5 Most Vital Legal Concerns for Small Businesses in the Age of Disruptive Technology
These days, small businesses make up 99.7% of America’s companies, and this is expected to increase over the next few years. However, with these growing numbers come growing concerns — especially in today’s age of disruptive technology. Rapid advancements have led to newer ways of doing business, and with this, newer issues that budding companies have to take into consideration.
While new technology should do away with biases in HR processes, this may not always be the case. Mind Matters’ Denyse O’Leary points out that AI systems, although purportedly running on objective data, have algorithms that are built by humans. The training data it learns from is assembled and annotated by professionals, whose all-too-human biases can definitely influence.
Therefore, when taking the human element out of recruitment and payroll functions, small businesses will need to be more mindful to avoid any issues regarding pay equity. The automation of these processes may cause legal problems down the line, as it’s only a matter of time before bills that tackle equal pay for women and minorities come into play — cracking down on pay gap issues once and for all.
Gallup’s State of the American Workplace estimates that around 43% of employees work remotely, which has contributed to the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. And while this might make practical sense for small businesses, letting employees work on their own devices exposes companies to security threats.
In this regard, Inc. explains that data loss and user privacy violations are pressing security concerns that businesses must be aware of. To counter these risks, employers must establish strong BYOD policies that protect data. Mainly, these have to do with turning over business information and deleting data when their employment period ends. BYOD policies should also include contingency plans regarding loss, theft, and hacking, all of which pose a significant threat.
Data Protection and Privacy Concerns
Digitizing businesses has brought about better efficiency and accuracy across the board, but it has also opened up the risk of data breaches for company databases. This is why Maryville University reveals that salaries for information security managers and network architects can easily reach six-digit figures, an expense that small business owners must consider as a serious investment. That’s mainly because data breaches can lead to millions of dollars lost in legal costs.
A notable example of this is the 2013 Yahoo! data breach, which shed around $350 million from the company’s value. Another example was the 2017 Equifax data breach, which cost the company $1.4 billion. While Yahoo! and Equifax are much larger companies, do not make the mistake of thinking a business is too small for cybercriminals to attack. In this day and age, everyone is a potential target. This is highlighted by states such as Utah, which has led the charge in upholding digital privacy and data protection legislations.
Small Business Trends emphasizes the importance of protecting your company’s intellectual property as it can make or break your business. One of the first things budding entrepreneurs must do is to register a copyright, trademark, or a patent to avoid other businesses infringing on unprotected intellectual property.
The Rivard Report’s piece on technology lawsuits is a great example of this, as small businesses prepare to be entrenched in legal battles regarding their patents. Similar to data protection, patents may seem expensive at first, but these will be incomparable to legal costs that could easily be avoided by prioritizing intellectual property concerns early on.
Social media has made communication and staying connected easier than ever. Businesses also use social media as an invaluable tool in promoting their brands to wider audiences, and rightfully so.
The World Wide Web, however, is not outside the realm of scrutiny and regulation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlines the dos and don’ts when it comes to online advertising and marketing, which can help businesses avoid any legal issues that may hinder a brand’s growth. One of the more common problems that befall small businesses comes in the form of native advertising. Native advertising ads are ads that resemble typical forms of functional and consumable media (news, social media pages, apps). It is important that companies disclose the advertorial nature of the content they release to avoid any FTC violations and costs down the road.
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Article by Erica James