The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is urging Web developers to take care that information on Web sites is not out of date.
Alan Ducret, the ACCC's Queensland regional director, believes it's an issue Web developers increasingly need to be aware of. "We think we've spotted something that is going to be a growing problem . . . but we think we've found it reasonably early and that's why we're trying to get the message across early . . . just to remind people that Web site gardening is important."
He said it was important Web developers ensured the information which was being placed on sites was up to date. Special deals and technical specifications were areas that he believes are particularly important.
"If they're going to be putting sites together for people who probably don't have much technical expertise, on either how to run a Web site or how to set one up, they should be thinking very carefully about how they present that material," Ducret said. "And if they're going to put stuff on the Web site that needs to be changed or eradicated over time, they should be making sure there are processes in place to ensure that it is done."
Ducret said it was important to make "absolutely clear" if information on Web sites was outdated. As an example, he suggests a media release about a special offer should specify the dates the offer will run for, with older releases placed in an archive folder. "Alternatively, weed it out altogether," he advises.
"I think the risk that faces a lot of businesses is that they will simply, by just not thinking about it, leave outdated material on the Web site in such a way that a consumer reading it will understand it to be current and that will be misleading and deceptive."
In a statement relating to the issue, ACCC chairman professor Allan Fels, said that unless a Web site clearly identifies material as outdated or historic, consumers may be misled into thinking the material is current. "Such material can lead to severe consequences under the Trade Practices Act 1974," Fels said.