Consumers International welcomes the G20’s continued recognition of the importance of consumer trust in securing the future growth of the digital economy and their support for developing effective online consumer protection and empowerment with a particular emphasis on disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers including children. The work of the G20 helps to raise awareness of new and pressing issues and contributes to an international agenda that we can all contribute to delivering. Through the G20 Consumer Summits in 2017 and 2018, co-hosted by Consumers International and the German Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Argentinian Consumer Protection Agency respectively, we have been proud to contribute to this development and look forward to working with the Japanese presidency of the G20 in 2019.
In particular, Consumers International welcomes recognition in the Digital Ministers’ statement of the challenges that new technologies such as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence may pose in terms of privacy and security. These technologies are already integrated into many consumer products and services and are rapidly spreading into new markets. The speed of innovation and change makes it especially important that governments, industry and consumer groups work together to develop effective education and protection for consumers before they become more widespread. Our aim should be for the benefits to be delivered safely, with the trust and support of consumers. Only by working together can we avoid the damaging crises of data leaks, online fraud and manipulation of online news that undermine the benefits from previous waves of digital innovation.
Protecting children online
The G20 statement highlights the importance of protecting children online – this should be a priority for all governments, retailers and manufacturers and an issue Consumers International has raised through our #securetoys campaign. The G20 Consumer Summit that was co-hosted by Consumers International and the Argentinian Directorate for Consumer Protection in May 2018 included a focus on improving the privacy and security of children’s protected products and we look forward to working with G20 member states and business to support specific measures to implement this commitment.
Improving access and inclusion
Consumers International also welcomes the emphasis on improving access and inclusion by promoting infrastructure and initiatives to bridge the current gender gap in digital inclusion. Currently less than half the world’s population have access to the internet and women are disproportionately excluded from access to digital services. By including women more in the development of digital policy, products and services we are much more likely to realise an inclusive digital economy that will bring benefits for all.
Digital Index – policies to support consumers
Finally Consumers International looks forward to contributing to the G20’s new initiative to establish a repository of digital policies. With the support of the German Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection, Consumers International has already established a new Digital Index – an online database of more than 200 policies and initiatives to support consumers in the digital economy. This fully searchable international database is an excellent example of how a repository can be developed and we will look for opportunities to link this initiative with the G20 repository.