Legal Requirements for Websites and Online Businesses
Starting a business these days can mean something other than renting a property, purchasing stock, or setting up a shop front.
More and more entrepreneurs are setting up and running very successful businesses from their homes.
E-commerce is a hallmark of the modern age, and with the rising demand for online shopping, it’s becoming clear that this type of business is the way of the future.
If you want to be where the action is, consider this business model, but be sure to know the legal requirements and website laws in place for your country.
Do I need a Registered Business Number?
Just because your online business doesn’t require a building permit or land zoning doesn’t mean that it is regulation free.
It is important to take time to familiarize yourself with your website’s legal requirements and ensure you comply with the regulations surrounding that business type.
In Australia, for example, one of the most common questions asked by the owners of small or medium-sized businesses is, ‘Does my business website need an ABN (Australian Business Number)?’
While it may not be necessary, strictly speaking, an online business should have an ABN.
Indeed, if you wish to register your own domain space, it is essential. By law, websites that finish with ‘.com.au’ or ‘.net.au’ require an ABN.
Other benefits of a Business Number include:
- Exclusive access to your domain name for the length of your business license. Because your domain space is registered, you have exclusive access to that name, which will become invaluable as your business grows and becomes known among the online community.
- Certain benefits relating to PAYG tax and the ability to register for GST.
- Generally, more straightforward dealings with the ATO and other businesses.
Do I really need a Terms and Conditions page?
We tend to think of the Terms and Conditions page as boring at the end of a website, and nine times out of 10, you don’t even read it!
Boring as it may be, when it comes to your business website, it’s a smart thing to include.
Terms and conditions aren’t a lawful requirement, but it is another way to limit your liability and protect your website content rights.
Think of it as the framework that will hold up your case if you are taken to court because it sets out the terms of the contract between you and your customer.
In 2017, online businesses were popping up all over the world. And they trade in a new and all-important currency: data.
Collecting and analyzing data is critical for online marketing success. However, it is also one of your business’s most legally protected aspects.
- What information are you collecting from your website, visitors
- Who is collecting the information (i.e., your business name and contact details)
- How will you protect and store their information?
- How do you intend to use their information?
- Who has access to the information, and how long is it stored for
- Whether it is optional to provide information
Remember, as the business owner, you are responsible for upholding and maintaining strict control over personal data collection and use, so communicate your commitment to any team members.
Integrity is vital to business success – it pays to do what you say!
Is a Website Disclaimer necessary?
Your website contains information, and yes, you try to keep it as up-to-date as possible,
but how can you guarantee that it is 100% accurate all the time, or be responsible if somebody misinterprets information?
Especially if your site contains links to outside sources over which you have zero control…
This is where a Website Disclaimer becomes essential.
Regardless of the size of your business, you have little control over who views your website or how these viewers will interpret or rely on the information given on your site.
It is, therefore, necessary to limit liability where possible and state your commitment to providing accurate information to the best of your ability and knowledge.
So, where to start?
Plenty of information online and various sites will help you put together the legal side of your website.
If you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself, plenty of professional help is available to assist you too.
It may be advisable to enlist the skill of an attorney or legal professional, especially if transactions will take place via your site.
The last thing you want is a disgruntled customer taking legal action against you, so you must be sure you protect yourself against this from every possible angle.
Your business website is a long-term investment and worth doing it properly the first time.
Taking time to cover these legal aspects of your business could be the difference between success and failure.
So you will not waste your time in that area.
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