3 July 2003

Expert Group to Review E-Commerce Best Practice Model

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Senator Ian Campbell, today announced a review of the Federal Government’s approach to consumer protection in e-commerce to ensure it remained at the highest international standards.

He said the Government’s revamped E-Commerce Expert Group, headed by the executive chairman of Wizard Financial Services, Mr Mark Bouris, would conduct the review (for membership see www.ecommerce.treasury.gov.au/html/expert.htm).

“The review comes at a time when consumers are increasingly viewing the Internet as an alternative means of shopping,” Senator Campbell said.

“The launch of the latest Harry Potter book bore this out. It was the biggest new product event in the history of e-commerce, with more than one million books reportedly sold online.”

Senator Campbell said this demonstrated the potential of the online medium when consumers had confidence in merchants, products and the system.

“We have to ensure that the Government’s approach to providing guidance to businesses in this area is relevant and effective,” he said. “The review of our existing best practice model will provide an opportunity to examine recent changes to the regulatory and market environments in which e-commerce operates.

“An important part of this challenge will be to address the consumer protection issues that arise from new Internet-enabling technologies such as mobile phones and hand-held computer devices.”

The E-commerce Expert Group, comprising industry and consumer professionals, developed the self-regulatory best practice model in 2000. It is based on OECD e-commerce guidelines and provides businesses with a guide to conducting commerce with consumers via the Internet.

Senator Campbell said consultation with industry and consumer groups would form an important part of the review process.

Building Consumer Sovereignty in Electronic Commerce – A Best Practice Model for Business can be accessed at www.ecommerce.treasury.gov.au.

3 July 2003

Contact: Wayne Grant 08 9421 175580