The Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce, approved on 9 December 1999 by the OECD Council, are designed to help ensure that consumers are no less protected when shopping online than they are when they buy from their local store or order from a catalogue. By setting out the core characteristics of effective consumer protection for online business-to-consumer transactions, the guidelines are intended to help eliminate some of the uncertainties that both consumers and businesses encounter when buying and selling online. The result of 18 months of discussions among representatives of OECD governments and business and consumer organisations, the guidelines have played a major role in assisting governments, business and consumer representatives to develop and implement online consumer protection mechanisms without erecting barriers to trade.
The guidelines reflect existing legal protection available to consumers in more traditional forms of commerce; encourage private sector initiatives that include participation by consumer representatives; and emphasise the need for co-operation among governments, businesses and consumers. Their aim is to encourage: fair business, advertising and marketing practices; clear information about an online business's identity, the goods or services it offers and the terms and conditions of any transaction; a transparent process for the confirmation of transactions; secure payment mechanisms; fair, timely and affordable dispute resolution and redress; privacy protection; and consumer and business education.
The guidelines are downloadable in pdf format in: