Legal Action Continues on Website ADA Compliance

10/24/17

Plaintiff actions for non-ADA compliant websites have recently been targeting more credit unions throughout the United States. The need for credit unions to ensure their websites are meeting accessibility standards is growing.

We remain in a holding pattern when it comes to the Department of Justice (DOJ) issuing website accessibility regulations under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Waiting for these regulations is no longer an option with the continued threat of predatory lawsuits.

So, where do you get started? The WCAG 2.0 is a technical standard written for web developers. But there are a number of non-technical explanatory resources available on the consortium’s website as well. Additional resource links appear below, but you may want to begin with Easy Checks – A First Review of Web Accessibility.

Then move on to Tips for Getting Started with Web Accessibility, which includes:

  • Designing for Web Accessibility: Tips for user interface and visual design
  • Writing for Web Accessibility: Tips for writing and presenting content
  • Developing for Web Accessibility: Tips for markup and coding

The United States Access Board adopted WCAG 2.0 as its accessibility standard for federal agency websites in January 2017 (note: these are not DOJ Title II regulations for public entities — they’re on hold as well). So, it’s quite likely the DOJ will also adopt this standard for non-agency websites when it gets around to issuing Title III regulations for “public accommodation” websites.

However, please note that WCAG 2.1 is currently under development and is scheduled to be published as a standard some time in 2018.  So, these standards will be tweaked in the future. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to evaluate and create a plan of action for your website sooner rather than later to bolster your credit union against the recent flood of ADA web-related lawsuits.

Resources:

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

United States Access Board

Question of the Week

After receiving an IRS summons regarding a member’s financial records, how long do we have before we must release the records?

Generally, when issuing a third party summons, the IRS must meet certain statutory requirements and the credit union is prohibited from releasing the member’s financial records unless the IRS complies. Since the IRS is not required to provide a certificate of compliance, as a general rule, the credit union can release the records to the IRS 23 days after the summons is received.

However, there are exceptions to the notice/waiting period requirements. If an exception applies, the credit union does not have to wait before producing records. Here are the general exceptions:

  • A summons that is served on the person, or an officer or employee of the person with respect to whose liability the summons is issued.
  • A summons that is served to find out if records of the business transactions or affairs of a specific person have been made or kept.
  • A summons issued only to determine the identity of any person having a numbered account or similar arrangement with the credit union.
  • A summons issued to help in the collection of tax liabilities already determined.

The IRS is also permitted to issue a summons and review a member’s records without providing notice to the member. However, it must be determined by the court that there is reasonable cause to believe that giving notice may lead to attempts to:

  • conceal, destroy, or alter records relevant to the examination;
  • prevent the communication of information from other persons through intimidation, bribery, or collusion; or
  • flee to avoid prosecution testifying, or production or records.

Resources

26 CFR 301.7609-1

26 CFR 301.7609-4

Legal Briefs

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)

The NCUA held a public briefing on its 2018-2019 budget process and encouraged credit union stakeholders to provide the agency with comments. Comments can be submitted until Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.

The NCUA released its October Board Action Bulletin. During the October board meeting, the NCUA approved a final rule enhancing due process regarding the supervisory appeals process; approved a final rule providing uniform, comprehensive procedures to govern the agency’s regulatory appeals process; proposed a rule to reduce regulator burden for credit unions with assets of $10 billion or greater by removing some of the capital planning and stress testing requirements; requested information to be published in Federal Register on standardizing loan, deposit, and investment information collected electronically during examinations.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

CFPB Director Cordray wrote an article supporting the Bureau’s Arbitration rule.

The CFPB released its outlined principals for protecting consumers when they authorize third parties to access their financial data.

The CFPB updated its HMDA implementation tools.

The CFPB has updated its implementation page for the Mortgage Servicing rules to incorporate the changes made by its October 2017 interim final rule.

The CFPB is requesting feedback on its draft strategic plan for fiscal years 2018 through 2022.

Federal Reserve Board (FRB)

The FRB released the October 18, 2017 edition of the Beige Book.

The FRB released the discount rate meeting minutes from August 28th and September 20, 2017 meetings.

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)

The FHFA announced that is added a preferred language question to its redesigned Uniform Residential Loan Application. This change will allow borrowers to indicate which language they would prefer to communicate in, if they prefer a language other than English.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

The OCC issued Bulletin 2017-41, announcing the 37 key HMDA Data Fields that OCC, FRB, and FDIC examiners will use to test and validate the accuracy of HMDA data collected in 2018.

United States Treasury (Treasury)

The Treasury announced the release of a report, Fundamental Elements for Effective Assessment of Cybersecurity for the Financial Sector by the G-7 Finance Ministers.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

OFAC has updated the SDN list as of October 13, 2017. The last update prior to this was October 12, 2017.

Questions? Contact the Compliance Hotline: 1.800.546.4465; compliance@nwcua.org.

 

Posted in Compliance News, Compliance News.