AddToAny

Consumer protection

Updates

23 Feb 2017

The European Council has agreed to a new draft for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. The regulation should provide more concrete measures for national authorities when dealing with consumer issues, and establish mechanisms among these authorities in member states to act collectively on these matters. The regulation is currently undergoing a procedure of adoption. The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament (IMCO) has announced a vote on its position on 21 March 2017.

16 Feb 2017

Аs part of a campaign for protecting consumers’ rights in the US, five public interest groups called on the Federal Trade Commission to take a number of steps to protect consumers, and promote competition and innovation. The suggestions state that the FTC must enforce existing consent orders; it should incorporate public comments on proposed settlement agreements; it should mandate fair information practices in consumer privacy settlements; it should promote transparency; it should seek greater authority to protect American consumers; it should bring more actions based on ‘unfairness’ authority; it should oppose mergers that consolidate user data and threaten privacy; it must produce concrete outcomes from Commission workshops; it should enforce the Privacy Shield and COPPA; and it must support the establishment of a Data Protection Agency in the US.

3 Feb 2017

As part of the US judicial bodies’ ongoing battle against deceptive and fraudulent marketing practices, the Office of the Attorney General for the State of New York has filed a consumer fraud complaint against Charter Communications, Inc. and Spectrum Management Holding Company, LLC with respect to its wireless Internet services. The complaint states that customers were receiving an Internet service of lower quality than it was marketed, and that this affected a large number of customers.

Pages

Consumer trust is one of the main preconditions for the success of e-commerce. E-commerce is still relatively new and consumers are not as confident with it as with real-world shopping. Consumer protection is an important legal method for developing trust in e-commerce. E-commerce regulation should protect customers in a number of areas, such as online handling of payment card information; misleading advertising; delivery of defective products.

A new idiosyncrasy of e-commerce is the internationalisation of consumer protection, which is not a vital issue in traditional commerce. In the past, consumers rarely needed international protection. Consumers were buying locally and therefore needed local customer protection. With e-commerce, an increasing number of transactions take place across international borders.

Jurisdiction is a significant issue surrounding consumer protection. It involves two main approaches. The first favours the seller (mainly e-business) and is a country-of-origin/prescribed-by-seller approach. In this scenario, e-commerce companies have the advantage of relying on a predictable and well-known legal environment. The other approach, which favours the customer, is a country-of-destination approach.

The main disadvantage for e-commerce companies is the potential for exposure to a wide variety of legal jurisdictions. One possible solution to this dilemma is a more intensive harmonisation of consumer protection rules, making the question of jurisdiction less relevant. As with other e-commerce issues, the OECD assumed the lead by adopting the 1999 Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of E-commerce and the 2003 Guidelines for Protecting Consumers from Fraudulent and Deceptive Commercial Practices Across Borders. The main principles established by the OECD are still valid and have been adopted by other business associations, including the International Chamber of Commerce and the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The EU offers a high level of e-commerce consumer protection and promotes awareness campaigns on online shopping issues. The problem of jurisdiction has been solved via the Brussels I Regulation, which stipulates that consumers will always have recourse to local legal protection. The recast Brussels I Regulation, applicable as of January 2015, further harmonises the rules of jurisdiction by extending the situations under which individuals not domiciled in the EU can be sued by consumers in the courts of EU member states.

More than half of EU consumers (53%) made at least one purchase online in the 12 months to September 2012, almost doubling since 2006. Yet just 15% purchased online from vendors outside their own country. This is reflected in the confidence rating: while 53% feel comfortable purchasing from online domestic retailers, only 36% feel comfortable buying online from another EU country.

At global level, no apposite international legal instruments have been established. One of the most apt, the 1980 UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, does not cover consumer contracts and consumer protection.

A number of private associations and non-governmental organisations also focus on consumer e-commerce protection, including Consumers International, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network, and Consumer Reports WebWatch.

The future development of e-commerce will require either the harmonisation of national laws or a new international regime for e-commerce customer protection.

Events

Instruments

Conventions

Judgements

Other Instruments

COMESA Model law on electronic transactions

Resources

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Papers

Personal Data Storage in Russia (2015)

Reports

Virtual Currencies and Beyond: Initial Considerations (2016)
Report on OTT Services (2016)
2015 In Retrospect (Vol. 4) (2016)
OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 (2015)

The GIP Digital Watch observatory is a service provided by

 

in partnership with

 

and members of the GIP Steering Committee

 




 

GIP Digital Watch is operated by