Technology Law: with Billy Hawkes & Ronan Lupton

Data Protection and ePrivacy law are now a part of doing business online. With high profile cases of lost or leaked data and ubiquitous social networks, consumers are  increasingly aware of how website owners, large and small, handle their personal data. In the  Technology in Business segment on today’s show Billy Hawkes the Data Protection CommissionerRonan Lupton, Barrister, specialising in media and commercial law and I, joined Bobby Kerr for an extended version of the Technology in Business segment. Extended, because there’s lots to say!

Direct marketing via email to your existing customers or a cookie that recognises a returning visitor to your website are all subject to Irish Data Protection Law, and the Data Protection Commissioner explained the relevance of Irish law to not only large technology companies, but to all SMEs with a website or who retain customer data.

And for businesses selling or promoting products online you need to bear in mind where you get images, descriptions and content that you publish. In the old days, you wouldn’t have gone to a competitor’s shop, photocopied their brochure, copied their descriptions and produced your own catalog, yet we do see this sort of thing happening online. If you copy content, or use material without permission you could have legal woes ahead.

“A cookie, sometimes called a web cookie, or a browser cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on a user’s web browser while the user browses a website. A cookie is usually a string of text, numbers and some alpha-numeric characters stored as a text file on the users computer.”


When you’re doing business online, I’m an advocate for a common sense approach; would you do it in the ‘real world’, of business?  If the answer’s no, you probably shouldn’t do it online. So always seek permission to use or reproduce content. My experience is that people will often say yes, but big brands or suppliers often have image use or brand guidelines, which they’ll tell you. They may well supply you with better quality images than you’d pick up around the web anyway.

And what’s a common sense approach to Data Privacy? Treat your website users and their data with respect and be open with them. Do you really need to collect any data from them? Make sure, if your website uses cookies, that you have a prominent notice on your website regarding this. If your website doesn’t use cookies, I’d suggest that’s worth telling visitors also – transparency is gradually becoming appreciated and expected by web visitors. I’ve come across various free and open-source solutions to the Cookie law notice – SilkTide is a good example. So if you maintain your own website, you could customise a tool like this or talk to your web-designer and have them do it for you.

If you do you collect data from your website users treat it with care; never sell it, never share it and protect it. The best place to start a review of your compliance is the Data Commissioner’s website and the Self-Assessment Checklist; and the case studies on the data commissioner’s website are an excellent indicator of how the law is interpreted, and implemented in a real world situations.

Data protection, copyright, e-privacy – there not there to cause you a problem, rather the law is well defined to ensure you don’t have one in the future.

“And no, the EU directive isn’t a boon for the web-design industry; I customised the SilkTide Cookie Notice for my website in less than an hour.”

  1. : Data Privacy Checklist
  2. RIght to be forgotten : Google in Spanish courts
  3. Social Media Ethics & Regulation: @ TJ
  4. What is a Cookie? : Redcert
  5. SilkTide’s cookie consent : open-source tool for websites
  6. Raytheon and Social Media data : RedCert
  7. My Secret Crush on Big Data : RedCert