Digital technologies create new opportunities for consumers, but also make upholding their rights more challenging. Digital products and services often come with usage restrictions about which consumers are not well informed. Online transactions often cross borders, making it difficult to resolve complaints, or even to know what consumer laws and policies apply. How can consumers in the digital age be assured that their rights will be upheld?
Last year's ITU WCIT conference inflamed the community's fears of the extension of intergovernmental control over the Internet. Whilst this fear was legitimate, an over-emphasis on the ITU can obscure the fact that the Internet is already controlled in undemocratic ways - often by governments, through both national and global processes, but also by corporate interests. It also obscures the fact that government action is sometimes necessary to uphold the rights of Internet users, just as government inaction can sometimes support their freedoms.
My name is Romain Houéhou, from the African ICT Consumer Network, and also representing Consumers International today. Consumers International is the worldwide federation of consumer groups with 220 members in 115 countries.
The opportunities and challenges that face consumers in today's online digital environment raise a range of new issues for the global consumer movement. For example, products that were once sold as goods, are now packaged as digital services, lacking many of the incidents of ownership that consumers expect. They are often delivered over broadband networks for which there are no uniform consumer protection standards. Many of t
Consumers International and the African Copyright and A2K Project (ACA2K) this week held a successful workshop looking at the Global State of Copyright and Access to Knowledge at the 2009 meeting of the multi-stakeholder United Nations Internet Governance Forum in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. The session was moderated by Dr Bassem Awad from ACA2K, who is also Chief Judge at the Egyptian Ministry of Justice.