IP/IT Law: Website Compliance – Compulsary COVID-19 Notification

On a daily basis, we are seeing regulations being issued as a result of COVID-19. On the 26th of March 2020 the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies issued certain directives as published in Government Gazette Notice (No. 43164), under regulation 10(8) of the Regulations as made under the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Government Notice no. 318 published in the Government Gazette No 43107 of 18 March 2020).

One of the directives is Section 5.1.4 of the Notice that states: “All internet sites operating within the .zaDNA top level domain name must have a landing page with a visible link to www.sacoronavirus.co.za

The inclusion of this link will promote the spread of factual information and will assist the public in staying up to date with the development of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The above directive (and law) is just one of many laws that a business needs to adhere to ensure that its website is compliant. With this urgent directive being issued it may be time to ensure that your business website complies with all relevant legislation.

In a very competitive economic climate, with competitors just a convenient click away, businesses can hardly afford not to be online in order to promote their brand, grow sales and reach customers that were previously out of reach.

Your business’s website is the first place users will go to in order to learn more about your business; it is the public face of your business. It is not only important to ensure that the website has a good look and feel and looks professional or that it ‘fits in’ with your target market, but it is also important to know that your website actually needs to comply with a couple of laws.  Just like we have to comply with certain laws in terms of our “brick-&-mortar” businesses, there are various laws governing your website from a South African perspective. i.e. the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002 (EC Act), the Consumer Protection Act 2008 (CPA), the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2013 (PAI), the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 70 of 2002 (RIC Act), the Companies Act 2008 and the Value Added Tax Act.

Some of these laws don’t only tell you what terms and conditions and other information need to be presented on a website, but also in which manner the reference to your website T&Cs must be presented and in what format the T&Cs should be made available to the user.

The consequences of not complying are also clearly stipulated under the various Acts.  Here is just one example from the ECT Act:

If a supplier fails to comply with the disclosure provisions and not allow the consumer to review the entire electronic transaction or the consumer is not able to correct it or be able to withdraw from the transaction before placing any order, then the consumer may cancel the transaction within 14 days of receiving the goods or services under the transaction”.

A compliant website is the first step in building a trusted relationship with the users of your business’s website.  At De Klerk & van Gend Inc. and DKVG Advisory Services (Pty) Limited, it is important for us to ensure that our clients’ websites are compliant.

For advice and guidance on how to become compliant – contact us at it&ip@dkvg.co.za.
For an example of the required link as per the above mentioned directive: – click here

This article is for general information purposes and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact us At DKVG Attorneys for specific and detailed advice.