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 will be a key theme at the OECD Ministerial on the Digital Economy, which will be held on 22-23 June 2016, in Mexico.

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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) ¦ Read the press release.

Digital Content Products guidelines
Mobile and Online Payments Guidelines
Online Identity Theft guidance
Mobile commerce guidance
Anti-spam toolkit
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.
Digital Content Products analysis
Online and Mobile Payments Analysis
Digital Content workshop report
Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Internet Economy 
Mobile commerce
Online Identity Theft analysis
Consumers in the online Marketplace: the Guidelines Three Years Later
Telecommunications: Assessment of Consumer issues  
Policy Resources related to Internet Governance- An OECD website
Enhancing Competition in Telecommunications: Protecting and Empowering Consumers Report on Mobile commerce 

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.
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.
Report on consumer protections for payment cardholders


Related Documents