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The New Deal for Consumers: GDPR rebooted?

New Deal for ConsumersThe New Deal for Consumers (NDC) is an update to European consumer protection rules. The idea is to bring existing laws up-to-date and make them more in tune with the modern digital age.

You will recall that when GDPR was first introduced, there was general panic and a sense of impending doom. Fines for non-compliance were high and businesses had to adapt quickly. However, everyone buckled down and made the necessary changes.

So, what does the NDC involve and what will it mean for you? Let’s take a look at some of the detail.

Will UK businesses be included?

When you are talking about fines for breaches of up to 4% of annual turnover, it’s worth considering this point.

European Union member states have until 28th November 2021 to adapt their legislation to meet New Deal for Consumers demands. Following that, they must be incorporated into national law by May 2022. The Brexit process is still ongoing. That said, it looks like all that will end on the last day of 2020. If the transitional stage is not extended, there will be no legal reason for the UK to enact compliant legislation.

What’s in the new NDC package?

The New Deal for Consumers covers a range of measures. These range from transparency and pricing requirements to consumer protection.

Transparency and pricing.

The key points are:

  • Increased online transparency requirements. These include informing customers when they are offered a personalised price for purchases.
  • Special offer pricing will have to be referenced against the lowest price applied within a period of at least 30 days preceding the current reduction.
  • When allowing consumers to search for products or services, sellers must explain the criteria on which the search results are ranked.
  • Traders must also clearly disclose any paid advertising they use to achieve higher rankings.
  • The Directive on Consumer Rights will apply to digital content and digital services that are provided free of charge but in exchange for personal data.

Authenticity.

This covers a range of areas:

  • Traders must inform users on their website or application how they ensure reviews posted by consumers are authentic.
  • Online marketplaces must indicate whether the person offering a product or service on the marketplace is a trader or not.
  • If the product or service is offered by a consumer, the online marketplace must stipulate that EU consumer laws do not apply to the agreement between the consumer and the provider.
  • All this information should be easily accessible. Including it in the terms and conditions will not suffice.
  • Traders are prohibited from reselling tickets if they acquired the tickets by automated means. This could mean an end to instant sell-out for concerts and other events.

Improved consumer remedies.

This gives consumers increased protection. In effect, groups of consumers can take group action. They can also seek individual redress for unfair commercial practices. These can include compensation for damages or termination of contract.

How will UK businesses be affected?

new deal for consumersNo clarity has yet emerged on what an EU / UK trade deal will look like. or, indeed, if there will be one. In all likelihood, if a deal is concluded, it will include a requirement for compliance with the NDC.

In such a case, it will impact on all UK businesses selling digitally to consumers. If there is no deal or compliance does not form part of a deal, little changes. UK businesses will still need to comply if they wish to trade within the EU.

Conclusion.

Any EU / UK trade deal will be the determining factor for the impact of the New Deal for Consumers.

If compliance part and parcel of the package, the impact will be greatest. Every business selling directly to consumers will have to change. That will at the very least mean updating their websites and terms of business.

Mike O’Donnell, October 2020.

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