Benefit vs Risk in the new digital world

The Consumer and Public Interest Network (CPIN) of the BSI has adopted Digital as one of its 5 priority areas:

  • Safety
  • Vulnerability
  • Digital
  • Services
  • Sustainability

The major issues clustered around “the complex nature of digital ecosystems” with their capacity for great benefit and great harm are addressed in three  brochures available here. Artificial Intelligence as a CPIN representative quoted in the Human Factor brochure points out, raises practical and ethical issues for which we have no template. In a very fast moving market how can consumers and the laws and regulations that protect them keep up?

Vulnerability

The risks are multiplied in the case of vulnerable consumers. Physical, cognitive or personal circumstances can be exploited by hackers and scammers. The brochure focusing on Vulnerability makes the point that we can all fall into the vulnerable category if things go wrong unexpectedly – it is not a condition reserved for your granny. Flexibility and access are key here – with service providers being easily contactable and willing to suit process to the individual situation.

The Value of Standards

Standards can play a central role in developing products and services that inspire confidence and trust in consumers. The speed of development and innovation is such that traditional methods of checking goods and services after they have come onto the market are not effective. The consumer interest has to be built into the product from its inception and the work described in the Digital brochure “Privacy By Design” is a new dimension to standard-making that tackles this.

Consumer Principles Live On

It is comforting to note that even in this environment of rapid change that the traditional consumer principles which first saw the light of day back in the 60’s – the Kennedy era in the US – still are a template to inspire and guide consumer representatives. A modern tweak is the addition of sustainability to the originals

  • Access
  • Safety
  • Information
  • Choice
  • Redress .

Future Work with our Friends and Allies

The National Consumer Federation will continue to work with CPIN and BSI and our other friends and allies in the consumer movement to apply these principles in the work that we do. Watch this space for announcement of our next Congress towards the end of the year exploring these and other consumer issues of the day.

 

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