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, including privacy and security risks.

Enhancing consumer trust remains a cornerstone for success in a dynamic and complex e-commerce marketplace. In March 2016, the OECD revised its Recommendation on Consumer Protection for E-commerce, 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 June 2016 OECD Ministerial on the Digital Economy.

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E-commerce guidelines



2016   Revised Recommendation on Consumer Protection in E-commerce (also available in FrenchSpanish, Czech and Japanese

2014   Digital content products guidelines (also available in French)    

2014   Mobile and online payments guidelines

2008   Online identity theft guidance

2007   Mobile commerce guidance (also available in French)    

2006    Anti-spam toolkit (also available in French)    

1999    E-commerce Recommendation (revised in 2016)


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.


2017        Trust in Peer Platform Markets: Consumer survey findings

2016        Protecting Consumers In Peer Platform Markets

2015        Policy Resources related to Internet Governance

2013        Digital Content Products analysis

2012        Online and Mobile Payments Analysis (also available in French)    

2012        Digital Content workshop report

2009        Strengthening Consumer Protection in the Internet Economy 

2009        Online Identity Theft analysis

2008        Telecommunications: Assessment of Consumer issues

2008        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 (also available in French)    


Internet fraud

The development of Internet has facilitated the globalisation of markets and cross-border e-commerce but also taken Internet fraud to new levels. Consumers are at risk of identity theft, which threatens trust and undermines the growth of online commerce. The OECD has studied the issues and made recommendations to support work by governments to ensure that consumers are adequately protected from these threats.


2009        Online Identity Theft

2007        Recommendation on Cross-Border Co-operation in the Enforcement of Laws against Spam

2006        Report on the implementation of the 2003 Guidelines on Cross-border Fraud

2006        OECD Task force on spam: anti-spam toolkit of recommended policies and measures (also available in French)    

2005        Consumer Information Campaigns Concerning Scams     

2005        Implementation of the 2003 OECD Guidelines for Protecting Consumers from Fraud

2003        Protecting Consumers from Fraudulent and Deceptive Commercial Practices Across Borders


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.

Other related reports

2003        The importance of accurate and available WHOIS data (also available in French)  



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