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.
- consumer protection
- information and communication technologies
- digital rights management