If, according to an ancient proverb, the eyes are the window to the soul, then in the parlance of 21st-century commerce, the website is the window with a clear view into a company. Regrettably, many company sites may be revealing international trade law violations that can result in significant civil and/or criminal penalties. All too commonplace are stories of U.S. government enforcement actions launched or fueled by information companies inadvertently provided on their websites. Just ask The Home Depot Inc., now targeted in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation and a whistleblower suit regarding alleged Buy American Act violations. Both legal actions were abetted by statements on the company’s site that certain products available for U.S. government customers to purchase under federal contracts were U.S.-made, when allegedly they were not. To avoid this embarrassment and potential liability—and reduce your own company’s overall exposure—a website audit is recommended to identify possible violations.
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