Expecting the Unexpected: Technology Law Issues for Every Small Business – Part 1

October 10, 2019

This is part one of a three-part series outlining the topics of discussion from our presentation to the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce.

This morning, Brandon Harter and I had the pleasure of presenting to a full house of Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce members at the Quarryville Library. Thank you to all who attended and we enjoyed a friendly competition and lively discussion of various ways that technology law impacts every small business in 2019.

If you were unable to attend or if you’d like a brief summary of what was discussed, here’s additional information on two of the discussion topics from this morning’s event:

Issues with Online Business Reviews

There are two main ways that online reviews, testimonials, and endorsements are regulated – first, through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and second, through the terms of service on the platform that you are posting on.

The FTC requires clear disclosure of material relationships with a business, including ownership interests, compensation in exchange for positive reviews, and other ways that individuals might be biased in the review that they provide.

Platforms, such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook, have their own terms of service and rules about reviews. Some of these platforms restrict your ability to even ask customers to go online and write a review on their platform. Failure to abide by a platform’s terms of service can result in deprioritizing your page or even suspension or deletion of your account.

We also discussed how to respond to negative reviews in a way to minimize or avoid the risk of a greater impact on your business.

Learn more about FTC disclosure requirements on the Lancaster Law Blog here: Marketers and Influencers: When Should You Make Disclosures Online

What Data Protection and Privacy Laws Apply to You?

The short answer to this question is it depends on where your customers are located. If you have customers in the European Union, then the EU’s comprehensive data protection and privacy law, GDPR, applies to you.

It doesn’t matter that you’re a business based in Lancaster County. Except in limited cases for specifically regulated industries, there currently is not an overarching federal law in the United States governing data protection and privacy, so if you have customers in all 50 states, you have 50 different states’ laws to comply with.

Learn more about GDPR on the Lancaster Law Blog here: Three Questions to Determine if You Need to Worry About the GDPR

Check back tomorrow for more information on topics of discussion from the presentation.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs. Matt is one of the founding members of the RKG Tech Law Group.