01 October 1998

THE PROSPECT of EU legislation leading to an Internet Tower of Babel has created alarm among marketers from all member states. Proposals in the EC's recently amended draft directive on electronic commerce transactions require that all commercial transactions via the Net conform not only to the laws of the country in which they originate but also to those of all fourteen other EU states. The original draft required only that transactions conformed to the laws of the country of origin, but was later amended after lobbying by European consumer bodies. This means that consumers dissatisfied with an Internet purchase have recourse to their own national protection laws. The DMA has urged the DTI to oppose the changes while the Federation of European Direct Marketing Associations has protested to the EC. Lionel Standbrook, deputy director-general of the Advertising Association puts it succinctly: 'There will be a lot of fraught discussion over these proposals. Not only will [the EC] make it very difficult to sell anything over the Internet but they'll allow the lawyers to do very well out of them!'