Last week (18 September 2012) the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) commenced reviewing websites to catch sites that are not complying with the Australian Consumer and Privacy legislation.
Any websites selling goods and services to Australian consumers that do not have Terms and Conditions that make it clear to consumers the terms upon which they are purchasing the good and services, may be breaching consumer legislation.
Even if you have posted Terms and Conditions of purchase this may not be sufficient if the Terms are not clear or are misleading to visitors, your website may be penalized and named in adverse public notifications. Any non-compliant site with Terms and Privacy Policies that do not comply with consumer legislation or privacy requirements will receive a hefty fine and public notification. This could be a substantial risk to company reputations for something that can be easily and inexpensively avoided.
Don’t copy another website’s Terms and Conditions …
You cannot copy other website Terms or Privacy Policies – you need to ensure you have relevant and up-to-date compliant Terms and Privacy Statements on your website. Otherwise, wait until you can afford to ensure you have compliant Terms before you open your site for business. Otherwise you risk public adverse publicity if the ACCC reviews your site and it is non-compliant.
The regulators are becoming stricter with internet businesses and generally no matter where you are located, if you are selling to Australian consumers, you are within the legislative spectrum and subject to the fines and shutdown. Despite that fact that the regulation in this area has been ‘loose’ and less clear for online businesses previously, there is a large and continuing push in the regulatory sphere to ensure that consumers are protected and personal privacy is maintained.
With Privacy being the legislative focus in the last year and current new proposed legislation being considered in the Senate today, online business owners need to be vigilant and ensure they are compliant on a regular and continuing basis. The new latest Privacy laws put the onus on the recipient businesses who may pass on private personal details to external companies, making the recipient business responsible for a breach by any other third party.