Consumer policy

Consumers in the Digital Economy


Business-to-consumer ecommerce has evolved dramatically since its birth in the late 1990s, putting consumers on centre stage. Consumer ratings and reviews not only shape the buying experiences of other consumers but also affect business reputation and product development. The line between businesses and consumers is further blurred by the financial opportunities opened to consumers to sell, rent, and perform tasks for other consumers through Internet platforms. Such online activity generates a wealth of data used to sketch rich consumer profiles which have become core to ecommerce business models but also brings risks.

Enhancing consumer trust remains a cornerstone for success in a dynamic and complex e-commerce marketplace. On 24 March 2016, the OECD revised its Recommendation on Consumer Protection for Ecommerce, modernising its approach to fair business practices, information disclosures, payment protections, unsafe products, dispute resolution, enforcement and education. The revisions built upon preparatory work that included specific policy guidance on mobile and online payments and intangible digital content products, released in 2014. Protecting digital consumers was a key theme at the OECD Ministerial on the Digital Economy, which took place on 22-23 June 2016, in Mexico.

© Rawpixel

E-commerce guidelines



The Internet is providing consumers with exciting opportunities to purchase an expanding range of products from a large number of suppliers, at lower prices. Enhancing the benefits of e-commerce for consumers will require maintaining an environment in which consumers have trust. 

Countries should modernise their consumer protection laws to address new risks posed by online commerce, including “free” apps and peer-to-peer Internet transactions, according to new OECD guidelines for member countries and emerging economies.

See the Recommendation on Consumer Protection in E-commerce (disponsible en français and japanese) ¦ Read the press release.


2014      Digital Content Products guidelines

2014      Mobile and Online Payments Guidelines

2008      Online Identity Theft guidance

2007      Mobile commerce guidance

2006      Anti-spam toolkit

1999      1999 E-commerce Recommendation 


E-commerce trends and challenges 

Technological advances and market pressures have made telecommunications and ICT products and systems increasingly complex. Mobile providers are offering ever more sophisticated products and services. Though consumers take the full advantage of this developments they face problems of switching, fees, analysis of offers, etc. The OECD investigates how consumer policies could be ammended and encourages its member countries to take appropriate actions.


2016   Protecting Consumers In Peer Platform Markets
2015 Policy Resources related to Internet Governance- An OECD website
2013  Digital Content Products analysis

Online and Mobile Payments Analysis

Digital Content workshop report


Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Internet Economy 

Online Identity Theft analysis


Telecommunications: Assessment of Consumer issues

Enhancing Competition in Telecommunications: Protecting and Empowering Consumers Report on Mobile commerce

2007 Mobile commerce
2003 Consumers in the online Marketplace: the Guidelines Three Years Later


Copy control and digital rights management

Illegal copying and unauthorised distribution of digital works has intensified in everyday consumer products such as audio CDs, DVDs, and e-books. Copyright holders wish to prevent any unauthorised use. Both international and national legal copyright instruments provide protection for copyrighted material and remedies against their circumvention.


 2006        Report on Disclosure Issues Related to the Use of Copy Control and Digital Rights Management Technologies

Cardholder protection

Many active Internet users remain unwilling to purchase goods or services over the Internet. Being aware of security and privacy problems, they hesitate in launching their financial details into cyberspace. The OECD Committee on Consumer Policy (CCP) has worked in the past on a number of issues relating to consumer protection in online payments.


Related Documents