It wasn’t that long ago that the internet was new and uncharted territory. In those early days, almost anything went. You could say or do anything you wanted online without fear of retribution. But as the internet has grown more and more popular, it has also become more regulated. Today, there are laws in place to protect both users and content providers. You could find yourself in legal trouble if you don’t know what these laws are. That’s why it’s important to know the essentials of internet law. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides
The Federal Trade Commission, also known as the FTC, is a federal agency in the United States that deals with issues relating to consumer protection and antitrust laws. One of the FTC’s main areas of focus is advertising, and in 2009 the FTC released its updated Endorsement Guides, which deal with how endorsements should be handled in advertising. The guides are not law, but they are often used as a reference point by courts when determining whether an endorsement or testimonial is deceptive.
The marketing industry was quick to adapt to the new rules. In 2010, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), an industry trade group, released its best practices for online endorsements and testimonials. However, marketers still get into trouble with the FTC from time to time. An FTC defense lawyer at https://www.jeffbullas.com/internet-marketers-trouble-ftc/ has outlined some of the most common ways marketers run afoul of the Endorsement Guides. Knowing the rules can help you avoid making the same mistakes.
2. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is a federal law in the United States that governs how online businesses must handle the personal information of children under the age of 13. COPPA requires companies to get parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing any personal information from children. The law also gives parents the right to review the personal information collected about their children and to have it deleted if they wish.
COPPA applies to any website or online service that is “directed to children” or has actual knowledge of collecting personal information from children. Whether a site is “directed to children” is determined by several factors, including the subject matter of the site, the visual design of the site, and the use of child-oriented characters or celebrities.
3. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a federal law in the United States, was enacted in 1998. The DMCA deals with copyright issues in the digital age and includes several provisions designed to protect copyrighted material online. One of the key provisions of the DMCA is the safe harbor provision, which gives website and online service providers some protection from liability for copyright infringement if they take certain steps to remove the infringing material from their platforms.
To qualify for the safe harbor protections, a website or online service must have a policy for dealing with infringing material, and it must comply with that policy when notified of infringing content. In addition, the DMCA includes several other provisions dealing with issues such as anti-circumvention measures and online service provider liability.
4. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Net Neutrality Rules
The Federal Communications Commission is a federal agency in the United States that regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC’s Open Internet Order, commonly known as the net neutrality rules, was enacted in 2015. It prohibits internet service providers from discriminating against or blocking any lawful content on the internet.
The net neutrality rules ensure that all internet traffic is treated equally, regardless of who is providing it or where it is going. The rules are currently being challenged in court, and the outcome of the legal case will likely determine the future of net neutrality in the United States.
5. The CAN-SPAM Act
The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets the rules for commercial email. It was passed in 2003 and went into effect in 2004. The law covers all types of commercial email, including messages sent to individuals and groups.
The CAN-SPAM Act is important because it establishes some basic rules about how businesses can use email to communicate with their customers. These rules help protect consumers from spam and other unwanted emails.
The law includes several requirements, including the following:
- Businesses must include a valid postal address in all commercial emails
- Businesses must identify themselves as the sender of the email
- Businesses must provide an opt-out mechanism for recipients who no longer want to receive emails from them
- Businesses must honor opt-out requests within ten days
- Businesses must monitor their email campaigns to ensure they comply with the law
The CAN-SPAM Act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC can bring enforcement actions against businesses that violate the law. Violations of the law can result in significant penalties, including fines of up to $16,000 per email.
The CAN-SPAM Act is an essential law for businesses that use email to communicate with their customers. Companies can help protect themselves from enforcement actions and significant penalties by understanding and complying with the law.
6. Terms of Service
Terms of service agreement can be beneficial for both businesses and consumers. For businesses, terms of service agreement can help to protect them from liability. For consumers, terms of service agreement can help to ensure that they understand their rights and responsibilities when using a particular site or service.
7. Copyright Law
Copyright law is a set of laws that protect original works of authorship, such as books, movies, songs, and artwork. Copyright law gives authors the exclusive right to control the reproduction and distribution of their work.
Copyright law is important because it provides protections for creators and incentives for them to create new works. Without copyright law, it would be much more difficult for creators to make a living from their work.
Internet law is a complex and ever-changing area of law. Businesses that operate online must be aware of the various laws that apply to their activities. By understanding and complying with these laws, businesses can help protect themselves from legal liability.