From the e-commerce strategy you gave me earlier I understand that by having a website and selling goods via the site I need to be aware of certain laws and regulations, can you please give me a brief description of each law and how they will affect the c

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Joe Alt        Monday, 04 July 2011        


Assignment 3 Unit 8 and 28

Q1 (EP4)

From the e-commerce strategy you gave me earlier I understand that by having a website and selling goods via the site I need to be aware of certain laws and regulations, can you please give me a brief description of each law and how they will affect the company.

The Copyright and Patents Act of 1988

The Copyright and Patents Act of 1988 is an act of parliament where inventors can apply for patents to prevent anybody copying their designs for up to 20 years. To qualify for a patent the invention must be novel and have an inventive step not obvious to an expert in the field.

You cannot patent literary or artistic works, presentation of information or computer code. These come under copyright.

Copyright means you can’t you copy something that has already been copyrighted. For something to be copyrighted, you must be the owner of the work, and it must be your own creation. This means copy and use copyrighted material (text and pictures for the website) without the copyright holder’s express permission.

This will affect Bolton Area Divers in the way that they have to check all of their products or information for any Copyright or Patent infringement.  You can now outsource this job to companies that sort through the new patents and put them into plain English, and tell you about all the new patents concerning a new subject, e.g., diving equipment.  Providing you produce all your own materials, you shouldn’t be infringing on any copyright and providing you display your copyright notices, people are not legally allowed to copy from you.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information is an Act by Parliament which allows you access to any information held by a public body, free of charge.   If the request costs over £450 (£600 for Central Government) for the body to present the information to you, then they can ask you to narrow down the request or decline to provide it. This includes government departments, local authorities and councils, the NHS, educational establishments, museums funded by the public, police, and non-departmental public bodies, committees and advisory bodies.

When a request for information is submitted, the body has 20 working days to reply.  You can submit a request regardless of your age, where you live or where you are from.  You can request information about yourself but this would be handled under the Data Protection Act.

When making a request you can either write or email the public body, including your name, contact address, and a description of what you need to find out.  You need to be specific about your request, general requests taking longer.

You can ask for information to be supplied on paper or in eform, a summary or a specific document or for the information to be supplied in Braille, audio, large type or translated into another language, if required.

If you are going to reproduce the information you will be receiving, you should check the copyright of this information.

As Bolton Area Divers may want to access environmental information, it is useful to know that everyone has access to this information under the Environmental Information Regulations.  The sort of information you can access is air and water quality, noise and waste as well as any decisions, activities or policies which could affect them.  These requests cannot be rejected on just the basis of the cost.

If any requests are refused, there is a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

This will affect Bolton Area Divers in the way that you can request environmental information or other types of relevant information that may be of interest to divers.

Distance Selling Act

Distance Selling Act of 2000 is an act of parliament that protects consumers when buying over long distances such as The Internet, telephone and mail order, and other forms of long distance trading.

You have seven working days from once you receive your product to decide if you are sending them back or not. If you are going to send them back, the cost of sending back the products can exceed the cost of the product themselves. For services you have seven working days from the day after the contract was completed.

You have to give clear, non-misleading, information about the product, the suppliers and the customer’s rights, with the information being in writing.

Data Protection Act

Data Protection Act of 1998

The Data Protection Act of 1998 has eight Key Principles which are:-

  1. Data must be processed fairly and lawfully.
  2. Data should only be collected for specific purpose(s) it was collected for.
  3. Data should be “adequate, relevant and not excessive”.[1]
  4. The information must be accurate and up to date and kept for no longer than necessary.
  5. Data should be kept for no longer than absolutely necessary.  
  6. Data should be processed in line with your rights.
  7. All entities handling the data must ensure data is adequately protected, such as anti-spyware and having staff awareness days.
  8. All data must be kept within the European Economic Area or outside the European Economic Area, if adequate safeguards are in place

These eight principles govern the use of personal data, which include any form of gathered information. Which means you cannot sell, give out, lease or buy any information without the user’s consent. So if you wanted to have a list of people who like diving you need to get the information from your own website rather than obtaining the data illegally.

The Sale of Goods Act

The Sale of Goods Act of 1979 says all products sold within the United Kingdom must be as described, must be of satisfactory quality and fit for the purpose it was designed for. Any goods must be the same you see them in the store or match the description in the catalogue or brochure.

If you are taking goods back under the Sale of Goods act, you have a reasonable amount of time to take the goods back. When rejecting a product, you take your claim up against the retailer. The reasonable about of time depends on the product and how obvious the fault is.

The retailer under this act has to repair, replace or give the money back. If you want your money back you have only a limited time to do this in. If would want it repaired or replaced the retail can do which one is cheapest, the retailers have to do within a ‘reasonable time’ and without causing ‘significant inconvenience’. If the retailer does not do this, you get money off the purchase price or money back relative to how much the product has been used.

If the retailer uses to repair your product, you can get a third party to repair the goods and claim back the costs from the retailer.

Q2. (P3, EP3)

The Data Protection Act that you have just mentioned seems to be a really important one and it sounds as though that there may be many risks or threats to the e-commerce section, could you please explain these issues in depth.

The Data Protection Act covers all data within your company so it is important as you said. The Data Controller in your company has to register with the Information Commissioners Officer (ICO); failing to do so is a criminal offence. You need to reregister each year; failing to do so is a criminal offence. Types of people exempt from registering are:

  1. Staff using data for internal staff use such as payroll and people’s birthdays, earnings etc.
  2. People involved in advertising and public relations only within your own company (no third party companies).
  3. Staff dealing with accounts and records (HR department)
  4. A proportion of not-for-profit organisations.
  5. Domestic and recreational use.
  6. Managing a public record.
  7. Paper only processing, or other manual processing types.

Principle 1

Principle 1 says that the data must be fairly and lawfully processed, and the ICO defines processed as “broadly means collecting, using, disclosing, retaining or disposing of personal data”.

Fairness is covered by the ICO as:

  1. Being open, truthful and non-misleading about your identity.
  2. Be upfront and honest about how you intend to use your data.
  3. Only use the data in a way that they expect it to be handled.
  4. Above all, you can’t use the data in a way that will affect them negatively.

Unlawful is defined by the ICO as:

  1. Any breach of confidence whether implied or stated, such as in financial or medical situations.
  2. If your organisation (Bolton Area Divers) oversteps their legal powers, or uses them inappropriately.
  3. If you copy a copyrighted item without permission
  4. If you breach a binding contract.
  5. “a breach of industry-specific legislation or regulations”[1]
  6. If you breach the Human Rights Act of 1998 in terms of privacy in family life, home life and communications.

You can under the Data Protection Act for a new purpose if the new purpose is not too far from what you already do, and it is fair to do so, eg: an electronics manufacturer sends you a catalogue of electronic parts, screwdrivers, mirrors on long sticks and oscilloscopes would be considered a reasonable expansion if they went on to send information about computers and computer parts. This will be considered by customers and recipients, a natural addition to the company’s range of products. Anybody who considers this to be unfair can ask for the publications to stop.

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If the reason for using the information is not a reasonable move from the original purpose, you need to get the customer’s okay. If you are selling the information, you need to get permission.

Principle 2

Principle 2 is pretty much the same as principle one when you go in detail. Practically all it says is that you cannot disclose information that in reasonable opinion was unfair or wasn’t collected for the purpose it is being used for.

When you do disclose personal information, you must send a privacy notification and obtain permission, either at the time ...

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