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Govt plans new e-crime protection for online shoppers

Rebecca Thomson

The government is gearing up to give e-consumers similar levels of protection over fraud and crime as high street consumers.

Consumer Affairs minister Gareth Thomas said the current system is designed to protect consumers on the high street.

But as the number of UK consumers who use the internet to buy goods grows, he said the government would move to improve protection.

An EU report on cross-border e-commerce showed 57% of people in the UK used the internet to buy goods in 2008, compared to a European average of 32%.

Thomas said, "Our current system is designed to protect the consumer who goes to a shopping centre or retail park. We need to create a regime that is fit to protect the consumer from modern fraudsters and criminals."

The government is due to publish a Consumer White Paper this summer, and it will focus on how to protect online customers.

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium said, "The government aims to target rogue internet traders, and our members, who are reputable traders, are keen to see this sort of thing driven out. It damages the reputation of online retailing overall. We welcome this is principle, but we haven't at this stage got anything in detail, so it's hard to know whether the measures they're planning are going to work."

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