QuickLinks - Consumer protection
Issue no. 233 - 4 May 2002
- USA - E-Mail Opens New Door For Familiar Scam Tactic
The get-rich-quick con, dubbed the "Nigerian Letter Scam" is now arriving with increasing frequency in e-mails, many sent from Nigeria or neighboring West African nations. Last year, they constituted the third biggest consumer fraud on the Internet, trailing auctions and the sale of merchandise, according to the National Consumer League
- USA - FTC, Canadian Firms Settle Over Bogus Domain Threats
Under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, several Canadian domain-name registrars and their operator will pay $375,000 to consumers who were duped into unnecessarily buying variations of their existing domain names.
Issue no. 232 - 28 April 2002
- USA - FTC shuts down spam scam
The U.S. government has shut down an e-mail scam that promised free video-game consoles but instead delivered a connection to a pornographic Web site that charged $3.99 per minute. The case is one of the most egregious examples yet of the deceptive junk e-mail known as spam, the Federal Trade Commission said. Internet users received an e-mail message telling them they had won a Sony PlayStation 2 in a promotion sponsored by Web portal Yahoo. Those who responded to the message were directed to a bogus Yahoo! page that instructed them to download a program that would allow them to claim the prize. The program connected them to a pornographic Web page that secretly charged them $3.99 per minute. see also FTC Shuts Down Multimillion-Dollar Porn Spam Scam (Newsbytes) and Spam Scam Targeted Kids and Their Parents (FTC Press Release).
- USA - Penalty Upheld For Man Who Scammed Ebay Bidders
Using special software to harvest the contact information of Ebay shoppers amounts to mass marketing, a U.S. appeals court had ruled in upholding hefty fines and jail time for a man who used the technique in swindling dozens of the online auction site's subscribers. The decision by a three-member panel of the Appeals Court for the 3rd Circuit supported a lower court's ruling that Frank Richard Nickens' conviction on 67 counts of wire fraud was worthy of greater penalties under federal law that takes a dimmer view of "mass-marketing" scamsters.
Issue no. 231 - 14 April 2002
- Nigeria - E-Mail Suckers Exist
Among 10,000 Americans who reported being suckered by online hoaxes last year, 16 fell victim to an elaborate plot that pinged millions of e-mail inboxes: Nigerian letter fraud.
- USA - Court Rules in Favor of Microsoft
A Connecticut consumer didn't have the right to sue Microsoft in state court alleging anticompetitive conduct, because the harm to him was too remote and indirect, the state Supreme Court ruled.
- USA - E-Mail Messages Open Window on Wall Street
There is an escalating state investigation into allegations that Wall Street stock analysts promote companies they don't believe in while their banks earn fees selling the firms' stock and offering advice. Investors and securities watchdogs have long complained about inappropriate ties between analysts and investment bankers. But they've rarely had access to the e-mail and other gritty, behind-the-scenes details about dealmaking cited in this case.
Issue no. 230 - 7 April 2002
- USA - Online fraud squad touts success
The Internet Enforcement Task Force, also called Netforce, was formed two years ago by the FTC and several states including Washington, Alaska and Oregon to fight online fraud and deceptive e-mail, or "spam." Netforce used its news conference to say the FTC was taking legal action in four new cases of alleged consumer fraud, and to issue a progress report that said it had handled 63 cases of Web-based scams and had sent more than 500 warnings letters to senders of deceptive e-mails.
Issue no. 228 - 17 March 2002
- France - Un site marchand français sur trois est en infraction
Manque d'information, publicité mensongère, renvoi vers des sites illicites, "labels" auto-proclamés. Un site marchand français sur trois enfreint la réglementation, selon l'enquête 2001 de la direction générale de la consommation, de la concurrence et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF).
- USA - Court Shuts Down Website Selling Bogus Domain Names
(FTC Press Release)
An operation that used deceptive spam messages and appeals to patriotism to sell Web addresses that don't work, including ".usa" has been shut down by a U. S. District Court at the request of the Federal Trade Commission.
Issue no. 227 - 10 March 2002
- USA - Microsoft To Refund MSN Fees In Credit Card Mix-Up
Prosecutors in Orange County, Calif., say Microsoft has agreed to pay $100,000 in penalties and make refunds to consumers who were billed for Internet access after they had asked to terminate their MSN accounts. A statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office Tuesday said Microsoft, without admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to an injunction enforcing California's Business and Professions Code in order to end a consumer-protection lawsuit.
Issue no. 226 - 3 March 2002
- USA - FTC Settles With Two Sites Selling Bioterrorism Products
As part of its ongoing crusade to purge the Internet of fraudulent Sept. 11 profiteers, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday it had settled a claim against a Web site that marketed its "colloidal silver" product as a cure for anthrax.
Issue no. 225 - 24 February 2002
- Nigeria - Money Scams Thrive On The Internet
E-mail-based scams have almost completely displaced the faxes and postal mailings used when Nigerian money frauds first appeared nearly 25 years ago. The unsolicited messages, which are usually sent from Web mail accounts at providers such as Yahoo, entice greedy recipients with the false promise of windfall profits in exchange for helping the sender recover millions of dollars in frozen or hidden assets. Annual losses attributed to these scams are in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
- UK - Firm closed for Net fraud
A High Court judge has ordered the closure of a London-based insurance company that had been selling bogus automobile warranties over the Internet.
- USA - Judge Orders Injunction Against Psychic Hotline
A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against the companies behind the nation’s largest “psychic hotline, ordering the companies to cease a range of fraudulent business practices that have become the focus of a federal investigation. see FTC press release.
Issue no. 224 - 16 February 2002
- USA - NY State Sues Network Associates Over Review Ban
New York State has sued anti-virus software maker Network Associates, seeking to do away with the company's ban on product reviews. Such policies, known in legal circles as restrictive covenants, are illegal, said Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Such bans "harm the public by censoring discussions of a product's flaws and defects".
Issue no. 223 - 10 February 2002
- USA - FTC Launches Program To Ease ID Theft Reporting
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will launch a program that should make it easier for victims of identity theft to alert creditors and merchants to fraudulent activity on their accounts. The FTC hopes its ID Fraud Affidavit will simplify the reporting process by allowing victims to send the same form to dozens of credit issuers and merchants that have agreed to participate in the program.
Issue no. 222 - 2 February 2002
- Australia - Agencies Get Access To U.S. Net Fraud Database
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will give Australian law enforcers broader access to Consumer Sentinel - the FTC's database of Internet and telemarketing fraud complaints.
- Australia - Man Banned From Giving Advice On IRC
In what is believed to be a world first, Australia's financial watchdog has taken a Brisbane man to court over his messages posted in real-time on an Internet relay chat (IRC) channel. In a display of Internet know-how, the financial services regulator also persuaded the court to halt the man's use of specific meta tags on his Web site.
- USA - SEC Launches Bogus Sites To Warn Gullible Investors
Seeking to warn speculators who are too quick to leap at questionable investment opportunities touted online, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will educate consumers by launching a series of Web sites promoting bogus companies.
Issue no. 221 - 26 January 2002
- USA - Identity Theft Heads FTC Consumer Complaints
Identity theft headed the top 10 consumer fraud complaints of 2001, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Identity theft accounted for 42 percent of the 204,000 complaints entered into the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database last year.
- UK - Mobile users conned in sex text messages scam
Mobile phone users are being conned out of hundreds of pounds by paying for unsolicited premium-rate text messages that promise cash prizes or invitations to join adult chatlines. When users respond to the offers, they are bombarded by more text messages - unaware they are paying up to £1.50 to receive the text. Messages usually cost about 12p.
Issue no. 219 - 13 January 2002
- USA - FTC Sues Firm For Moving Illegal TV Ads Online
A dietary supplement company that paid $10 million to settle charges that its television infomercials misled consumers is facing new federal scrutiny for moving its allegedly fraudulent sales pitch onto the Internet.
Issue no. 218 - 6 January 2002
Issue no. 217 - 16 December 2001
- Pere-Noel.fr utilise l'image de l'Unicef sans son accord
Dans le cadre d'une promotion, le marchand en ligne annonçait reverser 2 euros à l'Unicef pour chaque achat. Problème : l'association humanitaire n'avait pas donné son accord préalable à l'opération.
- USA - Group sues SBC PacBell over Net service
A consumer group has filed suit against SBC Communications unit Pacific Bell alleging that the phone company registered customers for SBC's Prodigy Internet service without their permission.
Issue no. 216 - 8 December 2001
- New online trustmark scheme launched
EuroCommerce, the European Association representing retail, wholesale and international trade, introduces trustmark because it wants to create trust and give security to online shoppers. The Euro-Logo trustmark scheme is based on their European Code of Conduct, taking into account current and future relevant legislation.
Issue no. 215 - 2 December 2001
Issue no. 214 - 23 November 2001
- Australia - Porn sites dump on unwitting visitors
When a Newcastle couple's phone bill jumped by hundreds of dollars they assumed Telstra had made a billing mistake; they had no idea that a piece of sneaky software was making furtive phone calls and secretly dialling a porn service. It's just one of many cases of Internet dumping brought to the Communications Law Centre's online practice OzNet Law, a Web site providing help with Internet-related legal problems
- Deutschland - BGH: Telefonsex-Gespräche müssen bezahlt werden
Telefonsex-Gespräche über 0190er-Sondernummern müssen bezahlt werden, obwohl die entsprechenden Verträge zumindest nach der momentan gültigen Rechtsprechung sittenwidrig und nichtig sind.
- Deutschland - Euro-Sünder am "virtuellen Pranger"
Der Euro kommt - und mit ihm die Angst vor Preiserhöhungen. Anfang Oktober hat die Verbraucher-Zentrale NRW eine Seite im Internet eingerichtet, auf der die Namen von Firmen veröffentlicht werden, die im Verdacht stehen, ihre Preise Euro-bedingt angehoben zu haben.
Issue no. 213 - 11 November 2001
- France - Peut-on encore croire au pere-noel.fr ?
Les plaintes des consommateurs ne cessent pas contre le site et le cybermarchand doit aujourd'hui faire face, dans un environnement économique difficile, à la justice.
- USA - Porn sites fined $30M for illegal billing
The operators of www.playgirl.com and several other adult-oriented Web sites agreed to pay $30 million to settle charges that they illegally billed thousands of customers for what were advertised as free services, the Federal Trade Commission said. see Press release (FTC).
Issue no. 211 - 20 October 2001
- USA - Red Cross Warns Of Fraudulent Trojan Program
The American Red Cross is warning Internet users to beware a credit-card-stealing Trojan horse program, delivered in an e-mail that is made to look as though it comes from the disaster relief organization.
Issue no. 210 - 14 October 2001
- Customers derail MS double-dipping
Bowing to customer pressure, Microsoft has backed off a controversial licensing provision that forced some customers to pay twice for the software they purchased.
- Internet: un site dénonce les "eurotricheurs" en Autriche
Pour dissuader les commerçants d'augmenter indûment leurs prix lors du passage à l'euro, un organisme autrichien publie depuis peu sur son site internet les noms de ceux qui trichent... ou se trompent.
- Pop Singer's Death Hoax A Top Story At CNN.com
At CNN.com the most popular story Oct. 7 carried the headline "Singer Britney Spears Killed in Car Accident." - but it was a hoax. See also 4,000 Jews, 1 Lie - Tracking an Internet hoax (Slate).
- EU - E.C. Mulls New Consumer Protection Rules
The European Commission opened discussions on proposed legislation that would establish consumer protection and advertising guidelines for companies throughout the 15-country European Union, in part because of new challenges posed by increased cross-border shopping via the Internet. see Green Paper on Consumer Protection, with links to Press Releases, and three extensive studies on national and EU legislation on B2C commercial practices. see The future direction of EU consumer policy: Commission stirs up public debate (Press Release). A framework directive establishing EU-wide principles for fair trading practices would be adaptable and responsive to changes in market practices - allowing to tackle new unfair practices, such as those in the online world, quickly. It would however not include rules concerning health and safety (i.e. tobacco or alcohol advertising) or decency.
- UK - Jamjar told to change ads after complaint
Car e-tailers jamjar.com have been censured by advertising watchdogs after customers found the site’s price for a Seat car was higher than the UK list price. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled the site had been inaccurate in magazine advert claims that it offered "Huge savings on manufacturers' list prices.
- USA - FTC Shuts Thousands of Deceptive Web Sites
A U.S. court has shut down thousands of Web sites that diverted Web surfers from intended destinations and bombarded them with ads for pornography and gambling. But officials at the Federal Trade Commission said at a news conference that many of the sites were up and running again.
Issue no. 209 - 1 October 2001
- UK - BT internet claims banned by watchdog
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ordered BT to pull banner ads on its website for the BTinternet Anytime offering that claimed its service was fast and reliable, after users complained of busy tones when trying to dial-up connections to the internet.
- USA - FTC Cracks Down On Porn, Gambling Site 'Mousetrapping'
The FTC plans to announce the beginning of a campaign against scores of Web sites that capitalize on typo variants of popular domain names to dupe unsuspecting Internet surfers into visiting an adult or gambling Web site. The FTC also plans to target Web sites owners engaged in a practice known as "pagejacking," pages which contain hidden code that redirects users to an entirely different site, usually one laden with explicit adult images.
Issue no. 207 - 18 September 2001
- Commerce électronique : la France transpose la directive sur les contrats à distance !
(Droit et Nouvelles Technologies: Actualités)
par Thibault Verbiest. La directive n°97/7/CE du 20 mai 1997 relative aux contrats négociés à distance, fondamentale pour la sécurisation du commerce électronique, est enfin transposée en France ! C'est l'Ordonnance n° 2001-741 du 23 août 2001 qui réalise cette transposition, via une modification du Code de la consommation. A noter que l'ordonnance transpose également les directives européennes sur la publicité comparative et les clauses abusives conclues avec des consommateurs.
- Germany - LG Hannover: "WebRobin"-Gütesiegel rechtswidrig
Der wegen seiner Abmahnungen in die Schlagzeilen geratene Verbraucherschutzverein GSDI e.V. hat vor dem Landgericht Hannover eine Niederlage einstecken müssen. Auf Antrag der SpeyerNet AG ist es dem Verein verboten, weiterhin sein Datenschutz-Gütesiegel "WebRobin" zu vergeben.
Issue no. 206 - 3 September 2001
Issue no. 205 - 3 August 2001
- France - Tiscali Liberty Surf épinglé pour pub mensongère
Le fournisseur d'accès Liberty Surf a été condamné le 25 juillet par le tribunal de commerce de Paris pour «offre trompeuse entraînant une distorsion de concurrence». À l'origine de cette procédure, une plainte en référé déposée par la société T-Online France, maison mère du FAI Club Internet, suite à la diffusion d'une campagne publicitaire proposant un forfait de 50 heures à 95 francs.
Issue no. 204 - 27 July 2001
- Stiftung Warentest: Schlechte Noten für Freemailer
Mehr als 20 größere Anbieter von kostenlosen E-Mail-Diensten hatte die Stiftung Warentest untersucht. Das Ergebnis scheint verheerend. Einige Freemailer bewegen sich demnach "am Rande der Legalität", oft sind die elektronischen Postfächer unsicher.
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