20 Jun

Introduction / E-commerce and information websites / Information Disclosure Requirements / Consumer Protection / Privacy and Data Protection / Cookies / Accessibility / Cybersecurity / Platform-to-Business Relations / Online Payments / Advertising, Promotions, and Direct Marketing / Competition Law / Taxation / Liability for Third-Party Content / Online Safety and Suitability / Intellectual Property and Respecting Copyright / Geographic and Territorial Considerations / Conclusion 

Let us know if you need some website terms of use and/or terms and conditions for your business- these are some of our most requested documents.


In today's digital age, websites often play a crucial role in business operations and communication. However, website operators must ensure compliance with various legal and regulatory requirements to protect themselves and their users.  

This article provides a guide to the key compliance requirements for websites, covering areas such as information disclosure, consumer protection, privacy and data protection, cookies, accessibility, cybersecurity, platform-to-business relations, online payments, advertising, competition law, taxation, liability for third-party content, online safety, and intellectual property.  

E-commerce and information websites

AspectE-commerce WebsitesInformation Websites
PurposeFacilitate online commercial transactionsProvide content and information
FunctionalityProduct catalogs, shopping carts, payment gateways, order processing systemsBlog posts, articles, news sections, search functionality, multimedia content
Primary FocusSelling products or services directly to customersSharing knowledge, news, articles, or educational resources
Transactional FeaturesEnable customers to browse, select, and purchase items onlineN/A
Content FocusProduct listings, pricing, descriptionsArticles, blog posts, news updates
Revenue GenerationDirect sales and transactionsAdvertising, sponsored content, subscriptions
User InteractionShopping cart, checkout process, payment optionsComment sections, social sharing, search functionality
ExamplesAmazon, eBay, ShopifyWikipedia, news websites, personal blogs

The main difference between e-commerce websites and information websites lies in their primary purpose and functionality: While e-commerce websites prioritise facilitating online sales and transactions, information websites prioritise delivering valuable content and engaging visitors with relevant information. 

It's worth noting that some websites may combine elements of both e-commerce and information, offering products or services alongside informational content.  Please note that this table provides a general overview and there may be variations and overlaps between e-commerce and information websites based on specific business models and website functionalities.  

Information Disclosure Requirements:  

Website operators must provide information about themselves, including their name, registered number, physical address, communication address, VAT number (if applicable), trade bodies or professional associations they belong to, and details of any dispute resolution procedures.  

The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015, the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, and the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 outline the specific information disclosure requirements.  

Consumer Protection

Website operators selling to consumers must comply with consumer protection legislation, such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which covers rights and remedies for the sale and supply of goods, services, and digital content.  

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply to distance, doorstep, and on-premises sales, imposing information requirements, cancellation rights, and restrictions on hidden costs.  

Privacy and Data Protection:  

Website operators collecting and processing personal data must comply with relevant data protection laws, such as the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).  

Compliance includes stating what data is being processed, obtaining necessary consents, maintaining privacy policies and notices, and entering into appropriate contracts with joint controllers or processors.  


Websites often use cookies to store user information and track browsing activities.  However, the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 regulate the use of cookies.  Website operators must obtain user consent for placing cookies and provide clear and comprehensive information about them. 


Under the Equality Act 2010, website operators have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in the services they provide.  Directive (EU) 2016/2102 and the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 set accessibility requirements for public sector websites and mobile applications.  


Website operators must ensure the security of their websites and protect against cyber threats. Specific security obligations arise under data protection laws and the Network and Information Systems Regulations 2018, which require security breach notifications and impose fines for non-compliance.  

Platform-to-Business Relations

The EU Platform-to-business Regulation provides a regulatory framework for online intermediation services, ensuring fairness, transparency, and effective redress for business users.  

Website operators offering online intermediation services must comply with the EU or UK Platform-to-business Regulation, depending on their location and target market.  

Online Payments

Websites facilitating online payments must comply with additional regulations, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), which ensure secure payment card processing.  

Advertising, Promotions, and Direct Marketing:  

Website operators must comply with advertising laws and regulations, including rules on advertising content, pricing, and consumer protection.  Promotions and direct marketing activities are subject to specific laws, such as the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.  

Competition Law

Website operators must ensure compliance with competition and anti-trust laws to avoid engaging in anti-competitive practices.  Vertical agreements and horisontal cooperation agreements may be subject to specific regulations.  


Website operators must consider domestic and cross-border tax issues related to their online business operations.  VAT rules, distance selling rules, and digital services taxes are among the key considerations.  

Liability for Third-Party Content:  

Website operators may have liability for third-party content, depending on their role as a mere conduit, caching provider, or hosting provider.  The EU E-Commerce Directive and the UK E-Commerce Regulations 2002 provide defences against liability for certain types of third-party content.  

Online Safety and Suitability:  

Website operators must ensure online safety and suitability, especially when providing services to children.  The Age-Appropriate Design Code and the Online Safety Bill set standards and obligations for protecting users from online harm.  

Intellectual Property and Respecting Copyright:  

Website operators must respect intellectual property rights and ensure they have appropriate licenses for using copyrighted materials.  Linking to other sites, web crawling, indexing, caching, and scraping may raise copyright and intellectual property issues.  

Geographic and Territorial Considerations:  

Website operators must consider geographic and territorial requirements, such as online content portability and geo-blocking regulations.  The EU Portability Regulation and the EU Geo-blocking Regulation address cross-border access to online content and unjustified geo-blocking practices.  

Specific requirements for E-commerce website 

E-commerce websites have certain specific requirements that are unique to their nature as platforms for online commercial transactions, some of these include: 

Product Catalog: E-commerce websites need to have a well-organised and easily navigable product catalog that showcases the available products or services. This includes clear product descriptions, images, pricing, and any relevant specifications. 

Shopping Cart and Checkout Process: E-commerce websites must have a functional shopping cart system that allows customers to add products to their cart, review their selections, and proceed to the checkout process. The checkout process should be secure, user-friendly, and include options for payment and shipping.

Payment Gateway Integration: E-commerce websites need to integrate secure payment gateways to facilitate online transactions. This involves setting up systems to accept various payment methods, such as credit cards, digital wallets, or bank transfers, and ensuring the security of customer payment information.  

Order Management: E-commerce websites require systems to manage and process customer orders. This includes order tracking, inventory management, order fulfillment, and shipping logistics. 

Customer Accounts: E-commerce websites often provide the option for customers to create user accounts. These accounts allow customers to save their personal information, track order history, manage preferences, and facilitate a smoother shopping experience for returning customers.  

Security and Privacy: E-commerce websites must prioritise the security and privacy of customer data. This involves implementing secure socket layer (SSL) certificates, encryption protocols, and compliance with data protection regulations to protect customer information. 

Customer Reviews and Ratings: E-commerce websites often include features that allow customers to leave reviews and ratings for products or services. These reviews help build trust and provide valuable feedback for other potential customers. 

Return and Refund Policies: E-commerce websites should have clear and transparent return and refund policies to address customer concerns and provide guidelines for handling product returns, exchanges, or refunds. 

Customer Support: E-commerce websites should have mechanisms in place to provide customer support, such as live chat, email support, or a dedicated customer service hotline. This helps address customer inquiries, resolve issues, and provide assistance throughout the shopping process. These requirements ensure that e-commerce websites provide a seamless and secure online shopping experience for customers while meeting legal and regulatory obligations related to online transactions.  


Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is essential for website operators to protect themselves and provide a safe and trustworthy online experience for their users.  

By understanding and adhering to the key requirements outlined in this blog post, website operators can ensure their websites are compliant and avoid potential legal issues.  It is always sensible to seek advice to ensure full compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Also see our related articles on the small print, website terms of Use vs Terms and Conditions.

Other documents you can obtain from us include:

A website Terms of Use template; and 

A website Development Checklist.

Legal Notice: Publisher: Atkins-Shield Ltd: Company No. 11638521
Registered Office: 71-75, Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JQ 

Note: This publication does not necessarily deal with every important topic nor cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not designed to provide legal or other advice. The information contained in this document is intended to be for informational purposes and general interest only. 


Atkins-Shield Ltd © 2024

* The email will not be published on the website.