eCommerce legal gotchas - Have you experienced one?

The other day I came across a California regulation which apparently requires eCommerce sites to present a legally compliant privacy policy in order to do business with Californians.

I got to thinking, maybe there are more of these obscure regulations I should find out about before starting eCommerce.

If you know about, or have experienced, some un-obvious regulations affecting eCommerce merchants in the US, please share. :slight_smile:


Alex: Are you talking about the United States specifically or just the UK/International? This will be a US-only site.

In addition to what Jaffe has said there’s also benefits to having a terms of use and copyright statement (to notify individuals of their rights of service expectations), and there’s accessibility legislation which requires you to legally ensure your website is usable by less abled people (the digital equivalent of wheelchair ramps to stores). There are a number of laws which govern how websites should be provided and for good reason (to avoid things which may hurt the consumer or owners of intellectual property), it’s worth taking the time to investigate such issues. E-commerce sites are most noteworthy for attention as they provide public services. :slight_smile:

I’m talking worldwide here, the USA alike Europe, Canada, Australia and the UK (and many other places) have legislation explicitly referencing to accessibility within the web - for the USA it would be the ADA (American Disabilities Act) - which would apply to your site as it’s a public service for e-commerce solutions. As for a terms of use and copyright agreement, it’s a matter of lessening liability and increasing awareness (along with intellectual property) which is relevant wherever you are. :slight_smile:

I guess it was just obscure to me (:

I’m just entering the eCommerce game for the first time.

Thanks for the tips. This will be a good starting point for making sure I stay compliant.

The California privacy policy regulation is far from obscure, it is the driving force behind why all sites need a privacy policy.

In addition you should be concerned with the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which is why most sites won’t allow people under 13 to use their site.

HIPPA regulations are a concern for medical sites and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is a concern for financial sites.

The Can-Spam Act of 2003 concerns those who use email to generate business.

The FTC has regulations that concern web sites with testimonials or endorsements as well as spam, telephone sales, MLM, free offers, work from home offers, negative offers and truth in advertising rules.

This is just the short list of laws and regulations that effect Internet commerce. These laws are not obscure, and need to be followed by all those who wish to stay clear of legal troubles.