The World Wide Web is a modern field of business activity and economic growth. The sale of mainly online goods and services helps companies increase their production, while simultaneously reducing their operating costs. As part of this development, shops lease smaller sized properties in areas with lower commercial activity and transfer their interest in internet sales. Also, freelancers seek to promote their businesses and personal images via their websites. That means that the website has become a modern showcase and the actual service area of a shop or business and the internet has become a large shopping center.
Ecommerce: Similarities of online and face-to-face sales of goods and services
The setup and the operation of a website differ little in the way that a store traditionally operates. In an online store, the hosting provider is the lessor, the CMS (content management system) is the main body of the building, the components are the bricks, the modules comprise the hydraulic system, the plugins are the electrical installation, the MySQL database is the automation system, etc. Therefore, it is obvious that, just as for setting up a brick-and-mortar store, the creation of a website requires the collaboration of professionals from different disciplines. The work of each should be such as to ensure its smooth technical operation.
Contractual and tort liability of internet professionals
The professionals involved in building and operating websites are liable to the owner of the website both conventionally and in tort for the provision of their services, just as the website’s owner is responsible to his own clients for the products and/or services sold via the website. Given that the internet and the sale of goods and services are governed by their own modern legislative framework, which is combined with the existing legal rules, it is important for every web professional to know exactly his or her rights and obligations within the framework of a contractual obligation.
Neglect of legal coverage by internet professionals
Providers of goods and services via the internet should not only be fully aware of the responsibility they undertake as part of their profession, but also receive the corresponding legal advice and support when necessary. The reality is that internet professionals do not consider legal coverage as important when taking on a project. For this reason, they do not sign contracts with their clients for projects they undertake because they're not going to commit a faux pas and, if they ultimately do fail to fulfill the contract, they will not face legal consequences.
The necessity of legal coverage when taking large projects online
Neglecting legal coverage may not have serious consequences when undertaking a small project, such as designing a custom template for a web page, because, in such a case, the loss of the employer can easily be rectified by the contractor. But it is not the case when large projects are undertaken, such as setting up a complex website (e.g., e-shop), building a component/module/plugin, perform optimization or repair of a database, etc. There safeguarding the interests of the employer and the contractor requires a contract in which the obligations of all parties shall be explicitly defined, describing in detail the individual steps and the timetable of the project, determining the penalties in case of default of the parties, as well as specifying other contractual terms.
The necessity of legal coverage in online sales
The owner of a business which collects personal data of users through its website as part of a transaction (e.g., a sale), has the status of the controller of such data. In the context of Greek legislation, that status confers specific obligations towards the data subjects (i.e., buyers). Before executing an online sale, in addition to the terms which relate to the sale itself, there should be a clear description and notification to the data subject/purchaser of the personal data processing policy, which should be lawful so that the owner of the website/vendor as data controller will not face any penalties from competent control authorities and bodies. The user must agree to the processing of his data in order for it to be lawful.
In case of violation of the terms of N. 2472/1997 by the personal data controller, he or she may be subjected to administrative and criminal sanctions. In particular, according to Article 21 of N. 2472/1997, a fine of € 880,42 to € 146.735,14 could be imposed upon the data controller. At the same time, Article 22 of the same law provides for prison sentences and fines, depending on the type of violation. Finally, under Article 23 of the above law, the data subject/buyer can claim, in addition to compensation for any property damage, punitive compensation for unlawful processing of his data in accordance with Article 932 of the Civil Code, which is defined at least in the amount of 5.869,41 €.
The installation of cookies in the user terminal equipment is permitted only after he or she has received the information and granted consent. This consent may be given through appropriate settings in the browser or through another application, such as modules and plugins in Joomla! CMS. Consequently, lawful design of a website must allow the user to refuse the storage of cookies on his computer before they are installed. Also, a well-drafted and lawful legal note which explains the user’s rights must be uploaded and adapted to the needs and the operation mode of each website. It should be noted that, under Articles 14 and 15 of the 3471/2006 law, civil and criminal liability of violation is established, regulating the storage and operation of cookies.
Support services for technology and internet companies
Our law firm provides comprehensive legal advice and support to software design companies, technology products, and internet professionals. We specialize in:
- The compilation of private contracts for electronic and technology projects and your legal representation throughout the duration of the project.
- Your legal protection in case of violation of the contractual terms of the execution of the project from another party, which may include damages claimed due to unconventional behavior and/or tort and due to moral damage, as well as the claim for lost profits.
Rozou & Associates Law Offices’ managing partner, Athanasios Rozou, designed his first website, in 1999, by programming the HTML code before he even bought his first computer. Since then, he has continuously developed his knowledge in this specific sector. In 2008, he set up this website, which he still maintains. We know the terminology, cPanel, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, account executions, CPU time usage, templates, components, modules, etc. Not only do we understand the technical construction and maintenance of a website, but also the legal aspects. Our comprehensive knowledge will save time and significantly increase the chances that your case will have a successful outcome, since you and your lawyer will speak the same language - the language of technology and the internet.
Do not hesitate to entrust your case to us. We will be glad to be of service!