Marketers try to dilute new EU internet rules

Marketers are pressing for changes to proposed Europe-wide rules which they claim will cause advertisers to shun the internet.

Marketers are pressing for changes to proposed Europe-wide rules

which they claim will cause advertisers to shun the internet.



They believe the proposals will become a nightmare for companies, which

will have to ensure that what they offer conforms not only to the laws

of their own countries but to those of all 14 other EU member

states.



The controversy is the result of the European Commission’s newly

published directive on electronic commerce transactions.



After pressure from European consumer organisations, the commission has

tightened up earlier proposals which would have made companies

advertising on the internet subject to the laws of the country where

they are based, rather than those in which their services are

received.



Now, the revised directive allows dissatisfied consumers who buy via the

internet to have recourse to their own national consumer protection laws

and national courts if an advertiser has not met its contractual

obligations.



Britain’s Direct Marketing Association is urging the Department of Trade

and Industry to help change the proposals. And the Federation of

European Direct Marketing Associations has protested to the

commission.



’There will be a lot of fraught discussions over these proposals,’

Lionel Stanbrook, the Advertising Association’s deputy director-general,

said.



’Not only will they make it very difficult to sell anything via the

internet but they’ll allow the lawyers to do very well out of them.’



Leaders of the direct marketing industry argue that, instead of giving

consumers added protection, the proposed rules will end up giving them

more limited choice.



Colin Fricker, the DMA’s director of legal affairs, said: ’Consumer

organisations do not fully understand the implications of these

proposals. In the long term, consumers will be prejudiced by them. The

fact is that there are European laws already in place which give

adequate protection.’



The DMA fears that the rules, if enacted, would result in self-enforced

trade restrictions and would have a serious effect on small direct

marketing operations unable to deal with 15 different legal systems.



One solution being mooted by the DMA is to make it possible for a

customer responding to an internet ad to call up the relevant consumer

protection laws of the advertiser’s home country translated into their

native language.



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