Sunday, 7 November 2010

Consumers and the big bad wolf (aka internet)

European Comission has recently been paying more and more attention to the fact that online contract law is not sufficiently regulated (that might have something to do with the European Parliament calling for more actions to increase e-confidence of consumers, read more: here). Most of the directives and regulations currently in force have been introduced back in 80's and 90' when internet commerce was just beginning to be developed and no one dreamed of the necessity to protect consumers who would start using this tool daily as one of the common means to conclude contracts. Moreover, cybercrime, like stealing identities, or marketing based on online preferences did not seem very profitable nor likely then. As a result, the laws protecting consumers online badly need an update.

A report on digital content services and how they are regulated in various Member States have been commissioned by the EU and is being prepared by the Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL) and the Institute for Information Law (IVIR) of the University of Amsterdam as we speak. There is a hope that after the national reports have been analyzed, the EU will see a need for an instrument and would introduce European level regulation of that sector.

A public consultation has also just started on the Commission's comprehensive approach on personal data protection in the EU. One of the issues raised is whether consumers/individuals have their personal data sufficiently protected online (e.g. the right to have their personal data permanently deleted after having them first submitted on a social networking site, the right not to have their personal data gathered while they are browsing online world by e.g. use of cookies).

If you want to take part in this public consultation (citizens, organisations, public authorities are encouraged to do so) you may contribute to it here up to 15 January 2011.

Also: BBC published an article 'EU aims to boost web privacy safeguards' by Ben Shore on Thursday, 4 Nov 2010 on the EC public consultation.

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