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section heading icon     overview

This guide explores consumer protection and consumer activism in the digital environment. It points to online consumer issues, initiatives, legislation, industry codes, government agencies and advocacy bodies.

subsection heading icon   
contents of this guide

The following pages cover -

  • principles - the shape of consumer protection and competition policy
  • pasts - the evolution of consumer protection, from supervision of weights & measures to product safety law and restrictions on unconscionable marketing
  • regimes - the interaction of law, government agencies, industry codes, business and consumers
  • online - a snapshot of online consumer issues
  • global - legislation, codes of practice and emerging standards, including the EU 2000 Electronic Commerce Directive and 1980 UN Convention for the International Sale of Goods
  • Australia - the shape of federal consumer protection in Australia, including major legislation and policy tensions
  • states - consumer protection in the Australian states and territories
  • Europe - consumer protection regimes in Europe
  • elsewhere - consumer regimes in other parts of the world
  • industry - self-regulation principles, standards, practice and industry ombudsmen
  • agencies - Australian and overseas government consumer protection and competition policy agencies
  • advocacy -  industry and consumer advocacy groups in Australia and overseas
  • certification & standards -  commercial 'certification' services such as BBBOnline and TRUSTe
  • reports -  public and private sector reports and academic studies about online consumer issues
  • hot spots -  areas of online activity that are of particular consumer concern, including auctions, internet service providers and adult content
  • clickwrap - questions about click-wrap, shrink-wrap and performance
  • negligence - questions about responsibility and redress in loss of consumer data and other problems
  • warranties - are online warranties worth the electronic paper that they are written on?
  • expectations -  questions about consumer expectations and responses such education
  • trust, risk & performance -  questions about building and maintaining relationships online
  • activism - consumer activism and politics
  • cases - selected leading Australian cases
  • landmarks - some key events in consumer protection

Action by business, government and other organisations to meet consumer expectations of best practice - and exercise of care by consumers - is an integral part of life online, rather than a desideratum necessarily quarantined from "the real action".

A positive attitude to consumer concerns about the digital economy - some of which are clearly misplaced - is good sense, whether you are a business, government agency, educational institution or other entity.  As Australia's federal government found in 2000, with plans to sell ABN data, it is not enough to talk: you have to 'walk the walk' and show that you are committed to what you preach (and listen to the people who access your site).





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version of October 2006
© Bruce Arnold