When you have a website, there are certain rules and regulations that you need to follow if you want to ensure your website is legally compliant and mitigate the risk of any legal issues. From copyright to duties towards avoiding plagiarism, there are some basic website legal requirements one should know before making the website go live.
Editor’s note – we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. When in doubt, talk to a real lawyer.
Tip #0: Familiarize yourself with the GDPR
Several of the topics that we’ll cover will help you address various aspects of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you haven’t heard of this regulation that was launched in early 2018, though, you need to familiarize yourself with it if you have any connection to the European Union.
This regulation is huge, so we cannot cover it all in this post. But to help you learn more, here are some of the in-depth guides we’ve written on the subject.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the tips!
1. Make sure you can legally use all content (like images)
Depending on what you are going to publish on your website, you might have to apply for specific licenses to use that content. This is quite important when it comes to preventing plagiarism, recognizing others’ talent, and appreciating their work.
For example, for some images, you must request permission before using them (though you can also find free stock photo sites). Even if you get the license, you must keep in mind that you aren’t the only one with it and you might not be able to use that image however you want.
Before you can obtain the license, you may even have to sign an agreement. In such a scenario, make sure you are reading the print cautiously and know how you can use the image and what are the terms to use it.
3. Include a Terms & Conditions page, too
Undeniably, Terms & Conditions page seems to be the unhappiest page on the entire website, however, it holds importance as well. Although it might not be a necessity by the law in some countries, to be on the safe side, you must add it to your website.
This page turns out to be beneficial when it comes to limiting your responsibility in case a customer has dragged you to the court. In such a situation, having a Terms & Conditions page on the website also secures your right to the content that you have published on your website.
If you’re not sure what to include, you can use TermsFeed to help you generate a Terms & Conditions page.
4. Maintain a strict security policy to avoid negligence
Any sort of lapse in your site’s security can increase the chances of damages done to your whole company. These days, security cracks are becoming quite common.
In July 2018, there were more than 145 million leaked records because of cyber-attacks. Shocking, isn’t it? Apparently, in a year, the damage done to the information technology because of a security breach is more than $1.5 trillion.
Since the security breach types vary depending on your domain and niche market, you must cautiously create such plans for security that match the requirements of your website and strengthen its vulnerabilities. Create a strict security policy, as well as a plan for what happens if there is a breach. It will give your visitors confidence that their information is safe with you.
For WordPress users, a security plugin can provide a good baseline level of security.
5. Include any relevant disclaimers to keep users informed
Sometimes, problems occur because websites knowingly compel someone to be certain about something that may end up causing them an extreme loss.
If your website is causing them damage, then you, as the owner, can be held responsible for the entire situation. Therefore, you should put disclaimers on the website in case there are omissions or errors, or you are using any third-party’s links.
6. Pay attention to rules about transactions (e.g. an eCommerce store)
If your website includes online transactions, you need to pay special attention to security and regulations.
A recent report published in Trustwave states that approximately 90% of data breaches impact small-scale merchants. So if your website deals in an online transaction, it’s essential to consider the security of your customers’ data.
Make sure that you encrypt all the data passing between your site and your visitors’ computers with HTTPS. Also, make sure that you are only using a reliable payment gateway to prevent unnecessary problems in the future.
Also, look into terminology like PCI compliance.
If you want to stay on the good side of the Electronic & Privacy Communications Regulation, you need to inform users if you use any type of tracking cookie (which is most sites).
If you fail to notify your users about this activity, you may have to pay a large amount as a fine payment.
8. Maintain consistent information across your site
To maintain consistency, make sure to post the same information on your website as you’ve posted on other platforms. This information includes your registered address, email ID, contact number, etc.
Not only does this ensure that visitors know exactly who they’re dealing with, but it also helps you build trust with them.
9. Make your site accessible to all users
If you want to make your website accessible to all visitors, you’ll need to put some special attention into following good web accessibility practices. Although many sites ignore accessibility, this legal requirement is quite a necessity if your intention is to treat everyone equally and stay on the good side of regulation like the ADA.
10. Avoid intentionally (or unintentionally) taking others’ content
If you want your website to thrive, you need to regularly share new content.
While you may think of publishing content written by others as a way to do this, know that it might generate several issues for you in the future. What if the content isn’t original and you are taking it from another site that has copied it from another?
Although it might be difficult to prevent taking up content from other sites altogether, avoid it as much as you can. You can hire creative and professional content writers who can either generate authentic content or rewrite the existing content to make it unique.
If you have any questions on how to make sure your site stays on the light side of the force, ask away in the comments.