In Idaho, businesses compete domestically and internationally from a state that’s not geographically proximate to a hub of commerce, such as Seattle or Portland. The internet is the principle vehicle most customers use to find and research many Idaho businesses.
With the internet serving as a lifeline that provides connectivity to a universe of customers, business owners must pay attention to certain legal questions.
Does your “connectivity contract” contain sufficient up-time warranties?
We all connect to the Internet through some type of service provider, like CableOne or CenturyLink. If your business is internet-dependent, it makes sense to review the warranty section of your service contract to see what type of promises are made relative to availability of the service and guarantees regarding up-time. If your internet connection is down for five hours on the day after Thanksgiving and you are on online retailer in Idaho, will you have any contractual recourse against your internet service provider?
Do you own your web content and your domain name?
Many Idaho businesses contract with persons or companies located outside of the state to design and host their websites and register domain names for them. If your business had a problem with your hosting provider, or if your web designer was not timely in fixing issues with or making changes to your website and you wanted to move the files and the domain names to a new web host, could you? Do you own the files that constitute your website, and is your domain name registered in the name of your Idaho business such that you could easily port the files and domain to another service provider?
Do you own your data?
Data is becoming a hugely valuable commodity. The aggregation of all the data that is generated by visitors to your website, by their commercial activity on your site and by their activity both before and after they visit your site, is part of a new construct called “Big Data.” Big Data has big value to people who know how to analyze it, extract salient trends and data sets, and monetize that analysis to people who want to know, for example, how many people went to BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com after visiting your independent online bookstore. Your contracts with your storage and connectivity providers should contemplate and specify that you own your data, so that you may monetize it if you feel so inclined.
How secure is your cloud storage?
Idaho businesses are more and more often moving their data to the cloud to recognize the efficiencies inherent in off-site could storage. Many of these cloud providers are not located in Idaho, so it makes sense for Idaho businesses to carefully review their services contracts before they move their data to the cloud and look for provisions ensuring that the cloud provider will virtually secure the data against incursions and corruption, provide backups, assist with data breach reporting obligations and warrant the physical security of the cloud storage facility.
Are you aware of your Idaho data breach reporting obligations?
Idaho Code Section 28-51-105 requires commercial businesses in Idaho who experience a data breach (hack) to undertake certain timely data breach reporting obligations and notify affected Idaho residents. Many other states have similar requirements. Business that operate online and that store customer or client personally identifiable information should be aware of this statute and make sure they can comply in a timely manner if they suffer an incursion or hack that is within the purview of Idaho Code Section 28-51-105. It also behooves an Idaho business to verify that it has cyberliability insurance that will provide assistance with and pay for data breach reporting in a manner that comports with Idaho law.
BONUS SUGGESTION! Make sure your SEO is adequate and effective
Businesses that rely on internet search engines to make sure they are found should ensure that they are using effective Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, strategy.
Brad Frazer is a partner at Hawley Troxell where he practices Internet and intellectual property law. He is a published novelist (search for “Bradlee Frazer” at www.diversionbooks.com), frequent speaker and regular author of internet content. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.