QuickLinks - Electronic commerce
QuickLinks - Electronic commerce
Issue no. 317 - 22 August 2004
- UK - Internet pharmacies get go-ahead
he government has given the green-light to internet-only pharmacies in England. The move follows a decision to ease the rules on where new pharmacies can be located. Under the plans, pharmacists opening in large shopping centres or for more than 100 hours a week will find it much easier to get a licence.
Issue no. 314 - 24 June 2004
- DE - Court bans Internet cut-price book sale
A court banned a journalist from selling his review copies of books online, saying the discounts breached German price-fixing arrangements that forbid price competition. A bookseller had sued for a court order after the Berlin journalist posted 48 books on the Ebay auction site in a space of six weeks. The journalist said at trial he had been sent the books free by various publishers and he was only earning a little on the side.
Issue no. 311 - 31 May 2004
- EU - Council agreement on unfair commercial practices
The Competitiveness Council has reached a political agreement on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The directive provides for full harmonisation: as soon as traders comply with the provisions of the directive they do so not just in their own national context but on EU-level. There is no need for mutual recognition, the same rules apply in all EU Member States. The Directive lays down rules for determining whether a commercial practice is unfair and defines a limited range of "sharp practices" which are prohibited EU-wide. See also Ministers scrap "country of origin" from unfair trading law (out-law.com). EU Trade Ministers have scrapped the "country of origin" principle in a proposed Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices, a move that could leave European traders liable to comply with consumer protection laws of all 25 Member States, rather than just one.
- EU - Enforcement network to crack down on rogue traders
The Competitiveness Council has endorsed legislation that will create an EU-wide network of national enforcement authorities capable of taking co-ordinated action against rogue traders who abuse the freedom of the EU's Internal Market in order to run cross border scams. The regulation will require each Member State to designate a public enforcement authority to be part of a mutual assistance network. Each of these competent authorities will then be able to call on other members of the network for assistance in investigating a possible breach of consumer laws, finding information or, ultimately, ensuring a rogue trader is stopped. In return for receiving these rights, each competent authority will, in turn, be obliged to provide assistance to its counterparts in other Member States.
- Put the tab on my mobile
In what looks like the first major blurring between telecommunications companies, credit card networks and banks, a conglomerate of mobile networks is launching a system that may take on credit cards as a way of paying for things, online and off.
Issue no. 310 - 16 May 2004
- EU - e-payments to go mobile
The Commission has launched a consultation on how the e-money directive could be amended to enable industry to offer e-payments services using mobile phones. Up until now, mobile phone operators have used the e-money directive mainly to issue pre-paid phone cards. In doing this, operators in some Member States were assimilated to issuers of e-money and therefore had to comply with rules laid out in the e-money directive requiring them for example to convert cards into cash when asked by their clients. In other Member States, however, national authorities did not assimilate operators to issuers of e-money. According to a preliminary analysis made by the Commission, simple pre-paid cards would not be covered by the e-money directive but services bought with it (ringtones, news, messaging, etc.) would.
- EU - Legal barriers in e-business
The results of an open consultation of enterprises. Commission Staff Working Paper. SEC(2004) 498. Replies were received from 651 enterprises with a majority confirming that the legal framework does not constitute a major barrier for doing business electronically. Only 30% indicated that they had experienced legal problems, in particular with the conclusion of contracts, but also with taxation, electronic signatures or the provision of information society services. The economic impact of such problems is, however, often quite severe, resulting not only in frustration but also in abstentions from electronic trade. see Questionnaire and Statistical results.
- GR - Police raid Internet cafés
(New York Times)
After the Greek Parliament approved a measure banning what was loosely described as public gaming, some government and police officials interpreted the law as banning the public use of computers for any electronic games, whether they involved gambling or not. The country's Internet café owners association says that so far this year, the authorities have raided more than 35 Internet cafés across the country, confiscating a total of 300 terminals. Judges have invariably acquitted the café owners, but the vice squads have not backed off, the association said. this spring the European Commission told the Greek government that the law must be overhauled because it essentially restricts the free trade of legitimate electronic games. Still, it remains on the books, despite vague promises by the new government to modify or repeal it.
Issue no. 309 - 9 May 2004
- WTO - Challenge to ban on Net gambling upheld
Tiny Antigua and Barbuda have successfully challenged a U.S. ban on Internet gambling, dealing the United States another setback at the World Trade Organization. A WTO panel had issued a final report that was 'largely unchanged' from its preliminary ruling against the U.S. ban one month ago.
Issue no. 305 - 28 March 2004
- DE - German court: Pop-ups need permission
A European court has issued a preliminary injunction against Claria - formerly known as Gator - that prohibits the company's pop-up and pop-under ads from appearing over a German rental car Web site without the agency's permission. The injunction, by plaintiff Hertz Autovermietung, the German division of Hertz, is the latest victory for companies that oppose the unauthorized use of pop-ups on their sites. The Court of First Instance in Cologne, Germany, ruled March 12 that Claria had violated sections of a German law against unfair competition.
- UNCITRAL - Draft UN treaty to ease global electronic commerce moves forward
The chief United Nations body overseeing international trade law policies has taken a step closer to a treaty that would create a unified legal regime for worldwide electronic commerce, removing barriers and lowering costs for companies using the Internet to conduct business. The recommendation on a draft text at the conclusion of a week-long meeting by the UN Commission on International Trade Law's (UNCITRAL) Working Group on Electronic Commerce will be submitted to the Commission's next full session in June. The text focuses on areas such as legal electronic transactions, data exchanges and e-mail messages.
- WTO - US online gambling policy unlawful
(New York Times)
The World Trade Organization, in its first decision on an Internet-related dispute, has ignited a political, cultural and legal tinderbox by ruling that the United States policy prohibiting online gambling violates international trade law. The ruling, issued by a WTO panel, is being hailed by operators of online casinos based overseas as a major victory that could force America to liberalize laws outlawing their business. But the Bush administration vowed to appeal the decision, and several members of Congress said they would rather have an international trade war or withdraw from future rounds of the WTO than have American social policy dictated from abroad.
Issue no. 302 - 15 February 2004
- European forum to address obstacles to e-business
The European e-business kicks off its activities on 18 February with the aim of lifting barriers to e-business take-up in Europe. The forum will seek support and cooperation from stakeholders across the board, including industry, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), public sector and consumer associations.
- FR - La LEN à l'épreuve de la comparaison européenne
La France est l'un des derniers pays européens à transposer la directive de juin 2000 sur le commerce électronique. Les points sensibles actuellement discutés dans l'Hexagone ont déjà été adoptés chez nos voisins. Le texte devait entrer dans les droits nationaux avant le 17 janvier 2002. Soit deux jours après que la loi pour la confiance dans l'économie numérique (LEN) a été présentée en Conseil des ministres... Elle ne doit revenir devant les sénateurs, pour une deuxième lecture, que les 6 et 7 avril prochains.
Issue no. 301 - 8 February 2004
- AU - Caribbean casinos lure net gamblers offshore
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Australians' most popular place to gamble online is a Caribbean casino, according to a survey. While online gaming websites are illegal, except on certain sports betting and lottery sites, about 40 per cent of hits by Australians gambling on the internet are on illegal overseas casinos and sports betting services. The federal Interactive Gambling Act 2001 makes it illegal to provide or advertise interactive gambling sites. But it is difficult to police because many sites are based overseas, and it does not apply to individuals using the sites.
- FR - Un site de vente de tabac fermé
E-tabac.com, un site français qui vendait des cartouches de cigarettes à bas prix a été fermé et ses créateurs interpellés. Les clients pourraient également être sanctionnés. Les cigarettes étaient vendues uniquement à des clients français à moitié prix. Le bénéfice des délinquants a été estimé à 350.000 euros et le préjudice des douanes à 960.000 euros. Via un système complexe avec des ramifications aux Etats-Unis, au Bénin, aux Etats-Unis et à l'île Maurice, les trafiquants ont écoulé 24.000 cartouches, soit six tonnes de tabac.
Issue no. 299 - 24 January 2004
- CA - Consumer ministers approve e-commerce code
Canadian federal, provincial, and territorial ministers met to approve a new Code of Practice for Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce. The code addresses issues such as clear information, payment security, contract formation, and complaints handling.
Issue no. 298 - 18 January 2004
Issue no. 297 - 11 January 2004
- US - Court duel between advertisers on Internet
(New York Times)
A federal judge in New York has called at least a temporary timeout on pop-up Web advertising. A judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has issued a preliminary injunction that bars an advertising software company called WhenU.com from displaying pop-ups and other types of online advertisements for VisionDirect.com when visitors go to 1-800Contacts.com, a competing Web site.
- UK - Can the internet help Lotto?
Camelot has launched Lotto on the internet. So will the long-awaited move reverse waning interest in the lottery's main game?
Issue no. 296 - 4 January 2004
- DE - Online-Apotheken jetzt legal
Seit dem 1. Januar können die Bundesbürger alle hierzulande zugelassenen Medikamente auch per Post oder Internet bestellen. Zugleich wurde die Preisbindung für nicht verschreibungspflichtige Arzneien aufgehoben.
Issue no. 294 - 14 December 2003
- EU - Court upholds German ban on Internet pharmacies selling prescription drugs
The European Court of Justice gave countries the right to ban sales of prescription drugs by Internet pharmacies because of safety concerns, but said the restrictions could not apply to sales of over-the-counter medications. The decision is a partial victory for German pharmacists who wanted to stop a Dutch pharmacist from selling prescription drugs from his store to German patients via his Web site, www.0800DocMorris.com. But noting that Germany is dropping its ban next year anyway, the Dutch firm claimed victory as well. Judgment Case C-322/01 Deutscher Apothekerverband eV. ECJ Press Release.
Issue no. 293 - 7 December 2003
- EU - Report on Electronic Commerce Directive
Directive 2000/31/EC on electronic commerce is already 'having a substantial and positive effect' by applying to e-commerce the Internal Market principle of the freedom to provide services, according to a European Commission report COM(2003) 702. The report concludes that the objectives of the Directive have been met and that it has provided a sound legal framework for information society services in the Internal Market. It has also led to modernisation of existing national legislation, for example in contract law, to ensure the full validity of online transactions. The deadline for Member States to implement the Directive into national law was 17 January 2002. The Directive has now been implemented in 12 Member States. In the remaining three (France, the Netherlands and Portugal) work appears to be well advanced. Five of the ten future Member States have already written the Directive into national law. An important tool in ensuring that national rules incompatible with the Directive are not adopted will be the notification procedure under Directive 98/34/EC, under which the Member States give prior notification of any draft national regulations governing on-line services (see IP/03/739). In addition, on 17 November 2003 the Council approved EU accession to Council of Europe Convention 180, the first truly international system (open to more than 50 countries, including the US, Japan and Canada) of regulatory dialogue on information society services (see IP/03/955).
- US - Google to Limit Some Drug Ads
Google, the popular search engine, will stop accepting advertising from unlicensed pharmacies that have used the Internet to sell millions of doses of narcotics and prescription drugs without medical supervision, company officials said. Google's move follows decisions last month by Yahoo and by Microsoft's MSN site to stop accepting similar advertising.
Issue no. 292 - 23 November 2003
- FR - Le PMU lance les paris sur internet
En ouvrant ses guichets à l'internet, le PMU, troisième entreprise mondiale de paris hippiques avec 6,4 milliards d'euros de chiffres d'affaires en 2002, poursuit l'opération de rajeunissement de sa clientèle et une recherche de croissance tous azimuts. Avec ce nouvel accès aux paris hippiques, le PMU vient compléter l'offre de paris à distance, jusqu'à présent limitée aux paris par téléphone, par minitel et via la télévision interactive. L'organisme de jeux souhaite ainsi élargir l'accès à ses produits en faisant découvrir l'univers des paris et des courses hippiques à un public entièrement nouveau.
Issue no. 290 - 9 November 2003
- EU - European Court upholds Italian Internet gambling ban
The liberalisation of internet gambling in Europe has been put on hold after EU courts authorised governments to restrict the flow of cross-border sports betting. In the Gambelli case, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the Italian government's prohibition of unregulated cross-border sports betting via the internet does not breach EU law per se but merely restricts? European market freedoms of establishment and services. The court held the gambling ban on the 'net' is justified on moral and social grounds - that is, through a concerted drive to reduce gaming and gambling in the state. The court added that gaining state money or the procurement of finances for public funds from lotteries, games of chance and betting would not be a valid reason for a ban
Issue no. 289 - 26 October 2003
- DE - Hamburgs Verfassungsgericht erklärt Online-Roulette für rechtswidrig
Das Hamburgische Verfassungsgericht hat das Online-Roulette für rechtswidrig erklärt. Es sei nicht mit dem Spielbanken-Gesetz vereinbar, befand das Gericht heute. Online-Spieler seien naturgemäß nicht in Spielbanken anwesend und könnten so auch nicht von dem Personal vor einem ruinösen Spiel bewahrt werden.
- DE - Impressumspflicht gilt auch für ausländische Webanbieter
Auswärtige Firmen, die nicht in ein deutsches Handelsregister eingetragen sind, müssen ein vollständiges Webimpressum vorweisen, wenn ihr Angebot auf deutsche Internetnutzer abzielt und die Geschäftsführung von Deutschland aus erfolgt. Dies hat das Landgericht Frankfurt am Main entschieden.
Issue no. 286 - 3 October 2003
- UK - National roll-out for chip cards
Credit and debit cards that do not require a signature when purchases are made are to be rolled out nationwide in Britain. The new cards require consumers to input a four-digit code when making a purchase rather than sign a slip. One in five credit card users are expected to have the new cards by the end of the year and more than half of all cardholders are likely to have them several months after that.
Issue no. 284 - 21 September 2003
- EU - Commission consultation on legal problems for e-business enterprises
The European Commission has launched an eight-week Internet consultation on legal barriers that enterprises still encounter when using electronic commerce and other electronic business applications. Such problems could arise, for example, from divergent national legal provisions for electronic invoicing or from a different legal treatment of online and offline business. The Commission would be interested to learn more about remaining practical reasons for not doing business electronically. This consultation is open to all enterprises until 7 November 2003. The results of this consultation will be presented and further discussed at a conference in March/April 2004 in Brussels.
- ICC rules on e-contracting are on their way
The International Chamber of Commerce has started drafting voluntary rules to help companies negotiate contracts electronically. At the same time, ICC has expressed serious concerns about a projected international convention governing e-contracts. The new ICC instrument, named 'E-Terms 2004', is expected to be available for use by the end of June next year. It is a logical extension of ICC's array of rules, model contract clauses and guidelines that feature daily in countless paper-based international business transactions.
Issue no. 279 - 17 August 2003
- DE - Juristischer Sieg für 0800DocMorris
Nach einem Bericht der 'Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung' hat die Internet-Apotheke 0800DocMorris beim Landgericht Hamburg eine einstweilige Verfügung gegen fünf deutsche Landesapothekerverbände erwirkt. Danach dürfen diese bei Androhung eines Ordnungsgeldes künftig nicht mehr behaupten, der Medikamenten-Versender mit Sitz in Holland biete seine Waren deswegen billiger als Apotheken in Deutschland an, weil er statt der deutschen nur die niedrigere Umsatzsteuer der Niederlande bezahle.
Issue no. 278 - 10 August 2003
- EU / DE - Pharmacies en ligne : première affaire soumise à la Cour de justice CE
Une législation nationale peut-elle interdire la vente transfrontière via l'internet de produits pharmaceutiques. La Cour de justice européenne va trancher cette question importante. L'avocat général a rendu son avis que nous commentons ici. La Cour est amenée à se pencher sur la question suite à une question préjudicielle posée par le Landgericht Frankfurt am Main dans une affaire qui oppose les membres de l'Apothekerverband (fédérations et associations de pharmaciens des Länder) à la pharmacie néerlandaise 0800 DocMorris NV (« DocMorris »).
- UK - Most e-commerce sites breach laws, says survey
Most UK e-commerce sites do not comply with at least one basic legal requirement, 95% fail to provide a "reasonable" level of customer service, 72% fail data protection requirements, and 63% breach distance selling rules, according to research commissioned by on-line legal documents provider Clickdocs. The research was carried out among a random selection of web sites from 20 different market segments, all selling on-line to UK consumers.
Issue no. 277 - 30 July 2003
- Antigua - Online gambling haven takes on U.S. restrictions
The tiny twin-island Caribbean state of Antigua and Barbuda took on the world’s biggest trade superpower in challenging U.S. restrictions on online gambling - one of Antigua’s most promising sources of export income. The dispute is the first concerning electronic commerce to be brought to the World Trade Organization since its creation in 1995, and only the second relating to the WTO’s general agreement on trade in services.
- EU / GR - Commission challenges Greek legislation on electronic games
The European Commission has sent Greece a warning with regard to legislation prohibiting the use of electrical, electromechanical and electronic games, including computer games, in all public and private places - including premises providing Internet services (cybercafés). The Commission questions the compatibility of the law in question (of 29 July 2002) with the provisions of the EC Treaty on the free movement of goods and services and the freedom of establishment. The fact that the law was not notified at the draft stage also raises questions concerning a possible infringement of Directive 98/34/EC, which provides for prior notification of national regulations laying down technical rules in respect of on-line goods and services.
- NL - Government forces foreign sites to block Dutch gamblers
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The Netherlands state betting monopoly took 80-odd global betting houses to court. Some 62 betting agencies based all over the world caved in to the request. They agreed to block Dutch residents from gaining access to their websites. Those that did not comply face fines of €10,000 a day. see judgment in Dutch.
- US - PayPal settles over gambling transfers
PayPal will pay the U.S. government $10 million to settle allegations that it knowingly transferred funds to unlawful offshore gambling sites. The U.S. Attorney's office had alleged that PayPal had provided services to offshore sites in violation of 18 U.S. Code 1960, which prohibits transmitting funds "derived from a criminal offense," and 18 U.S. Code 1084, which relates to the transmission of information about wagers. The $10 million settlement represents what both parties agreed represented forfeitable revenue that PayPal obtained from processing the gambling transactions. As part of the settlement, PayPal also agreed to maintain a corporate compliance program for at least two years. When eBay acquired PayPal last October, it halted the practice of processing online gambling payments.
- US - Report criticizes Net wine sale bans
Lifting state laws banning the sale of wine on the Internet could mean savings of up to 21 percent for consumers, particularly if they buy higher-priced varieties, U.S. regulators said. The report by the Federal Trade Commission concluded that the laws crimp competition and cost wine drinkers money. The wine report is part of a broad FTC review of state regulations that also considers whether they are thwarting online competition. Twenty-six states, including New York, Florida and Pennsylvania, ban interstate wine sales over the Internet, largely because of fears that the Internet would be used to sell to minors, the agency said.
Issue no. 275 - 14 June 2003
- US - House votes to restrict Net gambling
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to slap broad restrictions on Internet gambling by targeting credit cards and bank accounts that Americans use to pay offshore casinos. After spirited debate over amendments to the legislation, the House voted 319 to 104 for the final version, which did not include criminal penalties but did cover credit card payments. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act would give federal regulators six months to devise regulations to restrict financial transactions related to Internet gambling. The regulations must be "reasonably designed to identify" and "reasonably designed to block" credit card and other financial transactions. see also US strikes blow at online casinos (BBC) .
Issue no. 272 - 24 May 2003
- EU - Ministers make no progress on sales promotion legislation
Meeting on 19 May, the Competitiveness Council failed to come to an agreement on the sales promotions Regulation draft, which would harmonise cross-border provision of premium offers and free gifts. EU ministers did not manage to reach a common position but held an exchange of views on the sales promotion Regulation, based on a compromise text by the Greek Presidency. The Council identified the most important remaining problems that will need to be tackled under the Italian Presidency. The sales promotion Regulation aims at introducing uniform rules for sales promotion and providing for a high level of consumer protection by doing away with several legal obstacles hindering the Internal Market, due to divergences in national legislation.
Issue no. 271 - 18 May 2003
- PayPal Stops Sex Merchandise Payments
It could soon be easier to buy adult videos at your local sex shop than through the Internet. PayPal, a subsidiary of eBay that processes payments anywhere in cyberspace, will stop taking payments for most adult-themed merchandise over the next five weeks. Other electronic payment services, including Yahoo! and Visa USA, have also tightened restrictions on sexually explicit items
Issue no. 266 - 6 April 2003
- FR - Avant-projet de loi relatif aux communications électroniques
Après une consultation publique au cours de laquelle l´ensemble des acteurs concernés ont pu faire valoir leurs préoccupations, le ministère de la culture et de la communication et le ministère délégué à l´industrie ont élaboré un avant-projet de loi relatif aux communications électroniques, destiné à assurer la transposition en droit français des directives communautaires en la matière (communément désignées comme « paquet télécoms »). Soumis à consultation publique, cet avant-projet de loi est susceptible d'être modifié à l'issue de la consultation . voir aussi l'exposé des motifs.
- US - Gambling Sites Adjust to Scrutiny
(New York Times)
Congress took substantial action against Internet betting, with a House committee passing a bill to curb online gambling and a nearly identical bill being introduced in the Senate. Similar bills have been introduced in Congress before, but none passed both houses in the same session. With increased Congressional interest now, the legislation may well reach the president's desk this year.
Issue no. 261 - 2 March 2003
- AOL Starts a Service For Copying of Music
America Online is launching a music service today that will enable its subscribers to listen to newly released music and copy, or "burn," it onto CDs for a fixed monthly fee. The big looming question is whether AOL users will pay as much as $17.95 a month to download music, since millions of computer users already listen to music and burn CDs free from Kazaa and other Web sites not authorized by the music industry. Initially, AOL will offer what it calls the standard version of its music service free for 30 days.
Issue no. 254 - 15 December 2002
- DE - Bundesregierung will Internet-Apotheken
Die Bundesregierung hat erneut ihre Absicht bekräftigt, das in Deutschland bestehende Versandhandelsverbot für apothekenpflichtige Arzneimittel abschaffen zu wollen. Im Rahmen der mündlichen Verhandlung vor dem Europäischen Gerichtshof im Streit um die niederländische Internetapotheke DocMorris. Der Rechtsstreit um eine Klage des Deutschen Apotheker-Verbandes gegen die niederländische Internet-Apotheke DocMorris hatte das Landgericht bis zur Entscheidung des Europäischen Gerichtshofes ausgesetzt.
Issue no. 252 - 30 November 2002
- Internet Casinos Lose Allies
(Wall Street Journal)
Internet casinos are now losing a number of allies that had supported and promoted their growth. PayPal, one of the most popular ways for gamblers to bet online, halted its gambling payment service. Last month, Yahoo stopped carrying ads for Internet casinos. In another sign of the times, Akamai Technologies says it won't carry ads from gambling clients anymore on its "content servers," whose technology for providing high-quality video and graphics is among the Web's best.
Issue no. 251 - 24 November 2002
- EU - MEPs endorse Commission proposal on tobacco advertising
On 20 November, the EP plenary adopted in its first reading a Resolution on tobacco advertising fully endorsing the Commission's proposal for a new Directive on this matter. The ban will extend to the advertising and promotion of tobacco via different channels. On the internet, commercial information on ingredients, quality standards and health aspects can still be made public. see also Tobacco Advertising (EurActiv).
- US - Credit Cards Seek New Fees on Web's Demimonde
(New York Times)
In the wake of rules from credit card companies and banks that have strangled many online gambling sites, Visa and MasterCard are now looping the noose for adult sites that may have spotty credit-card records. Many of the online companies say that the new rules, which the card companies call antifraud measures, will clean up an industry rife with unethical billing practices. But some operators say that, in fact, the credit card companies have taken it upon themselves to step in as de facto regulators of their industries.
Issue no. 249 - 10 November 2002
- On a winning streak
Online gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry. Players, lured by big pots, just can't get enough.
Index page see also Digital signatures | Statistics | Taxation
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