2010*50Years of Traineeships at the European Commission*

2010*50Years of Traineeships at the European Commission*
*Creation since 2006. From Paris, France. Fondatrice du "HUB EUROPEAN UNION", Morgane BRAVO* "United in diversity", that's the motto of the EU! *Mieux informer les citoyens UE! « So that Europe, as a global player, is not far from Europeans » * *Ancienne stagiaire (Blue Book) de la Commission Européenne, au Secrétariat Général. Bruxelles. * President & Founder HUB « DIGITAL DIPLOMACY» «DIPLOMATIE NUMERIQUE ». *‪Fondatrice HUB 



Monday, November 02, 2009

*De la nécessité de protéger le consommateur lorsque la consommation envahit la toile...*

***« Il est nécessaire de garantir aux consommateurs une protection plus forte pour leurs achats de services numériques, et plus particulièrement parce que les achats de marchandises se font de plus en plus sous forme numérique » déclare Monique Goyens, Directrice générale du BEUC, le Bureau européen des unions de consommateurs. « Qu'il soit nécessaire de renforcer la protection, cela reste à prouver, mais de toute évidence, elle doit être différente de ce qu'elle est aujourd'hui » réclame Natali Helberger du Département de droit de l'information de l'Université d'Amsterdam. Toutes deux participent à la Conférence sur les droits des consommateurs qui se tiendra à Stockholm le 4 novembre prochain. La conférence, dont l'hôte est Nyamko Sabumi, Ministre en charge de la protection des consommateurs, sera principalement consacrée à la manière dont la protection des consommateurs doit être conçue pour couvrir les achats à contenu numérique, tels logiciels, données, programmes anti-virus, jeux ou téléchargements de musique. (en anglais)
Is stronger consumer protection necessary when purchasing digital services, and if so, why?

Natali Helberger: "Digitisation has resulted in a plethora of new business models and new ways of offering digital content to consumers, e.g. in the form of downloading, streaming, viral marketing*, etc. Traditional consumer law is not always equally well prepared to protect consumers with respect to these new business models."

"As a result, a consumer who downloads a piece of music enjoys less protection than a consumer who buys a CD. Also, the needs of consumers in a digital economy differ from the analogue world: instead of too little information about products and services, consumers nowadays are often confronted with too much, or too little useful information. And while the traditional interaction between consumer and seller usually ends as soon as the consumer leaves the shop, providers of digital content services also interact with consumers and influence their behaviour after the purchase takes place, in the form of service customisation, for example, but also through the use of content control technologies, such as Digital Rights Management. Whether protection needs to be stronger remains to be seen; in any event it needs to be different."

Monique Goyens: "There is clear evidence from BEUC's member organisations that consumers are facing a variety of specific problems when purchasing digital content online. Products that do not work, a lack of interoperability with the advertised equipment and a failure to meet legitimate consumer expectations due to lack of pre-contractual information are frequent problems for consumers. Moreover, there is no online internal market for consumers due to the territorial restrictions often imposed by businesses, limiting the accessibility of foreign websites etc. In other words, detriment to the consumer in the EU is evident in this field and it is therefore necessary to ensure that consumers have stronger protection when purchasing digital services, especially given that more and more goods are purchased in digital format."
Do you have any ideas on how stronger consumer protection in this area could be devised?

NH: "One basic question in this context is: should we update existing rules and extend them to also cover digital content services, or should we develop sector-specific information law that is specifically geared towards the needs of the digital consumer. There are good arguments in favour of the former, but probably even better arguments in favour of the latter."

MG: "Let me first underline that there is no specific consumer protection at EU level in this area for the time being, and national legislation in the Member States seems to be quite diverse. In BEUC's opinion the proposed directive on consumer rights is indeed the place to tackle problems regarding interoperability, information requirements, unfair contractual terms, right of withdrawal, legal guarantees and remedies in relation to digital content contracts. Existing general principles on the sales of goods and services could be the foundation for future regulation, if tailored to the specific requirements and characteristics of digital products."
Do you see any obstacles to stronger consumer protection in this area?

NH: "Digital consumer law should serve the needs of the digital consumer and provide an adequate level of protection. The difficulty, however, is finding the right balance and not hindering service innovation and experimentation with new business models. Also, there is no single “digital consumer". The interests of digital consumers are heterogeneous and sometimes even conflicting. Accordingly, consumer law must leave sufficient room for individual preferences."

MG: "No, I don't see any obstacles to stronger consumer protection in the field of digital services, rather the reverse. I believe it will be good for both consumers and businesses as consumer protection will eventually lead to higher consumer confidence, to the benefit of both parties and the internal market as a whole."
What are your expectations of the Consumer Rights Conference in Stockholm? What do you want to see as an outcome of the conference?

NH: "I am very much looking forward to the conference and brainstorming together with excellent experts on the best approach to improving the situation of the digital consumer. The conference is an excellent opportunity to create further awareness of the issue of digital consumers and to provide useful input for the ongoing review process."

MG: "The Consumer Rights Conference in Stockholm is a great opportunity to place focus on the necessity of stronger consumer protection in the digital field and the obvious and appropriate approach to deal with this issue under the proposed directive on consumer rights. We are grateful that Minister Sabuni and her staff are stimulating discussion on this important subject, especially at such a crucial moment. I am looking forward to the conclusions of this conference, which I understand will be published soon after. And I am hoping that the conference will be the foundation for a future framework regulating digital content contracts."

*Viral marketing refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or product sales through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses.


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