New online service helps sites stick to the rules


17 Oct 2005

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Hewlett-Packard (HP) has launched a new service for helping organisations to ensure their websites comply with the latest corporate regulations and standards. The service uses technology developed at HP’s software facility in Galway.

The technology analyses a site in detail and offers recommendations for corrective action in accordance with best practice and current legislation in the key areas of website privacy, accessibility, performance, content integrity, conformance and searchability.

In the case of accessibility, if the text on a company’s website is small and hard to read and can’t be changed by the viewer, it may fall foul of guidelines on access for the visually impaired. With data privacy for example, Irish law holds that a website without a privacy statement could be liable for fines of up to €100k per day.

HP contends that websites are constantly changing and have grown in complexity to a point where managing them manually is no longer a reasonable option for many businesses. Following almost a year in development, its Web Governance Service scans and monitors a customer website or sites remotely.

The technology uses a combination of methodologies and processes developed by HP as well as some third-party tools. HP’s privacy office had developed a privacy rulebook and privacy impact assessment tool originally for internal use. Last year the company won the Most Trusted Company for Privacy Award for its progressive privacy practices by TRUSTe, a non-profit agency, and the Ponemon Institute, a privacy think-tank.

Staff at the company’s Galway facility has converted this privacy system into technology that is applicable to outside companies. This in turn is combined with scanning software from third-party vendors. The service is hosted on servers located at the Galway site.

“We scan for all types of legislation; Californian laws, EU laws, Australian laws – wherever an organisation does business and might be affected by those laws,” said Vincent Kelly, Websource programme manager with HP. “We can set up page rules that are specific to a country or rules that go across several countries.” In addition to the scanning service, HP also advises companies on fixing problems with their site that may be uncovered.

The service is confidential and is primarily aimed at large enterprises. Two indigenous Irish companies are said to be evaluating the service, which is being rolled out here and throughout the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. It is available as an annuity service or as a pilot scheme on a per-event basis.

According to Kieran Glynn, an online privacy expert with HP, the types of sectors most affected by these regulations include financial services, pharmaceutical, travel and telecoms. Sites aimed at consumers or young people would also potentially be under the spotlight. “Companies that would have large, customer-facing websites where they accept responses to promotions or surveys have to be careful how they collect data, especially if it’s from children,” he told siliconrepublic.com.

By Gordon Smith