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Why fairer digital marketplaces is the theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2018

To mark World Consumer Rights Day 2018, Consumers International Director General, Amanda Long outlines why ensuring fairer digital marketplaces is such an important issue and what Consumers International members are doing around the world to call for a #BetterDigitalWorld.

E-commerce has transformed the world for consumers, giving people more choice and convenience and revolutionising the way we buy and sell goods. Global retail e-commerce sales are set to more than double between 2017 and 2021, to $4.48 trillion and reach new markets as more people come online. Online shoppers are buying across borders too – meaning cross border collaboration on ecommerce, and the digital marketplaces where it takes place, is essential to address any issues that arise. 

This is why Consumers International chose making the digital marketplaces fairer as the theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2018.

So, what are the main issues and what are we calling for?

Strong, safe and secure internet access is essential to be able to shop online with confidence. That is why on World Consumer Rights Day many consumer organisations will be calling for better access to the internet. Currently only half of the world’s population have internet access, making accessing digital marketplaces impossible.

Despite the benefits and convenience of online retail many simply don’t trust it. In fact half of the people with internet access who choose not to shop online, say it is because of a lack of trust. Trust in these platforms might be lost through unexpected and unwarranted costs, illegal and fraudulent scams or unfair, unclear and confusing business practices.

To address this lack of trust it is vital authorities take action to prevent scams. But legislation alone will not solve these problems. Companies also need to take responsibility for how they sell to consumers. They must have clear terms and conditions, fair pricing and good redress procedures.

This is why this World Consumer Rights Day we are calling for, not only, more access to digital marketplaces, but for more access to trusted digital marketplaces. Only with consumer trust built into these systems will e-commerce truly deliver on its enormous potential for consumers.

Member activity

Across the globe our members will be using the day to call for action on issues important to the consumers in their countries.

Here are some examples, the Hong Kong Consumer Council is turning the spotlight on online security and data protection in its CHOICE magazine with  articles on issues like the use of personal data by taxi apps and online shopping complaints.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) are campaigning for effective redress and complaints handling online, data protection legislation, and access to affordable internet for all. Less than half the population of Zimbabwe has access to the internet, and 1GB of mobile data costs over $30, compared to around $5 in South Africa.  They are holding an event to bring together government, regulators and service providers to explore how these issues can be tackled.

The Consumers Union of Finland have launched a bespoke Twitter account to keep consumers informed about online scams and fraud.

At the University of São Paulo, IDEC are organising an event on the Data Protection Draft Bill, currently under discussion in Brazil. Activists and students are gathering to discuss what a personal data bill built for the public could mean, the state of the draft bills and the impact on consumers.

Today in Yemen, YACP will be hosting a talk on e-commerce in partnership with the Minister of Industry and Trade. They are also raising awareness of how to shop safely online.

View our World Consumer Rights Day live blog and interactive map to see how more of our members are highlighting these issues and calling for action in their own countries.