IDP2014 (XI). e-commerce and consumer protection

Notes from the 10th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: A decade of transformations, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 3-4 July 2014. More notes on this event: idp2014.

Chairs: Miquel Peguera. Senior Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).

Electronic contracts with customers. Transposition to the Spanish regulation of the Directive 2011/83/UE of the European Parliament and Council
María Dolores Palacios González. Profesora Titular de Derecho Civil de la Universidad de Oviedo.

The modification of the Spanish RDL 1/2007 de 16 de noviembre, by the new Law 3/2014 de 27 de marzo with the aim to transpose the Directive 2011/83/UE on electronic contracts with customers has changed many of the conditions in the procedures of a contract such as the right to inform the customer, their right to cancel the contract, and the duties of the seller to deliver.

Though the aim of the Directive is the harmonization of the digital market, it does not seem that there will be an increase in contracting through the Internet, neither at the national nor at the international levels. We believe that this still depends more on sociological or psychological factors rather than on the regulatory framework.

Competitiveness, privacy and customer protection as pillars of the European common digital market.
Ramon Miralles, Coordinador de Auditoria y Seguridad de la Información. Autoridad Catalana de Protección de Datos.

If Europe needed a unique market, it was time to act and to have a roadmap. That was the idea behind the Digital Agenda for Europe.

Privacy and, especially, trust in the system were top priorities.

One of the problems of Europe is that it reacts very slowly.

It seems that the new trends in e-commerce will be determined by privacy and trust. Data protection, consumer protection and competition could be the core policies in e-commerce in Europe.

News in the right to information of the customer in electronic contracts
María Arias Pou. Directora de ARIAS POU Abogados TIC. Coordinadora de la Comisión de Menores de APEP. Profesora de Derecho de las Nuevas Tecnologías de la Universidad Europea de Madrid.

The new Directive on the rights of the customers implies some changes in the right to information of the customer in electronic contracts. Changes that, at their time, change again along the whole process of transposition to the Spanish regulatory framework.

The problem is that the regulation that applies is disperse, with three scenarios: a contract with a customer, at a distance, online. This mess actually challenges the principle of ‘minimum information’, which becomes worse when it has to be accessed through mobile devices during the process of informing the customer.

Breach of information duties in the B2C e-commerce. A comparative study of English and Spanish law
Zofia Bednarz. PhD candidate, Law Faculty, University of Málaga, Spain.

Electronic commerce plays nowadays a crucially important role in both professional and private activity of European consumers and businesses. The precontractual information duties are one of the factors that distinguish online contract formation between businesses and consumers from other ways of selling goods and services. The rules that apply to the e-commerce in the scope of the European internal market originate in two different legal systems, that is in the European law and in the national law. The aim of this study is to analyse and compare remedies available to consumers in the case of breach of information duties by the trader. The traditional contract law of Spain and England offers various remedies for not providing the other party with the due information. The interest in comparing those legal systems lies in the possible high number of cross-boarder transactions and the different nature of common and continental law. Even though the European legislation imposes numerous information duties, usually the remedies available for breach of those duties are left to the Member States’ internal law, and therefore the analysis of the remedies available in the internal national law results necessary. The remedies that will be analysed and compared in this study are, under English law, misrepresentation, fraudulent, negligent or innocent, mistake, breach of statutory duty and breach of contract, and in what refers to Spanish law, remedies for vices of consent, for culpa in contrahendo, and for breach of contract.

Internet of things and protection of the customer oriented to machine-to-machine processes
Jose Manuel Pérez Marzabal. Abogado. MTNProjects.com. Consultor UOC.

How do we protect customers in the so-called Internet of Things? Is our regulatory framework prepared for the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things will challenge matters of privacy, or (technological and personal) security. An imbalance in how we solve these challenges may incur in power imbalances. There is a growing risk of firms can take advantage of some procedures to abuse the customer.

The Internet of Things presents three main scenarios of added value: sensors, apps and cloud computing services. Depending on where business happens, regulation will necessarily have to adopt.

We need codes of behaviour and governance for application platforms.

10th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2014)

7th Internet, Law and Politics Congress (IV). Net Neutrality: communications

Notes from the 7th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Net Neutrality and other challenges for the future of the Internet, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 11-12 July 2011. More notes on this event: idp2011.

Track on Net Neutrality
Chairs: Rodolfo Tesone Mendizabal, President of the SDTIC (Information and Communication Technology Law Section at the Barcelona Bar Association)

Helena Nadal Sánchez
Without Net Neutrality, where then the universal logic of innovation?

Postmodernism is based on neo-liberal ideologies that do not acknowledge the lockean concept of (necessary, public) control, or the habermassian concept of the agora, the place to meet and share insights and knowledge.

A sustainable development of the Internet should be agreed. Knowledge societies cannot be built if knowledge does not flow freely. The basis of innovation is not only talent, but the exchange of knowledge.

David Arjones Giráldez
Net Neutrality from the perspective of its layer-based architecture: from public carriers to content managers?

The layer-approach to define the Internet is based on splitting it in different layers, at least three: physical layer, logic layer, content and services layer. There are three principles:

  • Each layer must be fully regulated in its own.
  • An agent in a layer must not operate in any other layer.

  • Regulation must be layer-aimed. A specific rule can apply to many of them, but they should not be designed with this goal in mind.

Within this framework, the problem of Net Neutrality can be approached different than usual.

For instance, if operators are tampering on content or services, they are going against the rule where agents cannot operate in but one layer.

Thus, the saturation of the network can be solved with a layer-based new pricing model, but without altering the rest of the layers.

Cristina Cullell March
Net Neutrality and freedoms in the telecommunications reform in the European Union: are they present in whole Europe?

The La Rue report (PDF, 140Kb) for the United Nations (May, 2011) states that access to the Internet should be as a fundamental right. How is Europe treating this right?

Key aspects of Net Neutrality that the EU has already include in their directives:

  • Freedom of choice.
  • Transparency.
  • Quality of service.

European institutions before Net Neutrality:

  • The European Commission thinks an open Internet is a major concern. Indeed, it guarantees the “freedoms on the Internet” of the European citizens, and informs the Council and the Parliament.
  • European Parliament links Net Neutrality with Digital Rights.
  • ORECE: member states are responsible for guaranteeing the neutrality in their territories. Guarantees the normative coherence and harmonization in the European Union. It publicizes good practices.

Does the EU require a complementary regulation on Net Neutrality? Surely we have to work harder on defining transparency and in setting a minimum threshold for quality of service.

José Manuel Pérez Marzabal
Open Internet, Net Neutrality and defence of the competence

There is some overlapping, a symmetry between antitrust regulation and the telcos regulation. And even if maybe the debate around Net Neutrality is not be a debate on the telecommunications’ market competition, more market competition undoubtedly favours major degrees of neutrality.

Clara Marsan Raventós
The Net as a public space: Is Net-neutrality necessary to preserve on-line freedom of expression?

It’s increasingly difficult to think about things one cannot do on the Internet. As a space, people are used to meet in that “space” regardless on who is actually providing the technological platform, only aiming at not being banned or filtered on that public space.

So, as a public space, the Internet becomes more important and the management of the information that populates is becomes a crucial aspect for the society.

Of course there are limits operating on the Internet, as public morality… as anything that already operates in the physical world. The problem being that while the Internet is truly global, such a thing as public morality is exclusively local, cultural, social.

The, which are the actors that can control the Internet and who can say whether public morality should or should not be an issue in the Internet?

There already is a vast array of tools that can be used for censoring content on the Net. And worst of all, those are tools that are decentralized and can be applied at different levels of the chain of content transmission. As tools are widespread, so are the different actors that can apply them in their processes.

Negotiation must then be a multistakeholder one.

7th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2011)