A “New Approach” to Standards and Consumer Protection

Abstract

As consumer use of information and communication technology (ICT) products grows, the importance of ICT standards in consumer markets also grows. While standards for manufactured products were once developed at the national level in formal standards bodies, standards for ICT products today are more likely to be developed by informal standards bodies that target global markets, creating new challenges for national consumer protection laws. As part of the process of creating a single market, the EU developed an innovative and successful form of “coregulation” known as the “New Approach” that coordinated the work of legislators and standards developers to reduce technical barriers to trade in the internal market. In order to protect consumer interests in markets for ICT products effectively, another “New Approach” is needed to coordinate the work of global ICT standard-developing organizations with the goals of national and regional consumer protection laws, but the institutional challenges facing such a strategy are daunting. The French DADVSI legislation represents progress in this direction; further progress may be possible by adopting “better regulation” strategies.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A list of thousands of standards consortia can be found at http://www.consortiuminfo.org, a Web site maintained by Andrew Updegrove.

  2. 2.

    The European Union standards bodies are the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), and the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI).

  3. 3.

    Loi no. 2006-961 du 1er août 2006 relative au Droit d’Auteur et aux Droits Voisins dans la Société de l’Information; parue au JO no. 178 du 3 août 2006, page 11529.

  4. 4.

    The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) adopted in Geneva on December 20, 1996.

  5. 5.

    Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

  6. 6.

    Conseil de la Concurrence, Décision 04-D-54 du 9 novembre 2004.

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Winn, J., Jondet, N. A “New Approach” to Standards and Consumer Protection. J Consum Policy 31, 459–472 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10603-008-9086-1

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Keywords

  • Standardization
  • Consumer protection
  • Information and communication technologies
  • Digital rights management
  • DADVSI