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For release 27 September 2022

Unfair business practices stopped in EU but not Australia

New report shows why Australians needs stronger consumer protections

A new report released today from not-for-profit think tank the Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC), has found that Australians are missing out on essential consumer protections that already apply in the EU, UK, US and Singapore.

“The gaps in Australian consumer protection laws mean that unfair business practices that have been stopped in the EU continue for customers in Australia,” CPRC, Digital Policy Director, Chandni Gupta said.

“In July the EU forced Amazon to make the process for unsubscribing from Amazon Prime simple and fair.

“Consumers in the EU can now unsubscribe in just two screens rather than multiple confusing steps to stop the subscription.

“Yet, in Australia, the very practice that the EU found to be unfair continues. Anyone wanting to cancel their Amazon Prime account has to jump through multiple hoops and navigate manipulative dark patterns. “Australia can learn from international approaches and to build on them to ensure consumers are better protected from unfair practices,” Ms Gupta said.

CPRC’s report, How Australia can stop unfair business practices, shows that countries in Europe including the UK, the US and Singapore, have benefited from a general law on unfair trading.

“We need laws to effectively call-out and restrict unfair practices including those found to be unfair overseas,

“The Australian Consumer Law currently applies only in the most extreme circumstances, making it insufficient to protect Australians from practices that manipulate or take advantage of them.

“Australians have lost money, lost control of their data or have been manipulated by a business to make a choice that was not in their interest yet the practices that cause these harms are not illegal.”

The report compares international approaches to restricting unfair trading and highlights seven specific features the Australian Government should consider when developing unfair trading laws in Australia, including meaningful redress and penalties that will effectively shift business behaviour.

In June this year, CPRC’s research into dark patterns found that these deceptive online designs aimed at influencing consumer behaviour were unfair and caused consumer harm but were unlikely to be captured by current legal protections.

“For a general principles-based law to work, regulators will need to be well-resourced to not uncover and mitigate unfair practices before they cause significant consumer harm.”

More information, including the full report is available at: www.cprc.org.au/unfair-policy Digital Policy Director, Chandni Gupta is available for interview on request. Contact media@cprc.org.au or phone 0402 684 225.

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Additional information

Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) is an independent, non-profit, consumer thinktank that develops, translates and promotes evidence-based research to inform practice and policy change.

Chandni Gupta, Digital Policy Director, CPRC

Chandni leads CPRC’s research stream on protecting consumers in a digital world. Commencing in July 2021, her work at CPRC includes exploring the consumer shift from the analogue towards the digital economy, the impact of deceptive and manipulative online design on Australian consumers and the key gaps that currently exist in Australia’s consumer protections.
Prior to CPRC, Chandni has worked in a range state and federal agencies. She designed and led the online compliance initiative for product safety at the ACCC, working closely with digital marketplaces to deliver safer outcomes for Australian consumers. She also brings a global perspective from her experience at the United Nations, and leading global consumer policy development in product recall effectiveness at the OECD. A tech geek earlier in her
career, she is passionate about digital products and markets that are safe, accessible, and
meaningful for consumers

How Australia can stop unfair Business Practices Report

How Australia can stop unfair Business Practices, Comparative analysis of unfair trading laws in international jurisdictions is the latest report from the Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC), released in September 2022. The report compares trading laws and provides seven key features for lawmakers in Australia to consider.
Author: Chandni Gupta
www.cprc.org.au/unfair-policy

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