Our firm has taken note of a disturbing wave of class action lawsuits against both large and small companies who sell goods and services online, or who use their websites to drive traffic to their physical locations. Some of these lawsuits are based on a company’s failure to make its website accessible to the disabled (which many businesses do not even know they must do). There are several steps businesses can take in order to avoid being a target of one of these lawsuits. This blog post is designed to alert business owners to some of these steps.
Changes and Updates
Material Changes Triggering Notification
Watchdog Policy in California
As of October 14, 2016, it is now much easier for privacy violations to be reported by individual users, competitors, etc., and monitored by regulatory authorities. Missing or inaccurate information or other perceived violations of the California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) can be reported at any time through use of a form available at: https://oag.ca.gov/privacy/caloppa/complaint-form.
Arbitration and Class Action Waiver
Designation of Copyright Agent to Receive DMCA Notices
- physical mailing address
- telephone number
- email address
The Copyright Office provides information on the requirements and process for registering an agent on its website. As of December 2016, businesses must designate agents via an electronic system (paper designations are no longer accepted). All existing paper designations must be re-filed and electronic designations must be renewed every three (3) years. Step by step instructions on registering an agent are available at https://www.copyright.gov/dmca-directory/help.html.
WEBSITE ACCESSIBILITY POLICY
What is WCAG?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were developed in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Web “content” generally refers to the information in and on a web page or web application, including natural information such as text, images, and sounds, as well as code or markup that defines structure, presentation, etc.
Best practice is for a business to have a Website Accessibility Policy and/or Online Accessibility Statement posted conspicuously on its website. Although not an express requirement under any law at this time and not bulletproof, posting a Web Accessibility Policy/Online Access Statement will prevent a business from being the proverbial low-lying fruit for plaintiff’s attorneys, who are suing companies right and left for not complying with WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 (published on December 11, 2008 and June 5, 2018 respectively). Posting such a policy may indicate that a business: (i) has already settled a case and is working to resolve any deficiencies with respect to website accessibility compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or 2) may not be out of compliance enough to warrant a demand or lawsuit.