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Discussion paper

Consumer policy in the digital world

13 Mar 2007

The paper starts from the premise that digitalisation is challenging the parameters of consumer policy: guiding principles, confidence and competence, in particular with regard to participation, access and transparency. These parameters must be readjusted. The possible new risks are set off by new opportunities, opportunities for formulating policies and opportunities in the field of consumer trading. In order to try to understand these opportunities, the aim must first be to describe the phenomena of digitalisation. It is only on this basis that it will be possible to clearly show the challenges to society which digitalisation brings with it and to then state what consumer policy can and must do in a digital world. The traditional guiding principle of the weak consumer requiring protection is being reassessed by the policy-makers and the legal sector. The digitalisation of market and society give particularly clear evidence of the ambivalence resulting from a process of social transformation, resulting in both risks and new opportunities for consumers. The digital world calls for consumers who use the opportunities they are offered, who participate in shaping the changing world and who do not view themselves as victims of change.

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