If you are new to the server arena, you might not have considered the legal implications of running one or more websites or even having an entire hosting company. There are local, federal, and international laws that you might need to address, depending on the content and audience of your websites.
Environmental – Many locations now have required environmental regulations for data centers. If you are housing your own equipment, you will need to make sure your data center complies with these regulations and is energy efficient.
Privacy – This one can be a little trickier since the privacy laws differ so widely from one country to another. In the United States, your customers may be concerned by recent privacy issues raised about government spying. You may be able to alleviate some of those concerns by using encryption that only customers know while still complying with government regulations. If you have European customers, you will need to provide even more privacy assurance. The EU even requires websites to declare if they are using cookies in the user’s browser.
Criminal Law – It goes without saying that you will need to comply with laws regulating copyright, pornography, gambling, alcohol and drugs. This is particularly important if you are hosting other websites because your hosting company could be held responsible for criminal activity perpetrated by your users, especially if you were aware of that activity.
With so many regulations and laws to consider, it might be a good idea to talk with some experts in the industry and, if you can afford one, an attorney. A lawsuit or even criminal prosecution can sometimes come when you least expect it. It is better to be prepared when it does.