Is Your Site Breaking the Law? Essential Compliance Issues for eCommerce

April 9, 2024

Selling goods through an eCommerce site brings a host of legal compliance issues. Here are some of the most important – covering what you sell, how you sell, and how you keep critical data secure.

Payment Security

Online payments must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). In many cases this is achieved by using a third party payment provider. But the responsibility for compliance is shared – you can’t ‘offload and forget.’

In case you missed it, PCI DSS v4.0 came fully into force from March 2024. All eCommerce sites must be compliant with this latest version of the standard.

Customer Data

A data breach affecting customer’s personally identifiable data is one problem you definitely don’t need. GDPR compliance, covering how you collect, share and use customer data is non-negotiable and you need a clearly worded privacy statement on your site.

Think beyond this and apply the highest standards of data security, enforced through a robust policy and staff training. A serious breach could spell disaster.

Intellectual Property

All the words and pictures on the internet belong to somebody. If you use them without permission you may well get sued for breach of copyright. This is a major pain and could get expensive (if only in legal fees).

The best way to avoid the risk is to create your own assets. If you can’t do this, always make sure you have documented permission. If you use freelancers (for example, for copywriting or photography), always be clear about who owns the copyright for what they create.

Consumer Protection

The products you sell have to comply with relevant consumer safety standards. They must be described accurately and customers must be able to return them easily and get a refund if they’re faulty.

If a customer relies on an inaccurate statement made by you – perhaps in a product description – before buying something from your site, you could fall foul of the Misrepresentation Act 1967.

If the court decides you did this deliberately or negligently you could be faced with a legal bill for damages. It also won’t help your reputation.

Terms and Conditions

When you sell something over the internet you are entering into a contract. As with any contract the terms and conditions must be unambiguous and readily available.

For more insights into building a prosperous eCommerce business, download this handy guide or contact GSL Media on 01752 395600

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