Fair and clear ownership
Policy actions sorted A-Z.
Policy actions sorted A-Z.
Consumers are given information and the legal right to repair products they’ve bought, to reduce reliance on official service providers and to increase the longevity of consumer goods.
United States: The Copyright Office created an exemption (PDF) in laws against DRM circumvention for the purposes of repairing vehicles.
United States: The Fair Repair Act was put to the New York state legislature and would require manufacturers to supply information that could help people repair their devices. This law failed to get a vote.
iFixIt is a website that features repair tutorials for popular electronic devices.
The Restart Project organises real-world meetups where people are invited to bring in broken electronics and have them fixed by a specialist.
Documentation that outlines how products should be repaired could expose manufacturers’ trade secrets.
Self-repair may be outside the capability of non-expert consumers.
People have the right to pass on or delegate access to digital products and services after they die so that their digital legacy can be maintained by a trusted person. New organisations may be required to oversee this process.
Major social networks have mechanisms in place to deal with accounts after the user has died, for example, legacy contact on Facebook.
United States: Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Indiana, Oklahoma, Idaho and Nevada have laws governing access to the digital assets of the deceased.
Tom Steinberg proposes a digital public institution that handles the digital accounts of the deceased.
Part of a series of prototypes looking at what new services are possible through the General Data Protection Regulation, IF propose a guardian for digital identity, that will maintain digital accounts according to the wishes of the deceased based on Steinberg’s proposal.
Create legislation that is compatible across national borders, to ensure consumer rights are consistent where consumers purchase goods and services in a country other than the place they live.
Worldwide: ISO 12812 creates standards for mobile-based payments to allow cross-border operation.
European Union: The EU is pushing for a Digital Single Market, applying the concept of free movement of goods and people to digital services and online business. The European Commission is proposing closer co-operation in the enforcement of consumer rights.
Establish the legal concept of “digital personhood” so that rights afforded to people in the physical world are made applicable on digital platforms.
The right to privacy is a legal tradition found in many national and international laws. Establishing the concept of digital personhood would compel digital services to follow this convention for maintaining privacy in people’s online activities.
Duty of care is a common legal doctrine that requires reasonable care to be taken in activities that can cause harm. Application of this in digital services through digital personhood would ensure service providers took necessary measures by default to enforce this duty.
“Digital personhood” is not recognised universally, but we increasingly see hints of this as an approach: the OECD/G20 report “Key issues in Digitalisation” (PDF) raises the idea of a “digital impact assessment”, a concept that could be developed further to take into account the individual and collective impacts of digital.
Although treating consumers fairly should be an integral part of the good governance and corporate culture of all service providers, the digital aspects of this may not be taken seriously at a corporate level.
Create or update legislation around the fair use of copyrighted material. This should extend the personal use rights of consumers to apply to digital content. A lot of current copyright law around content is based on physical media; someone who purchases a DVD can lend it to another person. This concept of ownership is less clear with digital content.
Integration of Creative Commons licences into services like Flickr give consumers easy control over the terms of how the content they produce is shared, unlike services like Facebook and Instagram where terms and conditions set absolute rules on rights.
People have a right to return, repair or replace faulty digital products.
Digital content could still work after a refund has been issued.
Content providers could use anti-patterns to prevent people from exercising this right.
Consumer rights organisations can act where they believe people are being de facto forced to accept a change in the terms and conditions of a digital service.
Italy: The Italian Competition Authority have launched investigations into the mobile messaging app WhatsApp, over alleged violations of the Consumer Code. These relate to users being “de facto forced” into accepting new terms and conditions that allows data sharing between WhatsApp and Facebook, its owner. It also relates to unfair terms and conditions provisions like the ability to “unilaterally change contractual provisions” and other clauses favourable to WhatsApp.
Norway: The Norwegian Consumer Council streamed the reading of the terms and conditions from the 30 most common apps in Norway.
Consumers should be asked to renew their consent for data to be shared after a maximum period to ensure they are aware their data is being used and to provide an opportunity to reassess whether they want their data to be used.
United Kingdom: Information Commissioner’s Office have requested that the charities British Red Cross and Age International allow donors to review their opt-in consents every 12 months.
A recommendation by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations states that fundraising campaigns should refresh the consent they use to contact donors at least every 24 months.
Weak design patterns for renewing consent can be detrimental to the user experience of a service.
Difficult to persuade companies to refresh consent.
Digital service providers are bound to ensure that specific design criteria are met when requesting consent from users to ensure they have enough information to give meaningful consent.
United Kingdom: A Direct Debit mandate must be completed by the payer, using bank-approved wording that makes it clear they are setting up an ongoing authority for the merchant to debit their account. This involves a paper-based form, a telephone conversation with a format script, an online application approved by the bank.
Third party applications that use digital authentication platforms like Sign in with Twitter and Facebook Login have usage policies that require users to be redirected to Facebook or Twitter’s URL, where a standardised dialogue lays out what data is being shared with the third party application.
Subsidised devices or broadband connections are made available to increase the number of people who can access digital services and benefit from them as consumers.
United Kingdom: Supported by Microsoft, Get Online At Home offers subsidised desktop and laptop computers.
United States: Broadband service provider Comcast offers a combination of discounted broadband service, low-cost computers and free training under their Internet Essentials program.
China: Subsidies exist for farmers in rural areas of China to buy computers, to encourage economic activity in the country.
The One Laptop Per Child programme allows national governments to purchase custom-built, cheap laptops to enable children to learn digital skills. These devices have been distributed in the US, India, Mexico and Brazil.
Broadband subsidies could cause price increases for other customers.
The quality of subsidised devices or connections could be insufficient for basic needs, and/or tied to content providers.
The technology that governments procure could be outdated by the time these devices are delivered to citizens.