Australian Privacy Principles (APPs): The APPs set out the rules that businesses must follow with regards to the use and collection of personal information. The nature of online businesses means compliance with the APPs is important. Small businesses with a turnover of less than $3 million annually are not required to comply with Australian Privacy Principles. However, there are exceptions to this rule. To comply with the APPs, online businesses can set up their Privacy Policy.

Breach notification: When personal information has been hacked or taken within consent or permission from an online business, this is considered a data breach. Under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), it is a legal requirement for businesses to notify individuals when a data breach has occurred.

Consumer Guarantees: Under the Australian Consumer Law, various consumer guarantees are set out which are compulsory for all businesses. For online businesses, in particular, the guarantees include that there will be no discrepancy between goods advertised and goods received. This includes website descriptions that the viewer relies on before purchasing the product.

Domain Registration: For online businesses, a domain registration is often one of the first steps. It is prudent to check the availability of a domain before deciding on a business name as this way; there is a higher chance of ensuring the two will match up.

Online Business: An online business is one where the primary sales channels are conducted online. There are various mechanisms of running an online business that must be considered, such as website terms and conditions, IP, payment mechanisms and more.

Parallel Importing: Online businesses that engage in the reselling of genuine products are a form of parallel importing. Parallel importing is the business of selling genuine products directly to consumers in Australia outside of any formal manufacturer distribution channels. It is legal in Australia. However, there are also particular legal obligations that parallel importers should be aware of.

Privacy Policy: A privacy policy is between your business and each person you collect personal information from. Privacy policies will set out what personal information your business collects, how it is used and when it could be disclosed to third parties. Online businesses with a website will, in general, have a privacy policy on their site which serves as a disclosure on how the business intends to use the personal information of visitors to their site.

Spam: Spam is electronically transmitted messages that are commercial in nature but unsolicited by the receiver. Online businesses have legal obligations under the Spam Act 2003 (Cth) and the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) with regards to spam. In particular, companies that operate online cannot send electronic messages without the consent of the recipient; they must identify themselves as the business who is sending the communication, and must allow the receiver the option to unsubscribe.

Terms & Conditions (T&Cs): The T&Cs are essentially a contract between your business and your customers setting out the service or product you are selling and how this will be provided. These terms are to protect your business and ensure your customers are clear on what you are providing. Online businesses tend to provide these terms through a “click and accept” system. It is important for businesses to make sure they have T&Cs and that these are not copied from another business’s website.

Warranties: In addition to Consumer Guarantees, online businesses may choose to have additional warranties provided to their customers. This could include:

  • Free return of products;
  • Manufacturer’s warranty;
  • Extended warranty.

Website Development Contract: As most business owners lack the technical skills necessary to build a functional and attractive business website, an external agency will be engaged to develop the website. Usually, this will be a contractors’ contract. This contract is used to govern the terms and conditions under which the external agency will develop the website and associated code.

Website Terms of Use: These are a set of terms that govern how your website is to be used. It is crucial to have this as it explains to your visitors how they can and cannot use your website. Important terms include limiting liability, indemnity, prohibited conduct and intellectual property protection. These terms should be reviewed and updated when necessary and cover all online activity.

Anthony Lieu

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