30 Mar 2023 | Accessibility | Public sector | Private sector
In the digital age, businesses and organizations must take into account their cross-border responsibilities when it comes to digital compliance. This includes ensuring accessibility and privacy for all users, regardless of their location or nationality. With the increasing use of the internet and digital technologies, it is crucial that website owners and operators understand their responsibilities and take the necessary steps to comply with regulations in different jurisdictions. Failure to comply can result in legal and financial consequences, as well as damage to the reputation of the business or organization.
Accessibility is one of the most critical areas of compliance. It refers to the practice of designing and developing websites and digital content in a way that makes them accessible to people living with disabilities. This includes individuals with visual impairments, hearing impairments, motor impairments, and cognitive impairments.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to ensure that websites are accessible to people with living disabilities. While not a regulation, WCAG is widely recognized and adopted around the world as a standard for website accessibility to which most laws and regulations refer.
Examples of accessibility regulations from different countries include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the US, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in Canada, the Equality Act 2010 (which builds on the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) in the UK and Standard EN 301 549: EN 301 549 which is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) that defines accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) products and services in Europe.
Privacy is another area of digital compliance that businesses and organizations must take into account. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in data protection and privacy regulations across the world. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, are just two examples of data privacy regulations that website owners and operators must comply with. This includes implementing appropriate data protection measures, obtaining user consent for data collection, and ensuring that user data is stored and processed securely.
Meeting cross-border regulatory requirements for digital assets such as websites can be a complex and challenging task for businesses and organizations. In addition to the diverse regulatory frameworks, additional challenges that website owners and operators face include:
- Technological challenges: Complying with digital compliance regulations often involves implementing technical measures which can be challenging to implement across different platforms and devices, particularly for businesses and organizations that operate across multiple jurisdictions.
- Enforcement challenges: Even if businesses and organizations are aware of regulatory requirements in different jurisdictions, enforcement can be challenging. Different countries have different mechanisms for enforcing digital compliance regulations, and it can be difficult for businesses and organizations to navigate these systems.
- Cost and resource constraints: Complying with digital compliance regulations often requires significant investment in time, resources, and expertise. Smaller businesses and organizations may find it challenging to meet these requirements due to limited resources and budget constraints.
Meeting cross-border digital regulatory requirements can be a complex and challenging task for businesses and organizations operating in different jurisdictions. Businesses and organizations must be aware of the different regulatory frameworks, language and cultural barriers, technological challenges, enforcement challenges, and cost and resource constraints that they may face. Managing this could include a short-term strategy of blocking access to website visitors from certain jurisdictions to negate the need to comply with a specific regulatory framework if considered too difficult or costly to comply with. Longer term, as regulatory frameworks become more stringent across geographies, compliance with the highest standards is advised. By working with experts in digital compliance and investing in the necessary resources and expertise, businesses and organizations can navigate these challenges and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements in different countries.