QuickLinks - Electronic commerce
QuickLinks - Electronic commerce
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Issue no. 412 - 28 November 2010
EU - Commission drops action against France after gambling law change
The European Commission has dropped its case against France after the country changed its gambling laws to allow foreign companies to offer online betting. The Commission said that it will no longer pursue the country over the issue now that the provision of online gambling services is no longer restricted to two French companies. The new online gambling law has introduced a national licensing system that allows for the cross border provision of sports betting on a non-discriminatory basis while providing strict controls on gaming.
Issue no. 411 - 3 October 2010
EU - Consumers: Most internet sites now safe to buy electronic goods
Buying popular electronic goods like digital cameras and music players on the internet is now much safer following a crackdown on problematic websites. 84% of the websites selling electronics, checked for breach of EU consumer rules, now comply with EU law (compared with only 44% in 2009). The "sweep" investigation was launched in May 2009 and carried out by national authorities in 26 member states, Norway and Iceland. The problems identified included misleading information on consumer rights, incorrect prices and missing contact details of the trader (IP/09/1292). These sites have now been corrected and penalties have been imposed where necessary. The Commission also announced the initial findings of the 2010 Sweep targeting online sales of tickets for cultural and sporting events.
Issue no. 410 - 6 August 2010
EU - Building Trust in Europe's Online Single Market
Speech by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, at the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU, Brussels, 22 June 2010.
EU law allows national bans on internet gambling, rules ECJ
European countries are within their rights to create gambling monopolies and to ban internet gambling companies from other EU countries operating, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has said.
Sporting Exchange Ltd v. Minister van Justitie
. The ECJ said that countries could restrict the gambling trade if they did it in a consistent way and to protect the interests of their citizens. "It should be noted in that regard that the internet gaming industry has not been the subject of harmonisation within the European Union," said the ECJ ruling. "A Member State is therefore entitled to take the view that the mere fact that an operator such as Betfair lawfully offers services in that sector via the internet in another Member State, in which it is established and where it is in principle already subject to statutory conditions and controls on the part of the competent authorities in that State, cannot be regarded as amounting to a sufficient assurance that national consumers will be protected against the risks of fraud and crime, in the light of the difficulties liable to be encountered in such a context by the authorities of the Member State of establishment in assessing the professional qualities and integrity of operators." The Court said that a previous case involving online gambling firm Bwin had established that internet betting was inherently more risky for consumers than shop-based betting. "Because of the lack of direct contact between consumer and operator, games of chance accessible via the internet involve different and more substantial risks of fraud by operators against consumers compared with the traditional markets for such games," it said.
Issue no. 405 - 24 January 2010
Virtual economy is set to make billions
Virtual goods such as weapons or digital bottles of champagne traded in the US could be worth up to $5bn in the next five years, experts predict. In Asia, sales are already around the $5bn mark and rapidly growing. For many, virtual goods are one of the hottest trends in technology and are fuelling huge growth in the social gaming sector.
Issue no. 403 - 24 November 2009
EU - 60% of cross border internet shopping orders are refused, says new study
There are widespread problems with refusals of orders for EU consumers trying to purchase goods online in another Member state, according to a new European Commission report on cross border consumer e-commerce. An extensive independent mystery shopping exercise was carried out for the Commission where shoppers across the EU tried to purchase a list of 100 popular products ?for example cameras, CDs, books, clothes - from a cross border provider. Over 11,000 test orders were carried out. The research found that 60% of cross border transactions could not be completed by consumers because the trader did not ship the product to their country or did not offer adequate means for cross border payment.
EU - Competition: Commission's Online Roundtable on Music
A joint statement setting out general principles that would underpin the online distribution of music in the future and so lead to improved online music opportunities for European consumers was signed by participants at the fourth meeting of the Roundtable on the Online Distribution of Music, chaired by European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes on 19 th October 2009. The participants at the Roundtable were Amazon, BEUC, EMI, iTunes, Nokia, PRS for Music, SACEM, STIM and Universal. Following the Roundtable, a number of participants announced concrete steps and commitments that should result in improved access of European consumers to music online.
Issue no. 402 - 18 October 2009
The power of mobile money
Mobile phones have transformed lives in the poor world. Mobile money could have just as big an impact. mobile phones have evolved in a few short years to become tools of economic empowerment for the world's poorest people. These phones compensate for inadequate infrastructure, such as bad roads and slow postal services, allowing information to move more freely, making markets more efficient and unleashing entrepreneurship. All this has a direct impact on economic growth: an extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points, according to the World Bank. More than 4 billion handsets are now in use worldwide, three-quarters of them in the developing world (see our special report). Even in Africa, four in ten people now have a mobile phone.
UK - Number of webcam models 'on the rise'
A rising number of British women are working as webcam models on the internet. Market analysts say the overall webcam market is now worth more than a billion pounds, with online sex shows a big part of it. Industry insiders say there's been a rise in applications, partly fuelled by the recession, with hundreds of British women signing up to UK websites each month, many more internationally. They appear live on webcams that can be accessed on computers around the world.
Issue no. 400 - 5 July 2009
EU - Commission publishes report on US internet gambling laws
The European Commission has published its
on US laws on remote gambling and their enforcement against EU companies. This report is the outcome of an investigation into United States measures affecting foreign suppliers of Internet gambling services. The report concludes that the US measures constitute an obstacle to trade that is inconsistent with WTO rules. As a result, WTO proceedings would be justified. At the same time, the report suggests that the issue should be addressed with the US Administration, with a view to finding a negotiated solution. See also
Fact Sheet: Trade Barriers Regulation report on US Internet gambling laws
Issue no. 397 - 8 March 2009
EU - Barriers to E-commerce
A new report on
Barriers to E-commerce
, presented by EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva, shows that online shopping is increasingly popular in the EU, but warns that barriers to cross border trade are holding back its development. The report presents a detailed analysis of current trends in e-commerce across the EU - including per country, most purchased items and obstacles for consumers and business online. Between 2006 and 2008 the proportion of EU consumers buying at least one item over the internet increased from 27% to 33%. These average figures mask the huge popularity of online shopping in countries like UK, France and Germany where more than 50% of internet users have made online purchases in the last year. In the Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland) the proportion of internet users who bought products and services online was 91% in 2008. Countries like Italy and Spain are also fast growing markets. Against this pattern of fast growing national markets, the extent of online purchasing cross border remains small, at only 7% in 2008 (compared to 6% in 2006). The report warns that numerous obstacles - linguistic, practical and regulatory as well as important trust issues - are holding back the development of online shopping in the EU.
Issue no. 388 - 1 June 2008
DE - German services seize 'eBay baby'
Authorities in Bavaria, southern Germany, have taken a seven-month-old boy into care after his parents offered him for sale on eBay "as a joke". The unnamed child was advertised as a "nearly-new baby" with a starting price of one euro.
Issue no. 387 - 12 May 2008
NL - Dutch want banks help to fight illegal Web casinos
Dutch authorities intend to crack down on illegal online casinos and are calling on banks to stop providing financial services to them. The ministry has made a list of 30-50 Internet gamers and has asked banks to stop services to these companies. Swedish online gamer Unibet and Dutch firm Oranje Casino, are targets.
Issue no. 385 - 21 March 2008
EU - Commission acts on obstacles to gambling services in Greece and the Netherlands
The European Commission has taken action to put an end to obstacles to the free movement of gambling services in Greece and the Netherlands. The Commission considers that the restrictions in question are not compatible with existing EU law and that the measures taken by these Member States to restrict the free movement of gambling services have not been shown to be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory.
EU/FR - Paris en ligne : Bruxelles s'oppose au blocage français des flux financiers
En France, l'État accorde un monopole sur les jeux d'argents en ligne à la Française des jeux et au PMU. Un projet de décret a pour objectif de contraindre les institutions financières à bloquer les ordres de paiement des opérateurs de jeux européens, dont les services sont accessibles en France. Bruxelles vient d'émettre un avis circonstancié sur ce projet de décret, estimant qu'il est susceptible d'engendrer des entraves à la liberté du commerce, des services ou d'établissement au sein de l'Union.
Issue no. 384 - 24 February 2008
EU / DE - Commission inquires into restrictions on gambling services in Germany
The European Commission has decided to send to Germany an official request for information on national legislation restricting the supply of gambling services. This new inquiry focuses on a number of provisions of the new legislation which entered into force on 1.1.2008: the total prohibition of games of chance on the Internet, notably sports betting; advertising restrictions on TV, on the Internet or on jerseys or billboards; and the prohibition on financial institutions to process and execute payments relating to unauthorised games of chance.
EU / SE - Commission inquires into restrictions on gambling services in Sweden
The European Commission has decided to send an official request for information on national legislation restricting the supply and promotion of certain gambling services to Sweden. Poker games and tournaments are offered in Swedish international casinos and, since 2006, the state-owned company also offers such services online on a large scale. However, the national legislation prevents online poker games and tournaments offered by operators licensed and regulated in other Member States. Also, it provides for restrictions and criminal sanctions on the promotion both of online poker offered by a licensed service provider in another Member State, and of poker organised within licensed premises in another Member State.
Issue no. 383 - 27 January 2008
EU - Betting industry urges action vs German ban
Europe's online gaming industry filed a complaint with the European Commission, saying Germany's ban on online gambling breaks EU law on the free movement of services. "The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) calls on the European Commission to take swift action against the German Interstate Treaty on gaming," the lobby group said in a statement. The treaty came into force on Jan. 1 and bans online gaming and betting, except on horse racing, in Germany. The EGBA said the ban "is in direct contravention of European Union law".
EU set to warn Germany over gaming market
The European Commission is set to step up legal action against Germany next week for thwarting foreign competition in the country's gaming markets. A new German law came into force on January 1 that bans online gaming and betting, except on horse racing. Europe's online gaming industry condemned the ban on Web gambling as unlawful and urged the Commission, the European Union's executive arm, to overturn it.
Issue no. 379 - 2 September 2007
Second life bans gambling
The creators of the online world Second Life, Linden Lab, has banned all forms of gambling in the game. While Linden Lab itself does not offer any gambling facilities in Second Life, the ability for people in the game to create just about any type of object means that virtual casinos have sprung up all over the world. This new policy will effect all users of the game, regardless of where they live in real life.
Issue no. 377 - 5 July 2007
Dial M for money
It has already changed most people's lives, but there is more work ahead for the mobile phone. The trusty SIM card can also act as a debit and credit card. That means it may only be a matter of time before mobile phones are used to deposit, transfer and withdraw cash.
Issue no. 373 - 11 March 2007
EU - Court rules to end gambling monopolies
A second landmark ruling on gambling, the 'Placanica case', puts pressure on EU member states to change their national laws restricting access to provision of sports-betting services.
Issue no. 370 - 3 December 2006
UK - Illegal net sport faces crackdown
Sports authorities are taking action to stop illegal live coverage of football and other events over the internet. Almost all English Premiership matches are available to watch live and for free, as are other leagues and sports. The coverage, mainly from Chinese sport channels, is put on peer-to-peer applications and can be watched anywhere in the world.
Issue no. 369 - 5 November 2006
U.K. pushes global rules on gambling
(International Herald Tribune)
The British government plans to seek international support for legalized, regulated online gambling, emphasizing a trans-Atlantic difference on the issue after the Bush administration's recent move to outlaw transactions with Internet gambling services. During a conference at the Royal Ascot racecourse, the British government plans to seek adoption of a broad code of principles on Internet gambling. Officials from more than 30 countries are expected to attend, though the U.S. Justice Department has declined to send a representative.
UK - Gaming to be 'mark of quality'
Online gambling sites registered in the UK would offer a "hallmark of quality" to people around the world, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has said. Signing up to the UK's regulatory code would enhance the sites' reputation and protect players, argued Ms Jowell. The UK hopes to become a "world leader" in internet gambling following a US ban on the activity. About 30 countries have pledged to ensure online gambling is not a source of crime and to protect consumers.
UK wants online gambling but will extradite to US if asked
The UK will set itself up as an online gambling haven but will extradite executives to the US if asked, according to Sports Minister Richard Caborn. The US effectively banned online gambling with a new law earlier this year, and Caborn and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell outlined plans to welcome internet gambling companies to the UK and to regulate them.
Issue no. 368 - 15 October 2006
EU - European Commission threatens legal action on gambling
The European Commission has threatened legal action against France, Italy and Austria for restricting sports betting and gambling services, including banning foreign online gaming and casino operators. Its move, bringing to nine the number of EU countries whose gambling legislation is under investigation, was hailed as a shot in the arm by the 50bn European betting sector - several of whose leading executives have been prosecuted for offering cross-border services. see
Commission Press Release
EU - Study on gambling
To obtain a detailed overview of the legal and economic aspects of gambling and games of chance, the Commission asked the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law to carry out a study into the sector. The study is the result of close to two years work and provides an analysis of the legal regimes governing gambling and games of chance in the European Union. The study also attempts to give indications on the economic development of the sector. The study confirms that in all Member States the sector is subject to rules and regulations aimed at safeguarding public interest objectives. While pursuing broadly similar aims the national laws and regulations vary considerably and often lead to barriers to the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment that are incompatible with Community law.
US - Gaming firms plan for US upheaval
A new law effectively makes internet gambling illegal in the US. Legislation which makes it a federal offence for firms to accept or handle money obtained from online gaming in the US was signed into law by President George W Bush. There is still some uncertainty about the scope of the law and how it will be implemented. The government has 270 days in which to issue regulations stating that banks and other institutions must block gaming-related transactions.
Issue no. 367 - 23 September 2006
EU - Distance Selling Directive: state of play and public consultation
The European Commission has adopted a
on the implementation of Directive 1997/7/EC on Distance Selling, and launched a consultation in order to assess the need to update the Directive. see also
Questions and Answers on Distance Selling
FR - Jeux en ligne: la Française des Jeux et le PMU défendent leur monopole face à Bwin
Les dirigeants du site de paris sportifs Bwin.com ont été mis en examen par la police française. Ils risquent plusieurs années de prison pour avoir violé le monopole d´État de la FDJ et du PMU, en proposant aux internautes français de parier en ligne. La police française a arrêté les deux patrons de la société de paris en ligne Bwin.com.
French curbs on gambling face challenge
France is likely to face a legal challenge from the European Commission over its restrictions on gambling operators. The threat was made following the arrest in France of two senior executives of Bwin, an Austrian online sports betting operator. The French authorities claim Bwin has violated French gaming law, which bans private sports betting businesses from operating in the country. Under EU law, governments have the right to place restrictions on gambling and sports betting operators, but they must be "non-discriminatory, proportionate and consistent". Mr McCreevy's spokesman said: "It is not acceptable to limit the freedom to provide betting services on account of protecting consumers and at the same time allow monopoly holders to advertise betting services."
US - Sportingbet arrest threatens internet gambling
The future of all unlicensed forms of internet gambling - from poker to horse racing bets - in at least seven US states was under threat after it emerged that the arrest of Peter Dicks, Sportingbet's British chairman, at New York's JFK airport was linked to Louisiana state's wide-ranging laws against gambling by computer. Most legal experts had, until yesterday, seen the federal Wire Act 1961 as the main threat to internet gaming operators targeting US customers. But several states, including Louisiana, have more up-to-date laws, more suited to the internet age.
Issue no. 366 - 3 September 2006
UK - How click-happy Britain fell in love with online shopping
Rather than battle their way through the hordes on the high street at the weekend, British shoppers are embracing the internet, spending more than their European counterparts booking holidays, hunting out book and DVD bargains and having groceries delivered to their door.
Issue no. 365 - 15 August 2006
DE - Internet-Sperren gegen Wettanbieter gefordert
Nachdem das private Wettangebot von Betandwin alias Bwin verboten wurde, werden nun Stimmen laut, die Internet-Sperren gegen Wettanbieter ohne Konzession fordern. Schwarze Listen für Internet-Provider werden in die Diskussion gebracht.
Issue no. 358 - 21 April 2006
EU - Increasing number of counterfeit medicines sold via internet
The Commission has warned consumers about an illegal obesity drug currently sold on the internet which has not passed the safety evaluation process of the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).
Issue no. 356 - 27 February 2006
EU - Country of origin rule cut from Services Directive
MEPs adopted a watered-down draft Services Directive, removing the "country of origin" principle that would have entitled European traders to work in any of the 25 Member States while complying only with the relevant laws of their home state. MEPs have adopted a "freedom to provide services" provision. This requires that Member States respect the right of the service provider to supply services and guarantee the provider "free access to and free exercise of a service activity within its territory".
IT - Italian Gov't Declares War on Illegal Online Gambling
AAMS, the Italian governmental agency in charge of controlling state monopolies, said some 517 'illegal' or 'unauthorized' gambling Web sites are going to be obscured by an ISP level filter so that Italian Internet users will not be able to connect to them. Italian ISP's (Internet Service Providers) have also been ordered to deny access to several Chinese Web sites showing 'Serie A' soccer games.
Issue no. 354 - 31 January 2006
UK sets up summit on online gambling
The UK is to host the firstinternational summit on online gaming this year amid growing ministerial concern about the need to protect children and the industry's potential for criminal infiltration by rogue operators. The UK last year became the only industrialised nation to introduce a regulatory framework for the online gambling industry with passage of the Gambling Act. However, with other countries - notably the US - refusing to regulate the industry, ministers acknowledge the UK is operating in isolation. They want to ensure agreed measures are in place to stop children from using online gambling sites and to prevent the possibility of money laundering.
Issue no. 346 - 2 October 2005
UK - eBay faces court over lens sales
Online auction company eBay is facing court action over claims it allowed contact lenses to be sold on the site. The General Optical Council claims people buying lenses online risk serious eye problems because they do not receive the necessary checks. By law, lenses must be sold by a registered optician or doctor.
Issue no. 342 - 31 July 2005
After ten years, what has been learnt about succeeding as an e-business?
Issue no. 341 - 9 July 2005
M-payments scheme falls apart
A future where your mobile phone could also be a Europe-wide purse took a step backwards with the collapse in June 2005 of Simpay. Following the defection of T-Mobile to pursue its own scheme, Simpay announced it would fold. The venture, set up by Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Telefónica Móviles in 2003, aimed to create a cross-Europe system allowing payments of up to 10 to be made via mobile phones. However, the scheme was beset by delays and the inability of the founders, who were market competitors and therefore rivals, to agree. The result may either be the emergence of separate m-payment systems for each mobile company (with inevitable costs to consumers in cross-border transactions) or the fading-out altogether of the m-payment idea in favour of other technologies.
Issue no. 340 - 23 June 2005
EU - Commission seeks mandate to negotiate UN Convention on "e-contracting"
The European Commission has asked the Council for authorisation to open negotiations, on behalf of the EU, on a draft UN Convention aiming to make it easier to conclude international business to business contracts electronically. The negotiations will take place within the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
Issue no. 338 - 7 May 2005
ICC - International guidelines on e-marketing
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has updated guidance on marketing and advertising using electronic media, advocating a light touch when it comes to regulating the sector. Compliance should present no problems for UK businesses. The guidelines cover advertising over the internet, through on-line and interactive services, and electronic communication networks including the telephone, SMS/MMS, digital radio and television. They have been updated in light of technical advances in the market since 1998, when they were last amended.
US - 20 arrested in crackdown on Internet pharmacies
Twenty people in the United States and abroad were arrested on charges they ran Internet pharmacies that illegally shipped narcotics, steroids and amphetamines to teenagers and other buyers around the world.
Issue no. 337 - 13 April 2005
US and Antigua dispute WTO ruling on gambling
The United States and the tiny Caribbean state of Antigua and Barbuda are both claiming victory in a trade dispute over online gambling. It follows a
by the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) top court, which partially reversed an earlier decision that was greatly in Antigua's favour. Washington said the ruling accepted it could prevent Antiguan online gambling firms from operating in the US. Yet Antigua said its firms would still be able to enter the US market.
Full text of report
Issue no. 332 - 22 February 2005
NL - Ladbrokes loses Dutch online case
Britain's biggest bookmaker, Ladbrokes, has been barred from offering internet betting services to punters in the Netherlands by the Dutch supreme court. The ruling follows a lawsuit from the Dutch Lotto after Ladbrokes placed adverts in several Dutch newspapers during the World Cup three years ago. Ladbrokes does not hold a permit to offer bets in the Netherlands and has no shops in the country.
Issue no. 329 - 23 January 2005
IM - Isle of Man changes gambling rules
(New York Times)
Reversing a four-year-old policy, the Isle of Man is now allowing Internet casinos based there to accept bets from American residents. The change, while affecting only a handful of Internet casinos, adds a wrinkle to an emerging trade battle between the United States and much of the world over Internet gambling.
Issue no. 324 - 21 November 2004
WTO rules against US gambling ban
US laws prohibiting cross-border gambling break trade rules, the World Trade Organisation says. The WTO case was brought by the Caribbean state of Antigua and Barbuda, host to many of the online casinos whose use is illegal in the US. The ruling confirms a preliminary judgement issued in March. But the US said it will appeal and - as a last resort - could activate its right to change the deal under which it joined the WTO in the first place.
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.
QuickLinks consists of
a free newsletter appearing approximately every two to three weeks. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list.
a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham
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