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Rochefort: "EU must fight against unfair commercial practices on the internet"

Soazig de la Moissonnière

Robert Rochefort condemns unfair commercial pratices on the internet and provide guidelines to fight them. His report has been adopted today at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg. He asked for a new legislative tool to regulate misleading advertising and other unfair practices in business-to-consumer transactions. The non-legislative report urges Member States to further efforts in this regard and underlines the necessity of an enhanced cooperation between national authorities in the EU’s consumer protection network for cross-border enforcement and cooperation (CPC). Interview with the French newspaper Le Parisien.

Le Parisien - What are those online practices you are condemning?

Robert Rochefort - There are a lot and they are pernicious. Each consumer, on a daily basis, is biased by these false offers in e-mails we receive. Fake product comparisons, companies pretending to be independent while they are networking with others, consumer reviews under the name of “Catherine Smith” actually written from scratch by companies, or companies that claim to have signed codes of conduct, charters that have nothing official. I also mean misleading environmental allegations that claim that such product is “good for the environment”, or IP tracking.

What is IP tracking?
These are the sites that modulate their prices based on the IP address. This address is the virtual identity card of each user on the Net. For example, on a given day, air tickets are available at 500 €. The next day, the user realizes that the ticket prices jumped.

What are the stakes?
We must fight against all these frauds on the Internet that are existing throughout Europe. They distort consumer behaviour who is not equipped to cope with that. Today, people buy more and more online. They will even take quotes or recommendations by typing the product name in their search engine before going in store.

What guidelines do you propose?
We must legislate and work quickly in the treatment of these cases. I propose to implement mediators for consumers who have been lured. Or using a class action at European level. This measure echoes the French consumer law proposed by Minister for the Social Economy Benoît Hamon.

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