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Code Of EU Online Rights - Some Welcome Direction Through A Complex Web Of Rules And Regulation

Code Of EU Online Rights - Some Welcome Direction Through A Complex Web Of Rules And Regulation

Jenny Baker

Online commerce requirements for compliance - a complex web of rules

For businesses providing services or selling goods online, the ever increasing and ever-changing amount of rules and regulation can be overwhelming.  From cookies, protection of customer details, restrictions on direct marketing, “cooling off” cancellation periods… it can be difficult to know where to begin.   
 
Code of EU Online Rights - the right place to start

A good starting point is the Code of EU Online Rights.  This was published at the end of last year by the European Commission as part of the Digital Agenda for Europe initiative (which aims to increase consumer confidence in a digital environment).  The Code consolidates the minimum rights of EU citizens using the internet and buying goods and services online. It does not create new rights, but pulls together existing rights and principles lifted from numerous pieces of legislation relating to electronic commerce, electronic communications, data protection and consumer protection.
 
The Code is split into three main sections:  (1) access and use of online services; (2) purchasing goods and services online; and (3) protection for the consumer in case of disputes.  It sets out fundamental rights of privacy and protection of personal data, as well as key information (and rights of delivery and cancellation) to be provided to consumers buying online.  Specific rights relating to disabled users and consumers of financial services are also included.
 
Useful links… click here to find out more  

The underlying purpose of the Code is to increase consumer awareness and confidence.  It is important to remember that the Code is a list of fundamental minimum rights only - it should not be viewed as a “one-stop” list of requirements needed to give effect to these rights in practice.  Although not enforceable in itself, the principles reflect legal requirements under the legislation from which they are derived and are a useful checklist.  Suppliers and website operators need to ensure they comply with applicable national laws.  However, the Code is a valuable reference point to identify areas where they may be lacking in compliance.  Helpfully, the Code contains reference throughout to relevant legislation.  
 
New year, time to press “refresh”  

The New Year may be a good time to check your practices and terms & conditions for compliance.  If you need support, our team would be able to carry out a “compliance audit” of your website and if necessary, provide advice and/or wording for terms and conditions and online processes.

Jenny Baker
Solicitor

LChalmers