LEGAL ISSUES AND LAWS

Legal

Accessibility

If your business has a website, it should be accessible to disabled users. There are ethical and commercial justifications for this, but there is also a legal reason: if your site does not meet certain design standards, it is feasible that you could be sued for discrimination.

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Email

Laws relating to Monitoring Your Employees

With employee access to the internet and external email networks quickly becoming the norm, employers are becoming increasingly concerned with monitoring the activities of their employees at work. Within certain constraints, employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, and many employers feel that giving employees access to the internet and email increases their chances of incurring liability, for example, for sexual harassment claims or for defamatory statements made on email networks.

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Laws relating to Email notices and email footers

Disclaimers and confidentiality notices are automatic additions to the end of many organisations' email, sometimes adding half a page of text or more to the sender's message. There is no legal authority on the effectiveness of these notices in email messages; but that is not to say that they should not be used, provided care is taken in drafting them. The disclaimer and the confidentiality notice are intended to serve different purposes, and ideally should be separated.

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Laws relating to Encryption and Digital Signatures

Encryption has many legitimate business and other uses, there are concerns over the use of encryption for military and/or criminal purposes. These concerns have led to the introduction of controls on the use of encryption as well as the granting of rights for investigatory authorities to access encrypted data. Moreover, mechanisms are needed to verify the authenticity of electronic data, in addition to dealing with electronic data security and access.

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Email Marketing

Most companies now use some form of direct marketing to find new customers, and to keep in touch with existing customers. The advent of email revolutionised the direct marketing industry, making the process cheaper, more wide-reaching and in some circumstances more effective. Unfortunately all of the advantages of email marketing are also exploited by spammers.

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Data Protection Act

Data protection laws exist to strike a balance between the rights of individuals to privacy and the ability of organisations to use data for the purposes of their business. The Data Protection Act 1984 introduced basic rules of registration for users of data and rights of access to that data for the individuals to which it related. These rules and rights were revised and superseded by the Data Protection Act 1998 which came into force on 1st March 2000. This Guide explains what you should know about data protection under the Data Protection Act 1998 ('the Act').

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Confidentiality

Confidential information can be the most valuable asset of a business. A competitive edge in the marketplace may rely on a business having certain information which its competitors do not. However, unlike more tangible assets, the law may not automatically prevent others from taking or using valuable information.

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