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Website compliance – are you ticking the boxes?

Is your website compliant?

Did you know that there are a number of UK laws and regulations that apply to websites if you are a registered company? To be compliant with these rules you must ensure that you meet all the requirements. To give you a helping hand Oxygen’s Digital Director, Malcolm Buttel, has pulled together a quick checklist of things for you to look for.

Although there is no official authority for ensuring that websites are compliant with current laws and regulations, it is essential that you meet these requirements so that you are not in breach of the law.

Website compliance can change depending on what your website is used for and who it is run by, but the following is common for standard businesses using their website as an information hub.

Include your company details

You are required to include the basic details of your business somewhere on your website. There is nowhere that states where exactly on your website it should appear, but most include it in the ‘contact us’ or ‘about us’ pages, or on the website footer.

The details to include are:

  • Company name
  • Registered number
  • Registered address
  • Registered location (i.e. England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland)
  • Trading address

If you are a limited company, you must reference this too.

State your Privacy Policy

If you collect people’s personal data, even if it’s just their email address, you must have a Privacy Policy on your website. To pass the legal requirements this should state who you are, what you are going to use their information for and who you will share it with – if anyone. You could put further information in if you feel it would reassure the user, for example you could state how you store the information and what you do to ensure it is secured.

This then leads us on to…

Complying with the Data Protection Act

Obtaining and storing people’s personal data must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. You must offer people the chance to positively opt-in to having their data stored, and make it clear what they are signing up for if they do hand out their details.

It is worth noting that this may change when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force next year. Although the official policies haven’t been released yet, the proposed changes focus on having a clear consent process when it comes to processing personal data, and tougher penalties for those who breach the policies.

Of course, all of this is only relevant if you collect any personal data via your website, i.e. if you have a newsletter sign up or a contact form.

Warn people about cookies

You may have heard about cookies on websites. They are small pieces of data that contain information on the movements of web users. It can track what you click on, how you came to visit the site and can access the rest of your browser information.

Those adverts for your favourite pair of shoes that randomly pop up on another site? Cookies. It can tell that you looked at those shoes on another website, and uses that information to target the online advertising you see on another page.

Since the EU Cookie Law was adopted, websites must now warn people that they are using cookies and how they are using them, i.e. to enhance your experience of the website. You must also offer people the opportunity to switch them off if they wish.

E-commerce, charity and schools

Different laws and regulations apply to website that are run by a charity or school, as well as e-commerce website where people buy goods or services. The GOV.UK website has most of the information you need for these types of websites specifically.

We hope you found that useful, but if you are in any doubt please contact a legal professional.

Sophie Edwards: