E-Commerce respectively “Internet Law“

A quick shopping session without even getting off the couch – the Internet makes it possible. More and more companies are selling their goods and services only through the internet – e.g. apps. However, special rules apply for shopping outside of business premises – these rules must be complied with in order to ensure that internet shopping runs smoothly.

The internet presence of companies must comply with a number of rules. These concern not only the company website, but first and foremost all web shops and their terms and conditions. The Austrian E-commerce Act as well as the Austrian Media Act provide for a number of reporting requirements: The internet surfer must initially be clearly and explicitly made aware of who operates the web page; owners of mainstream media internet presences must furthermore disclose all persons and/or companies directly or indirectly involved, and their ownership, shareholder, share ratio and voting rights structure.

Pursuant to the Austrian Telecommunications Act, the internet surfer must, in any case, if cookies are being used, further be informed of which personal data is stored in the cookies and for which purposes as well as for how long, and on which legal basis this is happening. This information may be provided in an easy to find data protection policy or within the framework of the terms and conditions.

Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act, obtaining personal data through cookies is generally only allowed if the user has given his informed consent – from the explanatory remarks to § 96 (3) Telecommunications Acts this can also be deduced from the user’s browser settings, provided the user has activated the use of cookies there.

An exception to this general duty to inform only exists for those cookies, whose sole purpose is the transmission of a message through the communication network or which is strictly necessary for this purpose, so that the site operator may provide a service expressly requested by the user.

For web shop terms and conditions, the content control of the Austrian Consumer Protection Act, as well as the Remote and Distance Transactions Act. The Austrian Consumer Protection Act in particular declares certain contract clauses (such as e.g. general liability exclusions for gross negligence or personal damages, even if the latter is the cause of slight negligence) invalid and therefore unenforceable. The Remote and Distance Transactions Act regulates not only further duties to inform, but also in particular the right of the consumer to revoke a contract concluded on the internet within 14 days without stating any reason, whereby the user must be informed of this right to revoke in a detailed manner.

The period of revocation generally only begins when the user has received the ordered goods; in case of one order for several products, the period begins with the date on which the user received the final product. In case of services, the date begins with the date on which the contract was concluded. Longer periods of up to one year and 14 days apply if the web shop operator has not informed the user of the right to revoke.



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