Websites and internet services

If someone provides services through a website – such as online shopping, direct marketing or advertising – they are known as an Information Society Service Provider (ISSP).

This applies if they have a one-page website which they maintain themselves. It also applies if they have a very sophisticated website maintained by a professional web design company. And it applies to anything in between. 

If you believe that you have been unlawfully discriminated against by an ISSP, and the ISSP is established in the UK, you can bring a claim in the UK courts against the UK-based ISSP. You do not have to be in the UK, so long as you are in a European Economic Area (EEA) member state.

An ISSP must make sure:

  • That it does not allow discriminatory advertisements and information to appear on its website (whatever the advertisement is for).

    For example:

A local newspaper accepts an advertisement which says that jobs at a particular company are only open to people of a particular ethnic or national origin. The newspaper puts it on its website. The advertisement directly discriminates because of race, and the newspaper as well as the advertiser may be liable for discrimination: the advertiser as an employer and the newspaper as an ISSP.

  • That it does not accept requests for the placing of information that unlawfully discriminates against people because of a protected characteristic in using a service.

For example: 

An online holiday company established in the UK refuses to take bookings for shared accommodation from same-sex couples. A lesbian or gay couple could bring a claim for direct discrimination because of sexual orientation in the British courts regardless of whether the couple were in the UK or another EEA member state.

  • That it makes reasonable adjustments to make sure that its website is accessible to disabled people.


More information

Last Updated: 30 Dec 2014