Gateways to the Global Market

Consumers and Electronic Commerce

Information technology, especially the electronic network known as the World Wide Web, is changing the way that businesses and consumers interact. This expansive electronic network allows both businesses and consumers to transcend global barriers, gaining access to products and information in ways that were once unimaginable. However, travelling outside the realm of the terrestrial marketplace with its commercial and geographic restraints can also mean moving in an unpredictable environment without the security that traditional marketplace practices and consumer protection laws provide.

In March 1997, the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, along with the OECD Committee on Information, Computer and Communications Policy convened an international gathering of information technology policy experts, consumer advocates, business and government representatives. This report, based on this diverse gathering, examines ways to protect and empower consumers to make informed choices in this expanding global online marketplace.