Legal Counsel’s Role as Digital Policy Steward
By Alex, Last updated: 2021-05-31 (originally published on 2017-05-10)
Digital workers and business staff throughout organizations are increasingly involved in digital publishing – whether contributing content to the official business website, creating micro-sites, posting to social media, or creating mobile applications. Without comprehensive digital policies to guide workers in their digital efforts – and a sound steward to shepherd the creation and management of those policies – one’s organization is increasingly placed at risk of lawsuits, loss of credibility, or damage to the brand.
The Growing Digital Risk
Digital policies – or your organization’s statements of beliefs, goals, and objectives in order to comply with laws, manage risk, or drive competitive advantage – can directly impact your organization’s online presence and business interests. By creating policies, legal counsel can ensure compliance with local, federal, and international laws and regulations. Simply consider the following:
- Lack of adherence to accessibility requirements that resulted in legal action and fines by the likes of Colorado Bags N’ Baggage or H&R Block;
- Requirement to protect personally identifiable consumer information and the subsequent data-breach lawsuits against Target, or Adobe; and
- failure to comply with data transfer requirements like LinkedIn which has officially been blocked in Russia.
The digital regulatory environment has grown more complex in recent years, with new requirements such as accessibility (the UK in 2010), cookies (the EU in 2011), online privacy (the US in 2012), the right to be forgotten (the EU in 2014), the exporting of personal citizenship information (Russia in 2015). Keeping track of these global legal requirements and how they apply to your organization’s digital presence should not be delegated to those without a legal background.
- Cookies and tracking
- Copyright and protection, intellectual property and trademarks
- Data breach notification
- Data encryption and transfer, data localisation
- Data privacy, and protection of personally identifiable information (including special policy on children’s privacy)
- Digital records management
- Shareholder notification
- Language and content localisation
- Anti-spam laws, including those for email marketing
- Appropriate and prohibited content
- Digital rights management
- Domain names, email addresses and social media accounts
- Online advertising and promotion
- Social media (personal and corporate)
This digital policy checklist should further be customised to your organization based on your:
- Sector (e.g., commercial, business-to-business, governmental and not-for-profit)
- Industry (e.g., pharmaceuticals vs. financial organisations)
- Location (i.e., organisational location, domain, and the user location)
- Digital platforms (e.g., web, mobile, CRM, social)
In Support of the Enterprise
In today’s growing digital market, every organization stands to lose by not addressing opportunities raised by online publishing, and the legal and regulatory risk that this introduces. When legal counsel acts as the steward and initiates a policy program, your enterprise will gain online integrity and increased chances for reaching its overall strategic plan.
About the author
This is a guest post from Kristina Podnar. Kristina is a digital policies specialist, who regularly works with in-house counsels of multinationals, government, and not-for-profit organisations to solve their governance and technology transformation challenges. Follow her on Twitter or read more on digital policy at kpodnar.com