Is Your Website a Litigation Risk?

In 2018, 2,285 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) web accessibility related lawsuits were filed, which is up over 181% from 2017 which had 814. The impact of disability is radically changed on the web because the web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people with disabilities face. When websites, applications, technologies or tools are poorly designed, they can create barriers that exclude certain people from utilizing the web.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) made it clear that the ADA’s mandate reaches the goods and services provided by public accommodations using Internet websites. With this mandate many businesses sites will be non-compliant, leaving them open to lawsuits. Nearly 1 in 5 people in America are considered disabled which is a huge audience of people that can’t properly view your website.

Compliance is an issue that we have barely scraped the surface of in the US. The fact of the matter is that many large companies have already been sued for neglecting website compliance. Many suits have been filed within the last few years with settlement agreements that range greatly. A lawsuit concerning the Target Corporation has already cost them $6,000,000! It’s best to be ahead of the proverbial curve and ensure that your website is compliant.apple-apple-device-design-285814

Website compliance is an issue that will be taking precedent in the next few years. Many large companies already have been sued over compliance, including Target, H&R Block, Pizza Hut and 1-800 Flowers to name a few. These cases may only be the beginning of an onslaught of website accessibility cases, in the years to come. Aside from the legality benefit, a compliant website also offers additional advantages as well including:

Increases Target Audience- Nearly 1 in 5 people in the United States have disabilities ranging from sight, hearing, physical and cognitive. Offering a website that can be navigated by people with any disability opens more demographics, showing your company is committed to diversifying.

Improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO)- Enhancing functionality and usability on your site can aware you a higher ranking by search engines which includes Google, when your site is crawled.

Help Your Reputation- Having a compliant website shows the public and customers that everyone is valuable to your company, because it allows everyone to view it regardless of what disability they might possess.

Improve Website Usability- Make your web pages easy to comprehend, this allows everyone, disabled or not, to find what they need quickly. Your website will likely convert more leads, because users will trust they can find the content they need quickly.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a series of guidelines that are recognized by the Department of Justice. These guidelines are organized into three levels (A, AA, AAA) with similar types of accessibility features in each with AAA having the highest standards. For most, the objective is to satisfy Level AA guidelines, however some government agencies or nonprofits that cater to a larger impaired audience may work towards satisfying many of the AAA guidelines.

Companies will continue expanding their activism and investment into issues that matter to employees, customers and communities. Taking a proactive stance to website accessibility is the best way to ensure that you avoid potential lawsuits and improve aspects of your website. TAG can provide you with a website audit, giving you detailed information on key aspects of where your website is failing and assist you in creating a site that is compliant. For information regarding website design and functionality visit our website for more information and register for our Website Compliance seminar as well!

GDPR Compliance and Regulations

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is expected to set a new standard for consumer rights regarding their data, but companies will be challenged as they put systems and processes in place to comply.GDPR

The European Parliament adopted the GDPR in 2016, replacing an outdated protection directive from 1995. It carries provisions that require businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of EU citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. The GDPR also regulates the exportation of personal data outside the EU. The provisions are consistent across all 28 EU member states, which means that companies have just one standard to meet within the EU. However, that standard is quite high and will require most companies to make a large investment to meet and to administer.

But can they enforce the GDPR in the United States? The answer is yes, as proven by Privacy Shield that passed in 2016, the United States government is fully prepared to cooperate in the enforcement of privacy laws enacted by the EU.

“Any business that collects even anonymous information from EU residents will be subject to GDPR compliance and, in the event of noncompliance, hefty fines”

Compliance will cause some concerns and new expectations of security teams. For example, the GDPR takes a wide view of what constitutes personal identification information. Companies will need the same level of protection for things like an individual’s IP address or cookie data as they do for a name, address and Social Security number.

The two primary GDPR concerns for US companies include:

Cookie Law (consent) – Majority of websites use cookies which are extremely small files, downloaded to your device when you visit a website. Many commercial sites use them including banks, online publishers, blogs or e-commerce serving the purpose of counting the number of visitors and their behavior. We’ve all seen the phrase “by using this website, you accept cookies” or a variation of the statement. It informs the user, but does it give them an alternative? The GDPR looks to change this in the future giving users an informed choice.

Data Permission (protection) – This includes how you manage email opt-ins or people who request to receive promotional material from you. People need to express consent in a ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’ way, which is reinforced by a ‘clear affirmative action’.

For EU based companies, you have even more concerns:

  • Timely Breach Notification – If a security breach occurs, you have 72 hours to report the data breach.
  • Right to Data Access – If users request existing data profile, you must be able to provide them with a fully detailed and free electronic copy of the data you collected.
  • Right to Be Forgotten – Your customers have the right to request that you totally erase their personal data.
  • Data Portability – This gives users rights to their data. They must be able to obtain their data from you and reuse that same data in different environments outside of your company.
  • Privacy by Design – This section of GDPR requires companies to design their systems with the proper security protocols in place from the start.
  • Potential Data Protection Officers – In some cases, your company may need to appoint a data protection officer (DPO).

The GDPR defines several roles that are responsible for ensuring compliance: data controller, data processor and the data protection officer (DPO). The data controller defines how personal data is processed and the purposes for which it is processed. The controller is also responsible for making sure that outside contractors comply.Though the task seems daunting, compliance is extremely important and necessary when moving your company forward.

For more information on how TAG can help your company become compliant, or to request a compliance please visit our website for more information.

ADA Website Compliance

The United States Department of Justice has determined that failing to meet the current “AA” level of WCAG 2.0 violates the equal access rights of those with disabilities or limitations. Lawsuits filed across the nation have resulted in significant verdicts and settlements, disruption in business operations and loss of goodwill. Here are a few lawsuits that have been filed:

  • Target – $6,020,000 settlement
    • National Federation of the Blind v. Target Corporation
      Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind v. Scribd Inc., 97 F. Supp. 3d 565 (D. Vt. 2015)
  • H&R Block – $100,000 settlement
    • National Federation of the Blind v. HRB Digital L.L.C.
      National Fed’n of the Blind v. HRB Digital L.L.C., 2014 WL 10319389
  • Pizza Hut – Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, Dismissal or Stay denied.
    • Robles v. Yum! Brands, Inc.
      Robles v. Yum! Brands, Inc., No. 216CV08211ODWSS, 2018 WL 566781, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 2018)
  • 1-800-Flowers – Motion to dismiss denied
    • Gathers v. 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc.
      Gathers v. 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc., No. 17-CV-10273-IT, 2018 WL 839381, at *2 (D. Mass. Feb. 12, 2018)

48.9 million Americans are considered disabled. By making your website compliant, you can make your organization accessible to millions of people. WCAG 2.0 was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the highest authority in web accessibility goals and universal design. Published by W3C, the WCAG 2.0 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is a set of guidelines for making digital content accessible for all users, including those with disabilities. TAG’s developers can make your website compliant with these standards.

Did you miss our recent seminar on online compliance regulations? Watch the full seminar below!

You’ll learn: 

    • What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
    • Who does the ADA apply to?
    • Lessons from recent lawsuits
    • Benefits of a compliant website
    • How is website compliance measured?
    • The new standard: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
    • Synopsis: EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
    • Synopsis: Website security

Request a compliance quote from TAG, here.