US seeks standard worldwide ecommerce laws

The US Federal Trade Commission is investigating laws governing ecommerce in an attempt to find common ground between the world's governments.

The US Federal Trade Commission is investigating laws governing ecommerce in an attempt to find common ground between the world's governments.

In a report entitled "Consumer Protection in the Global Electronic Marketplace: Looking Ahead", published earlier this week, the FTC addresses the question of laws governing both the online buyer and vendor. It also attempts to define issues such as transactions between different countries and cross-border sales. The current situation is such that e-tailers may be held accountable to the laws of many countries. Most countries, however, abide by the country of origin rule, and dishonourable organisations may seek to establish business where consumers are least protected. The FTC report states that consumers should be aware of the benefits and disadvantages of cross-border purchases. It also encourages governments to work together to enforce the same protection. The report stated: "The FTC aims to pursue partial convergence of consumer protection laws. Common core consumer protections should be identified and partial convergence of laws should be pursued." Legislators on this side of the Atlantic have experienced turbulent times over the subtleties of consumer protection laws. A European Parliament committee recently voted to relax regulations on selling over the internet. This puts the Parliament in conflict with the European Council, which has been pressing for greater consumer protection.