Monday, 26 April 2010

E-commerce & consumers - OECD report

In 2009 the OECD’s Committee on Consumer Policy launched a review of the 1999 OECD Guidelines on Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce, following the 2008 OECD Seoul Ministerial meeting on The Future of the Internet Economy.

As part of this review, a conference on Empowering E-Consumers: Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Internet Economy was held on 8-10 December 2009, in Washington, D.C, USA.

A summary of the key issues and conclusions from the conference has now been released, with suggestions for future work provided by stakeholders to advance the review of the 1999 Guidelines.

From the report (emphasis added) - 

Summary of issues that could be addressed in the CCP review

Strengthening payment protection/mobile commerce: examining the effectiveness of mechanisms in protecting consumers from fraud and in providing consumers with adequate redress in payment systems (looking at the role that payment intermediaries play in that regard). Particular focus could be made on consumer challenges arising from payments systems in the mobile commerce area.
Behavioural advertising: exploring ways to enhance transparency in the collection, storage, sharing, and use of consumers’ personal information, in particular in the context of C2C transactions and social networking.
Contracts: exploring ways to enhance transparency and clarity; identifying unfair contract terms, with particular focus on contracts relating to the purchase of digital content products. A non-exhaustive list of typical unfair contract terms may be ultimately included in an Annex to the 1999 Guidelines.
C2C transactions: identifying trends, and consumer challenges, with a focus on the rights and responsibilities of all parties (including Internet intermediaries) involved in such transactions. The scope of the 1999 Guidelines, which is currently restricted to B2C transactions, could ultimately be expanded to cover C2C transactions.
Digital content products:
- Identifying the type of information needed by consumers to make informed choices in the purchase of digital content products. This would notably entail providing clear information on the restrictions of the usage of digital content products (including post-purchase restrictions).
- Developing adequate redress mechanisms for consumers.
- Exploring the consumer protection implications resulting from interoperability. A workshop could be organised jointly with the OECD’s Competition Committee in that regard.
Children: the work would look at the applicability of consumer protection laws to advertising targeting children, with particular focus on situations where children engage in participative activities, such as social networking.
Enforcement: Exploring ways to enhance consumer protection and other relevant agencies’ enforcement capacity, in particular at the international level. Co-operation with the ICPEN on this issue would be needed.
Cyber fraud: understanding further the trends and impact of cyber fraud in e-commerce. The scope of the 1999 Guidelines could be expanded to cover commercial and non-commercial illegitimate activities.

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