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HP to Promote Online Consumer Protection

Hewlett-Packard said it will recommend that the Better Business Bureau OnLine program for consumer-protection on the Internet be adopted worldwide.

HP's online privacy recommendations will be one of nine major electronic-commerce issues addressed at the Global Business Dialogue on e-commerce (GBDe) in Paris beginning today.

"The future of business development and success relies on the growth of electronic commerce," said Franz Nawratil, vice president and managing director of HP's Europe, Africa and Middle East Operations.

"In turn, the success of e-commerce depends on consumer confidence, trust and effective redress on a worldwide basis."

HP and the GBDe steering committee are recommending that the Better Business Bureau OnLine (BBBOnLine) program be implemented on a worldwide basis.

Consumer rights and redress are covered by the BBBOnLine alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism.

Online dispute resolution is a field in which the BBBOnLine has valuable experience to offer and could be adapted effectively to cross-border trade, HP said.

Since 1997, the BBBOnLine Reliability Program has grown to more than 3,300 member companies.

"Consumers' desire for privacy varies both for individual, cultural and geographic reasons," said Nawratil.

"HP recommends that the GBDe build a unified approach to instilling consumer confidence across national borders and implement a comprehensive set of consumer-protection activities, including privacy and dispute resolution, which could apply wherever the consumer lives and the trader operates."

The BBBOnLine Privacy Program awards an easily recognizable and affordable online "seal" to businesses that post and adhere to online privacy policies and that meet the required core "principles," such as disclosure, choice, access, security and recourse.

The program provides a consumer-friendly dispute-settlement process; a distinct program to give added protection for children; and specific consequences for non-compliance, such as seal withdrawal, publicity and referral to government enforcement agencies.

Beyond online-privacy issues, the GBDe has been working on detailed proposals for nine issues of importance to the future of Internet trade: authentication/security, trust of the online user, content and advertising, infrastructure, copyright protection, jurisdiction, liability, data protection, and taxes and duties.