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Friday, November 13, 2009

Commissioner lays down a consumerist manifesto for 2011-15

Mme Reding's new speech emphasizes her consumerist credentials:

'The new rules state explicitly that fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens must be respected by Member States taking measures regarding use of services or applications via the telecoms networks. These measures must be appropriate, proportionate and necessary and in particular, they must respect the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. Let me list some of the concrete changes that will be introduced as a result of the reform.
  • A European consumer, while keeping the same number, will be able to change mobile operator within one day.
  • Under the new telecoms rules , consumers will receive better information to ensure that they understand the services they are subscribing to, what they can and cannot do and the corresponding contracts will have to be specific including reference to being listed in telephone directories.
  • The new rules will ensure that European consumers have an even greater choice of competing broadband service providers.
  • Net neutrality and net freedom as well new transparency requirements are part of the deal.
  • There will also be better protection against personal data breaches and spam...
With the unanimous agreement of the Parliament and of the Council, a strong signal was given to European citizens on internet freedom, consumer rights and consumer choice in the digital environment.'

and also speaks to the place of self-regulation and privacy for e-commerce:

'Privacy must, in my view, be a high priority for social networking providers and for their users. I firmly believe that at least the profiles of minors must be private by default and unavailable to internet search engines. The European Commission has already called on social networking sites to deal with minors' profiles carefully, by means of self-regulation. I am ready to follow this up with new rules if I have to. But only if there is no other way.... The Commission is closely monitoring the use of behavioural advertising to ensure respect for our privacy rights. I will not shy away from taking action where an EU country falls short of this duty. A first example is the infringement action the Commission has taken with regard to the United Kingdom in the Phorm case.'
But what place for trustmarks?
'The Digital Europe strategy could also give a new impetus to the development of a self-regulatory system for European websites to build consumer trust...The issue of trustmarks has been on the agenda for a very long time and I see very little progress towards a European system. That is why industry and consumer associations, I am thinking of the BEUC in particular, must get together to establish a sustainable European trustmark which, I believe, could give our users the confidence needed to "surf abroad" and profit from our large market online. The Commission stands ready to act, if needed.'
Legislation or a Communication to follow? Trustmarks have never taken off properly...

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