October 21, 2011

Online EU Business Changes

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Rumours of me being locked alone in a basement never to speak again have been greatly exaggerated, and I’m still around. And not just here because we’ve all been ordered we must post on the blog under pain of…

So moving on to some real content, there was quite a bit of fanfair the other week regarding rule changes for online business across the EU. Among the rules being put out there were that retailers will not be able to hide fees (heralded as an end to online airlines giving misleading prices), forms will have to explicitely ask you to opt in rather than opt out, and information on everything being sold will have to be clearer. Theoretically all fantastic ideas, and we’ll naturally work any of these things into new website designs and advise clients wherever possible. But I personally cast doubt on whether or not these good intentions will ever make any real difference.

Recently there were other EU proposed changes to site cookies requiring much more disclosure and limits on what people could track… but which were quietly postponed at the very last minute once realised they were actually unworkable. And there’s plenty of other wonderful ideas currently in UK law for online business which have never been actively enforced. We frequently tell clients about the legal requirements to display company details such as registered address and company number on their website for example, something that’s been a requirement since around 2006. However this is solely because we like to offer the best and technically correct advice possible. To date, we’re actually not aware of a single company being prosecuted if they don’t display this ‘legally required’ info, so whether any of these other new ideas will ever be more than just theories on paper remains to be seen…

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