How to Maintain Business Continuity in Uncertain Times

Business continuity planning should be an essential priority for any business including small and medium sized companies just as it is for large companies. Every year, around 20% of all businesses face an event that is unplanned and unwanted that may just challenge their survival. The threats may come from fire, flood, theft, illness or something much worse, but regardless of the problem, businesses that successfully recover are those that have planned their response in advance.

All businesses are unique and there is no generic template that can be applied to every business. However, the following areas of consideration when it comes to continuity planning can act as a start point to prepare your own plan:

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A Startups Guide To Bring Your Own Device Policies (BYOD)

By 2017, one in two firms will no longer provide devices for use by their employees. Under deliberate or default “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies, an increasing number of employees are using their own phones and computers in the workplace rather than hardware owned by their employer.In a 2013 study conducted by Dell, 59% of IT Decision makers said they would be at a competitive disadvantage if they didn’t embrace a BYOD policy. And the companies at the forefront of the movement? Startups of course.

But is BYOD as great as it sounds? Start up companies are among the most financially savvy businesses, always looking for ways to stretch a small budget. At first glance, asking employees to purchase their own devices seems like an easy way to save company funds, while improving staff morale (19% of firms believe BYOD improves employee satisfaction) and offering other benefits.

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How To Fix A Data Breach: Fast And For Good

The Australian Federal Government this week launched the annual Stay Smart Online Week. In conjunction they have released the Stay Smart Online Small Business Guide. Business owners can use this guide to ensure they are following safe online practices, and have sufficient security in place to protect sensitive data from a potential breach.

This comes at a time when businesses, organisations and government departments are increasingly being subject to data breaches on a regular basis. Yet in what is a growing concern, there appears to be little consensus about what entities should do once a breach is discovered.

Defining a data breach is an exercise in itself. At its core, it refers to an unauthorised access of information on a computer or network. Hacking is the most common example, however the guidelines below apply not just to data breaches but to instances of online bullying, defamation, threats and similar problems in the digital space.

So who should you call when you want to investigate a data breach? The straight answer is that it all depends on what you want to achieve.

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How To Use Images Online Without Getting Into Trouble

Where do you get the pictures you use online?

Like most people, do you simply do a Google Search to find something that matches what you’re looking for?  Another really common practice is to just use clipart.

Unfortunately, just because you can find it online doesn’t mean it’s free to use.

There is a growing trend for artists and image copyright holders to send out letters of demand to people using their images.  If you read forums you’ll find that there are people who think this is a scam and unfair. To give you some context, if artists gave away all of their work for free, they would starve and there would be a lot less high quality images for you to use. Copyright law came about for the purpose of protecting the livelihood of creative people and to make it worthwhile for them to continue to produce creative works for the rest of us to use or appreciate and enjoy.

Claims for payment for use of copyright images are not often scams.

When a copyright owner starts to lose income from their work, they have the right to chase up people who are breaching their rights. Copyright is a bundle of rights rather than just one thing and can be breached in a variety of ways. Copying, distributing, republishing, changing, adapting and translating can all be breaches of copyright. If you are in breach, there is a chance that you will receive a letter of demand.

Letters of demand vary depending upon whether they are a form letter, such as those sent out by Dun & Bradstreet on behalf of Getty’s images, or a letter specifically sent out by a legal firm on behalf of their client. We’ve worked with all sorts.

A letter of demand for breach of copyright will usually cover the following:

·         it has been found that you are using the image on your website “for online promotional purposes”

·         the writer is the artist or is authorised to represent the artist or distributor

·         the artist or distributor holds copyright in the work

·         the writer has been unable to verify that you have permission or are licenced to use the image

·         you are requested to immediately remove the image

·         you are asked to pay a licence fee

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7 Legal Essentials for Business Online: Part 7 – Discrimination & Accessibility Online

An accessible website should operate the same way for all its users, regardless of their physical ability. In other words, web accessibility is all about inclusiveness; it is about making sure no one is left out because they cannot see, hear, or use a mouse or keyboard like any able-bodied person. With Google’s algorithm change in April 2015, this also means your website has to be mobile friendly.

Advocacy groups argue that having an inaccessible website is discrimination and violation of human rights. Some have even gone on to file high-profile lawsuits against multinational companies like Target, Sydney Olympic Committee, AOL and others receiving favorable decisions in court. These cases were able to set some important precedents so that if your site is not yet optimized for disabled users, your company may be at risk of civil litigation.

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7 Legal Essentials for Business Online: Part 6 – Anti-Spam Compliance

Anti-spam rules apply to telephone messaging as well as emails. Anti-spam is not just about bulk messaging. It only takes one text message or one email to be found liable for breaches of anti-spam legislation.

If you have a new business and you don’t use one of the common auto-responder or CRM services like Aweber or SalesForce then you might not be complying with anti-spam laws. If you are non-compliant and there are enough complaints made against you, your text or email system can be blocked or cancelled and your whole method of communication disrupted.  Do you want to be blacklisted and lose the trust of your newest customers before you even get a chance to show them what you’ve got?

Being anti-spam compliant is so EASY I am constantly surprised at the businesses that don’t get it right.

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7 Legal Essentials for Business Online: Part 5 – Website Terms and Conditions

If you’ve been following this series of articles you’ll be aware that terms and conditions have been mentioned a couple of times in different contexts, and there is good reason for that. Creating an online business allows you to interact with people all over the world. You no longer have the relative security of watching someone walk through the front door of your store and being able to make a judgment about how you want to behave with them, and how you might expect them to behave.

In an online environment the space is open and accessible 24/7 and you don’t necessarily get to check out your customers before they go to buy. The beauty of being online is that you get to set your own rules, within the context of the laws you chose to apply to your website.  How does this work in practice?

If your business is here in Australia you don’t really want to get involved in a dispute somewhere the other side of the world. You particularly don’t want to get dragged into a court proceeding that is in America, where ridiculous damages claims appear to be the norm. As an aside, did you know that New South Wales is the second most litigious state in the World, behind California?

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7 Legal Essentials for Business Online: Part 4 – Consumer Protection Online

First rule of online business: Do Not Piss Customers Off – They Will Tell the Whole World!

Ok, so some people agree with the idea that any publicity is good publicity and if you’re in that camp, do what you will! For those of you who are concerned about the viability of your business and would rather see no comments on social media rather than negative comments, listen up.

Consumer law (trade practices/ fair trading) was consolidated and made consistent around Australia in 2012 and is now overseen by the ACCC rather than your local consumer affairs or fair trading office. Those offices still exist and continue to manage a raft of local legislation as well as investigating consumer complaints. This consolidation saw an increase in what was covered by consumer laws.

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7 Legal Essentials for Business Online: Part 3 – Online comments

For some reason a lot of people say things on social media and blog posts that they would never say in a letter to the editor in the traditional newspaper format. It’s an interesting phenomenon and one that will no doubt fuel all sorts of legal disputes for years to come.  With the fast pace of online interactions you might forget that your comments remain accessible online indefinitely for those who want to look, and if legal proceedings are involved, someone will be looking!

Did you hear the one about the woman in Western Australia who posted some unflattering comments about her ex-husband on Facebook? The comments were posted in December 2012 and taken down in January 2013. In the meantime a bunch of mutual acquaintances, including the man’s brother, saw the post. Court proceedings were filed and it wasn’t heard by a judge until 2015. Don’t assume that because you’ve forgotten about it, everyone else has too! The Judge decided in favour of the ex-husband and the woman was ordered to pay $12,500 in compensation as well as legal costs.

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7 Legal Essential for Business Online: Part 2 – Privacy Online

What is the big deal about privacy? Everyone gives all their personal information to companies like Facebook and Google, so why not give it to your business? Data privacy is a big deal, particularly in Europe and Cyber-crime is on the increase, or at least awareness of it is. If you collect information, then you are obliged to provide at least minimum protection against disclosure.

So who is covered? If you collect the contact details of your customers, you are collecting personal information which is protected under privacy laws.  If you are a small business, you may not have to comply with privacy laws, but if you want your customers to feel secure in giving you their information, it is advisable to comply.

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