms for ordering goods and services on-line
A privacy statement should be written in a style that is easy to understand by visitors to the site. The privacy statement will cover:
the identity of the person or organisation operating the site
the identity of anyone who collects personal information from the site
information needed to make sure that processing is fair
how personal information collected on the site and whether cookies are used
how personal information is protected and kept secure
Online subscription agreements
A variety of services may be offered online, from a subscription to a financial information service to the provision of software as a service (SaaS) where software is hosted on a site either by the supplier or a third party application service provider (ASP). For the customer there are advantages that the cost of an online service may be cheaper and with SaaS and the customer is relieved of the burden of installing and maintain the software on his own equipment.
The vast majority business communications are now conducted by e-mail. E-mail notices and disclaimers, usually attached as a footer to the e-mail, will set out:
mandatory business details and regulatory information
a confidentiality notice
a disclaimer dealing with possible legal risk areas such as defamation
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