Originally posted on http://skytechgeek.com/2019/10/protect-and-search-what-are-the-laws-of-the-internet/
The tech industry has seemed to settle down from the heyday of the 2000s. We’ve seen a handful of big players dominate the industry over the last few years, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix.
While these companies have dominated their respected industries, concerns have been raised about privacy and data protection. This is especially true in the wake of high-profile cyberattacks.
Legislators around the world have tried to respond to these rapid threats. The laws of the internet are only piecemeal, which makes it difficult to follow. There are state laws, European laws, a small federal policy and more.
As a small business, it’s your job to stay aware of these laws. It can feel like an impossible task, but if you keep reading, you’ll learn the top internet-related laws that impact your business.
1. AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
The ADA is a law that came into effect in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush. This was a huge legislative victory for people with disabilities.
Discrimination against people with disabilities was made illegal in getting employment, a home, or accessing public spaces.
There is a lot of debate as to whether or not public spaces also includes the internet. Some have argued that websites should be included in public spaces, while many companies have argued against it.
The law is unclear, since it was written well before the internet became commercialized and impacted every part of our lives. That mostly leaves it to the courts to figure out.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided not to hear an appeal from Domino’s Pizza. That leaves a lower court ruling in place where the company was found to have violated the ADA for not having an accessible website.
Where does that leave you? Make sure that you hire web designers who know and understand accessibility guidelines and get your site in compliance.
GDPR send large and small businesses into a tailspin over the last year. GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulations. It was passed by the European Union and after a two-year grace period, went into effect on May 25, 2018.
These sweeping regulations are designed to give more power to consumers as to how their personal data is stored and handled.
There’s a lot to understand for small business owners. For example, if you’re in America, does this impact your business.
It does if your business targets consumers in Europe or you get a number of people on your list from Europe. However, if you’re a local business targeting a local area, you don’t need to comply.
That being said, it’s a good idea to get into compliance. As you’ll learn soon, similar policies are being adopted by states.
The main things you need to know are that you need to disclose what data is collected, how it’s stored, and how a person can see the data that you have. You also have to notify them of any third-parties that handle your data, like your email provider or analytics tracker.
People have the right to see their data and ask for it to be edited and deleted. Failure to comply can result in stiff fines for your company.
3. CALIFORNIA CONSUMER PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT
The CCPA models itself on GDPR and is the most strict out of all of the laws of the internet passed to date. It’s due to come into effect on January 1, 2020.
This law only applies to companies with more than $25 million in revenue with half coming from the collection or sale of personal data.
As a small business, you don’t need to worry about this yet. Other states like Texas and Washington are exploring similar legislation. It’s really a matter of when, not if you need to comply, so you better get started now.
4. AFFILIATE DISCLOSURES
Do you try to add more income to your bottom line by posting affiliate links? If you’re not familiar with them, affiliate links are links that go to another product. If a person buys that product, you’ll get a commission.
It’s a common practice on blogs that recommend products and link to Amazon or other shopping sites. If you get a lot of traffic, you can make quite a bit of money from these links.
You need to make your readers aware of the fact that you’re getting a commission on those links. It’s not just good practice, but the Federal Trade Commission requires it.
You need to have a disclosure that says that you are getting a commission from the site if the consumer makes a purchase.
The disclosure needs to clear and easy to see, ideally as close to the link as possible.
5. MAIN STREET CYBERSECURITY ACT
Cybersecurity has become a major issue for small businesses. About 60% of small businesses have been forced to close because of a data breach or cyberattack.
These attacks are so destructive, the federal government passed legislation to help small businesses protect themselves. This is the heart of the Main Street Cybersecurity Act.
There are no requirements to follow, but small business owners should have access to resources that will help them prepare for a cyberattack.
THE LAWS OF THE INTERNET ARE ALWAYS CHANGING
If there’s one thing that sure, these laws will change. Until there is a comprehensive policy governing data protection and internet access, you’ll have to stay on top of these and other laws of the internet.
In the meantime, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from fines, lawsuits, and attacks. Start by becoming familiar with the various laws and team up with experts who can help your company get into compliance.
You’ll also have to keep an eye out on the news for pending court cases and legislation that can impact your internet presence.
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