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EC spells out digital rights for consumers

Ian Grant

Consumers have a new guide to their online rights from the European Commission, which today launched the eYouGuide,

The guide is a new online tool giving practical advice on consumers' "digital rights" under EU law. It addresses issues like consumer rights towards broadband providers, shopping on the web, downloading music and protecting personal data online and on social networking sites.

The guide is to build consumer confidence in online activities, said communications commissioner Vivane Reding. This was holding back the development of the e-commerce market, now worth €106bn.

Almost half of Europe has a broadband internet connection, but only 12% feel confident transacting online, said a new Eurobarometer survey. It also found 39% of EU internet users have major doubts about safety, and 42% do not dare carry out financial transactions online.

Two out of three EU internet users do not know where to get information and advice about cross-border shopping in the EU. A third of consumers would consider buying online from another country because it is cheaper or better, but only 7% actually do so.

The eYouGuide explains the concrete rights of European consumers surfing the web or shopping online, When online, European consumers have a right to

  • Clear information about prices and conditions before making a purchase
  • Decide if and how their personal data is treated
  • Delivery sent in 30 days after purchase
  • A "cooling-off" period of at least seven working days after purchase during which they can change their mind
  • A minimum two year guarantee on products purchased
  • Protection against rogue vendors, unfair contractual terms and commercial practices.

All these rights apply on any website that ends with the suffix .eu.

The commission also identified eight priority areas for possible EU action:

  • Combating spam
  • Multi-territorial licensing regimes for online content
  • Copyright certainty
  • Protection against downloaded malware
  • Guaranteed online privacy policies
  • Better online accessibility for the disabled
  • Better protection for online payments
  • A European system of trustmarks for retail websites

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