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International study confirms that online providers have important shortcomings

A study conducted by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) has revealed that a large number of providers of online services incorrectly and incompletely inform consumers on the services or products they are offered.  This means that consumers do not know in advance what exactly they will get. Providers also offer terms and conditions that are difficult to understand for consumers. ICPEN has called on the service providers to improve their websites.  ICPEN is an international collaboration of consumer protection regulators with over 60 members globally.

Earlier this year, an international study looked into the general terms and conditions of hundreds of online providers, ranging from dating sites to educational services, video services, and app stores. The study showed that, on many points, these terms and conditions are incorrect and incomplete, for example on the use of personal data or contract adjustments. This undermines consumer confidence in the digital economy, and is detrimental to both consumers and businesses.

ACM's role

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) also participated in this study. ACM looked mainly into the provision of information to consumers in the different app stores. The study revealed that, among other findings, consumers in the app stores were not properly informed on what personal data was collected by apps, and what was done with this data. ACM will work together with Norwegian and UK consumer authorities to take action in order to solve these issues.

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