Websites must comply with data privacy laws, and if they do not and get caught, the penalties may put them out of business!
So how do you ensure that your business website is always compliant?
In this article, we cover what you need to know about website privacy laws and compliance.
Why Business Websites Have to Be Compliant
When you own a business website, it is one that represents your brand and all that your business does. Knowing this, it is always essential that you strive to present an excellent image to the public at all times.
There are a ton of legalities that surround the use of the internet and web space, and it might be quite foolish to claim to be ignorant of these laws if you own a business website.
As a business owner, you not only think about your business, but you must also consider how your store affects your customers and potential clients.
Sometimes, you would find that even if these laws are not binding in your location, they may be binding on the people who visit and make use of your website. They also help to protect your business in case of data breaches or privacy complaints by the government or your website users.
The laws govern diverse activities on your website, including an advertisement, shopping, delivery services, communication with customers, collection of information, and lots more.
The Laws Explained
Data privacy laws are laws that have been put in place to direct and regulate the collection of information on websites, how website owners share information. What power do users have over their data once they have shared it. With the rules, sites must come clean and say in clear terms how they intend to make use of visitors’ information.
Various countries have privacy and information laws that are applicable to their citizens and the commercial sector. Some of these privacy laws include:
- International privacy laws e.g. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- State Privacy Laws
- US Data Privacy Laws
You can find out more about these privacy laws to understand how they affect your business.
Who Needs To Follow The Laws
Data privacy laws are binding on private businesses as well as government agencies that own business websites and engage in the collection of user data for different purposes.
Website operators must familiarise themselves with these laws so that you and your business can always be on the right side of the law. To this end, you would find below how to make sure your business website is in line with the appropriate rules and regulations.
How to Ensure Your Business Website is Compliant
First, you must let your users know the type of information that you collect while they are on the site. Next, talk about the reason why your website needs that information and how you intend to access it and keep it secure. Lastly, be sure to enunciate information about third parties or affiliate marketing carried out on the site.
For clarity, you must first understand what Cookies are. HTTP Cookies are small pieces of data that your website sends and stores on visitor’s computers or mobile devices through their web browser while they access and browse through your site. Mostly, cookies are useful for websites in remembering and recording helpful information about the visitor’s browsing activity on the site.
3. Ensure Adequate Security for Online Transaction
Secure your website with robust encryption protocols to make it safe for online transactions
Many websites have their users engage in some form of purchase or online transaction on the site. If this relates to your business website, you must stay informed about the rules governing these transactions and include adequate security measures for transactions on the site.
For example, confidential information such as payment card details can be shared on your website. In cases where there is a data breach, it may significantly affect small-scale businesses if affected individuals press charges.
To avoid issues like these, make use of updated and reliable security protocols on your website to encrypt payment channels. A reliable method of encrypting the data being parsed is HTTPS. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) provides 3 major layers of protection for your website regardless of the content on the site. They include Encryption, Data Integration, and Authentication.
If your website currently exists on HTTP you might want to consider migrating to HTTPS. You can learn more about this to assure your customers about the safety of their transactions.
4. Ensure That Your Website is Accessible to All Individuals
Everyone has their own differences and peculiarities, not only in the real world but also digitally. What applies to one may not cater to or be suitable for the other. It is for this reason that it is important to make allowances for individuals with special needs in society.
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has created specific policies that make physical businesses accommodate people living with disabilities. It has now extended its arm to the digital scape and compels websites to create a website that is also accessible to such persons.
With the ADA, there are no defined rules that state how website operators should go about this and so it is, therefore, vital to be cautious in making sure that your website covers all the basics.
WCAG and POUR Acronyms
Many businesses and organizations have adopted WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). With these guidelines, you can optimize your website in the following way.
Using best practices is achieved through proper web design and it will help your website be more accessible to individuals with vision or hearing impairments, or living with cognitive, language, or learning disabilities.
5. Choose GDPR compliant Analytical Tools
It is not uncommon to find many websites that use third-party tools on their sites for tracking, advertising, or analytics.
Analytics are vital for understanding how visitors behave on your site and also help to track bits of other useful information. In all of this, you must remember the GDPR as you share data with these third-party sites.
A better and more secure way to share data with these sites is to use a tool or plugin that automatically connects analytical tools like Google Analytics to your website. All you need to do is choose a plugin that is GDPR compliant so that user data remains anonymous before it is stored, shared, and processed.
With all the rules and regulations surrounding privacy, your business mustn’t be found on the wrong side of the law.
Not only does it save you from unnecessary fines and legal embarrassments; but it also allows your website users to feel more confident about using your website. Knowing that their data is adequately protected and that they have a bit of control over their shared information might be all the push they need to do business with you.
Also, do not forget to seek legal help if you are not clear about certain aspects of the privacy laws that apply to you.
Keen to read more? Try this article on the next step in keeping data safe with use of digital currencies like crypto.