FEDERATION OF EUROPEAN DIRECT MARKETING
Public Affairs & Self-Regulation
FEDMA RESPONSE TO THE
UNITED STATES FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION NOTICE:
US PERSPECTIVES ON CONSUMER PROTECTION
IN THE GLOBAL ELECTRONIC MARKETPLACE
26 MARCH 1999
The Federation of European Direct Marketing (FEDMA) welcomes
the opportunity to respond to the Federal Trade Commission Notice "US Perspectives on
Consumer Protection in the Global Electronic Marketplace". The debate on how best to
provide consumer protection, or to put the issue in another way, how to encourage trust
and confidence and empower the consumer to make the right, well-informed choices in the
global electronic marketplace, is in full swing in Europe as well as the USA. Different
emplois and in some cases different arguments are to be found, and we therefore hope our
views below will contribute positively to the debate.
FEDMA represents the direct marketing sector at European level. Its national members
are 16 Direct Marketing Associations (DMAs) representing users, service providers and
media/carriers of direct marketing. FEDMA also has 550 direct company members. The direct
marketing sector represents an expenditure of over 27 billion ECU and employs over 500,000
people directly, and many more indirectly, within the EU.
that online shoppers know who they are dealing with, where the vendor is located and what
exactly they are agreeing to;
2. on-line businesses must
be legally obliged to respect basic consumer rights just as other businesses;
3. clear distinction between
commercial and editorial messages;
4. effective complaint and dispute resolution
procedures for consumers, both within organisations and outside them, consumer recourse to
the laws and courts of their home country, in the event of unresolved disputes with
foreign vendors. This goes side by side with the recognition and enforcement of judgements
with respect to international consumer transactions
2. http://www.poliseurope.org/basic/global_elec_mark_uk.html AND http://126.96.36.199/consumers/news/pressreleases/electronic071098.html
4. UK Office of Fair Trading at: http://www.oft.gov.uk/html/consume/consume.htm; Spanish National Consumer Institute at: http://www.consumo-inc.es/).
5. For example, the ICC Advertising Code, article 11, which is
fully applicable to on-line activities states: "advertisements should be clearly
distinguishable as such, whatever their form and whatever the medium used; when an
advertisement appears in a medium which contains news or editorial matter, it should be so
presented that it will be readily recognised as an advertisement. ICC Codes are available
7. "The cost of legal obstacles to the disadvantage
of consumers", June 1998. Available at: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/dg24/library/pub/index_en.html).
9. See, for example, Spanish Consumer Institute, web address above.
10. See, for example, in France: http://www.finances.gouv.fr/rentree_scolaire/bal_rentree.htm
12. We are not aware of an existing cross-border arbitration
15. The Explanatory Memorandum of the E-commerce Directive
includes an interesting survey of the costs of such legal assessment.
16. The proposal for a E-commerce Directive
clearly points out that "the internal market enables businesses, particularly SMEs,
to tailor their offers to specific niche markets in other Member States".