Politique des consommateurs

Consumer policy guidance on e-commerce

 

Latest update: 27 October 2014

To help boost trust in e-commerce, the OECD has released two sets of policy guidelines aimed to strengthen consumer protection in mobile and online payments and in the acquisition of digital content (such as e-books or streamed music). Both guidelines were developed in consultation with governments, civil society and key industry players, such as Apple, Facebook and Google, and have fed into the development of best practice guidelines in a number of countries (such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States).
 

Driven by the expansion of the Internet and mobile devices, digital content is the fastest growing e-commerce category and secure and easy-to-use e-commerce payments are key to enabling further growth. Spending on mobile apps could reach USD 61 billion by 2016 (up threefold from USD 18 billion in 2012), and spending on e-books, online news and information services could hit USD 16 billion by 2016 (USD 5 billion in 2012).  
 

While this has brought considerable benefits to consumers, including ready access to a wide range of high-quality products, often at reduced costs, it has also created issues that countries and business now need to address. In September 2014, for example, Google agreed to reimburse at least USD 19 million to US parents of children who unwittingly spent money online playing games. Apple settled a similar lawsuit earlier this year promising up to USD 32 million.    
 

The key recommendations in the policy guidelines include:
 

  • Children: Businesses and governments should implement measures to prevent children from being able to purchase in-app products without parental consent, for example when playing games online. Advertising should be clearly identifiable as such, and apps should be clear about charges that might be incurred by children.
     
  • Privacy: Businesses and governments should implement measures to ensure consumers have appropriate knowledge about how their personal data will be collected, used and shared with third parties. Sensitive data such as geo-location, health or financial information should be the object of express consent.
     
  • Legal uncertainty, within and between countries: Existing measures offer different levels of consumer protection within countries, depending on what is bought online (a physical versus a digital product, for example) and how the acquisition is made (by credit card versus by payment by SMS or MMS, for example).  In addition, differences in consumer protection between countries create legal uncertainty that hampers cross-border e-commerce.

The OECD argues these barriers to the development of e- and m-commerce need to be addressed in order for consumers and business to benefit.

 

 

Related Documents

 

Protecting and Empowering Consumers in the Purchase of Digital Content Products

Report on Consumer Protection in Online and Mobile Payments

 

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