E-commerce laws in the UK

Just as it is the case with other enterprises, online-based businesses are obligated to meet legal responsibilities. Their owners must make sure that they comply with the laws. The specific regulations apply to all companies equally. It is vital for anyone in the online business field to be aware of these laws and the accompanying legal responsibilities. This article seeks to explore the rules that online-based businesses in the UK should meet.

There exist four major laws governing the conduct of online businesses in the UK. These are;

  • The Data protection act 1998
  • The Electronic and Privacy communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
  • The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002
  • The consumer protection regulations 2000

The data protection Act  1998
This law ensures that it offers protection to personal information. It applies to commercial as well as non-commercial organizations. The law necessitates that all online businesses collect the personal information of employees, clients or visitors of its websites to register with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). The law applies to data and information collected by any means and not just electronically. Compliance with the data protection act requires an e-commerce business to;

  • Guarantee the secure storage of collected data
  • Have been registered with the ICO
  • Offer advice to individuals who provide their data on how they can remove it if they wish to
  • Only collect the personal data that is important to the needs of your business
  • If a person requests you remove their data, comply with the request.
  • Store all the collected data securely
  • Ensure that in the terms and condition section of your website you have made it clear what you use the collected data for and conform to what you state
  • Make it clear in the terms and conditions if any data used by a third-party organization is used outside the EU.

The Electronic and Privacy communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
This law governs how consumer’s websites should use cookies. Cookies refer to small text files used by websites to track how visitors are using their sites. They are used for various uses including to collect information on the preferences of a user and their browsing habits. The cookie law’s primary reason is to ensure that users’ browsing e-commerce sites are protected from cookies’ illegitimate use. Though you may not have intended to create cookies for your e-commerce site, some of the plugins or software you use, such as Google analytics could create cookies. For online stores shopping basket software’s, use cookies to record the trend in the choice of products that clients go for.

This law requires online businesses that use cookies to

  • Include in their privacy policy information on how they use cookies
  • Ensure that visitors who get to your site are aware of how they can turn off cookies
  • Inform each visitor that gets to the site that you use cookies

The primary responsibilities that the cookie Law puts on online businesses is necessitating that they add additional information on the privacy policy section in their site.

The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002
This law governs how e-commerce businesses communicate with their clients. For clarity purposes, the law defines clients as any person who uses the site and not just those buying from the site. As a business, you comply with this regulation by ensuring.

  • That the website has displayed terms and conditions.
  • The website has displayed the business address, name, direct contact information, VAT number and company registration
  • Providing clear information on delivery charges, tax and prices
  • Making any marketing teams and offers by the company clear
  • Acknowledge all orders in writing

With this law, there are some measures you need in place before launching the company’s website. Some of these include ensuring that you include a terms and conditions page and contact page on its website.

 The consumer protection regulations 2000
This is a distance selling regulation aiming at protecting the client’s rights. It regulates e-commerce businesses that supply services and goods to the general public. E-commerce businesses under the law are required to;

  • Notify their clients whether the prices displayed are inclusive of VAT.
  • Indicate packaging and postage costs.
  • Make it known to clients when they can return goods for a full refund and under which condition they can’t.

In conclusion, this article has covered the regulations that online-based businesses need to follow in the UK. As a client always ensure that the site you buy goods from complies with these laws. Reviews sites such as the UK collected reviews and Archers Sleepcentre reviews can help you know whether the online shop you choose is compliant.

Ann C. Toledo

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