Seasoned ecommerce merchants likely have studied up on the various legal aspects and regulations related to the collection of consumer information, financial and otherwise. There are laws in place, both in the United States Code and in individual state statutes, with rather harsh consequences for violators.
Others of you who are small-time sellers might have given a thought to this issue, but not taken the time or effort to determine whether you are in compliance. That’s a big mistake.
Data protection is shaping up to be one of the most pressing factors of online activity in the 21st Century. Even with the advanced efforts from private entities developing new technologies as quickly as they can, it all goes awry when cracks form and bad actors create new and different reasons for these same virtual guardians to patch a new hole.
Online merchants face complicated, unusual challenges due to the lack of visibility and control over external services administering their websites, including the type and volume of data that is being collected. Even if you believe you have an agreement with a third-party, that doesn’t mean it isn’t farming out some of its duties to a fourth party with no such contractual relationship.
More than just money
As an ecommerce player with a brand to protect, the last thing you want or need is to be the source of a data leak that compromises your customer base. There are ways to keep on top of this digital pandemic.
If you have not had a primer in the basics of internet data regulations, hop over to Rocket Lawyer and learn as much as you can. This group is well versed in all matters of privacy, including ancillary topics such as intellectual property. Rocket Lawyer will tell you what you need to be doing, but be aware that actually doing it may cost you. It’s part of doing business. Don’t balk.
Some privacy concerns are obvious. Failing to protect customer’s credit card information is top of the list. But you may be shocked to learn that these are also among data types protected by privacy laws:
That means if you enter in an agreement with another company to sell or trade your customer data, these are strictly off limits.
And if it weren’t enough to monitor compliance with US and state laws, consider the flourishing trend of international online commerce. Scalefast discusses the unique issues related to obeying laws and regulations in every country, should you choose to sell internationally. Perhaps foreign governments won’t go after small-time violators, but once you land on a bad list, it’s disastrous PR.
Those already conducting international commerce on a large scale are intimately familiar with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Passed by the European Union in May of 2018, it lays out fairly aggressive rules and penalties associated with privacy data.
The lesson to be learned is that protecting your reputation is at least equally crucial as offering quality products and good service. Make sure you’re on the safe side of a vast universe of invisible machinations.
Finally, be your customers’ (and potential customers’) best advocate by finding and relaying the best ways for them to personally protect themselves against a nefarious and damaging intrusion. Chances are they will be more inclined to trust you, not just as a guardian of their best interests, but as an overall source of quality products and top-rate customer service.