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5 Digital Legal Issues Employees Should be Aware of

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Jade Anderson
5 Digital Legal Issues Employees Should be Aware of

Due to the digitalisation of corporations, employers must consider how laws apply to the digital sphere. By disregarding these laws, the business can face a damaged reputation, or be sued. On the opposite hand, competitor businesses and disgruntled employees acting illegally can be dealt with through legal measures, which is applicable if they are copying trademarked logos or leaving false reviews. Here are the top digital legal issues that employers should be aware of.

Intellectual Property

A trademark is a sign or design that is part of intellectual property, which identifies products and services. Registering a trademark over your business logo and name is essential, especially if you are sharing it online via social media, websites and email-marketing. This can become a digital legal issue if another company online steals your business logo, and is using it for financial gain. Moreover, Copyright laws protect the content developed by others to ensure it is not copied. This content under protection includes all authorship works such as dramatic, musical, literacy, songs, and architectural works. To apply this to the digital realm, when writing text for your business website, you must make sure it is original and is not a copy of competitors to avoid legal fines. If you believe another business is using your intellectual property, get in touch with a commercial lawyer like those from LegalVision.

Misleading Conduct

Businesses of all sizes can take advantage of social media marketing such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Some people do not realise that the same false and misleading claims that can be made via television or newspaper advertisements also apply online, as consumer protection laws are not specific to offline media. This can also apply to influencers and reviews, whereby you cannot pay an influencer to say they enjoyed or liked a product when they have never used it. Similarly, if a business allows false negative comments about competitors or false positive claims about their own product even if it is made by fans, the business can be held accountable as they did not monitor and delete the posts.

Defamation

Bad reviews can be detrimental for small businesses especially, but are these considered defamation? The answer is yes, reviews can be classified as defamation if they are false or misleading, and if it is posted in a public space under the Defamation Act 2005. This is because it can persuade other individuals to believe these untrue claims, and can contribute to financial losses for the business. However, there are limitations to who can take action against these reviewers, particularly in Australia. There must be less than a year of time elapsed between when the comment was made and the legal claim, and also a business must have less than ten full time employees to take legal action.

Content Sharing Violence

As of 2019, the Australian government has honed in on social media sites that show ‘abhorrent violent material’. However, this can be user created content, which makes any blog sites, social media sites, dating sites, listings and job sites vulnerable to these laws. This is important due to the shareability of online content, whereby once something is uploaded, it can be hard to shut it down due to shares, comments and screenshots.

Regulation of Employee Social Media

Regulation of an employees social media can differ based on a brand’s own Social Media Policy. It involves the protection of the company’s official accounts as well as the employees own social media. The personal use is governed by the fact that employees are a part of a company’s brand, especially targeted at well known individuals who can cause great problems for the company if they post inappropriate or derogatory content. Additionally, controversy and legal trouble can be created when individuals post from a company’s branded accounts, such as US brand Wendy’s posting a Pepe the frog meme that has white supremist connotations, thus harming their reputation. Finally, harassment and bullying in the workplace can also extend to online, whereby harassment charges can be pressed on individuals and lead to workplace disputes which affects the overall business’ quality of work.

Overall, an employer should be aware of the legal regulations that apply to the digital sphere in terms of employee protection, intellectual property protection, and preserving the good reputation of the business. This is especially evident through the regulation of employees’ social media, intellectual property, and misleading conduct.

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