The reach of the Internet lets companies shrink the distance between customers and products or services. New technology brings novel legal issues related to e-commerce, including the need for global legal protections for businesses. If you conduct business electronically, understanding common legal issues makes smart business sense. Some aspects of e-commerce include:
- Privacy and data security
- Tax issues — U.S. and international
- Piracy and copyright infringement
Meet your privacy and security obligationsThis one is a moving target. There are multiple bills pending in Congress intended to spell out an e-business's obligation to keep its customers' private data secure. The laws touch on such matters as when a company may sell information to another or when a consumer must be notified that security has been breached.
Protect your domain nameAs company or product name gains recognition, its domain name becomes a valuable asset. Take some basic steps to prevent competitors from mooching off of your company's successful brand by acquiring trademark protection and registering similar names.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Affordable domain name registration is common today - register your domain name, common misspellings, and similar names at GoDaddy.com. NameProtect helps secure your domain name by offering trademark screening and monitoring and online brand protection.
Collect or pay sales taxThere is currently no federal legislation or statewide enforcement of sales tax on online transactions. Income tax regulations can vary by state, so consult your state tax authority. Proposed federal legislation allowing states to tax sales made over the Internet is likely to pass soon.
- If your site contains content either directed at children or adults-only content, be sure to comply with federal child safety and privacy laws.
- Use digital encryption to secure electronic signatures.