All businesses face some risk and liability. Online businesses face a type of liability that is not seen in the offline business world. WordPress sites are especially vulnerable to certain liabilities since they are not normally associated with major corporations with large legal teams. To protect your online business, it is important to know what the risks are, and what may be done to mitigate them.
Privacy Policies and Financial Relationships
The FTC has recently instituted regulations on privacy that WordPress publishers and other website owners need to be aware of. These include limiting the information collected on visitors and customers only to data relevant to a transaction, having a policy in place notifying visitors which information is collected, purging information after it is no longer needed and relevant, and allowing visitors and customers the choice to opt out of tracking cookies and other data mining technologies.
The European Union also instituted its own law regarding policies and tracking cookies. This is obviously important for EU based sites to comply with.
Liability for Content Published
Freedom of speech is protected online, but there are still issues of liability to be aware of. Bloggers and other web publishers can be accused of defamation and libel.
Site owners can also come under fire for publishing advice without the necessary licenses. It is important not to claim false credentials or to give advice only a professional should give.
It is common for bloggers and online publishers to use images in their articles. If an image is not clearly licensed for reuse, such as Flickr Creative Commons or stock photo sites, it is best not to use that image and to find another one that is.
When in doubt, it is best to only use images with clear usage rights published next to the image.
The DMCA is mainly used online to deal with the infringement of intellectual property. This may be an issue when one site owner feels another has used their content without permission or in a way that harms their own interests.
Sites should have a clear policy on how to address these issues, and should be ready to act to take down offending material if needed.
Incorporation of WordPress Sites
Some site owners and bloggers, even those trying to stay anonymous feel the need to further protect themselves against litigation and other legal actions in the form of an LLC or other business entity. There are a variety of services online to help site owners incorporate their sites.
To recap the minimum requirements to protect a WordPress site from legal issues, a site should have:
- Should not store unnecessary information, nor should it keep information for longer than needed
- Must disclose financial relationships
- Should be prepared for libel and defamation situations
- Have a DMCA policy
- Make intelligent use of Images
- Consider incorporating if their situation warrants it
The list of potential offences is extensive, but the broad approach listed above should cover many other site owners, like those on Spotify or Blogger as well.