Consumer Protection in the Data EconomyConPolicy input at a symposium of the Austrian Ministry of Consumer Protection

On November 25, 2022, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection hosted a one-day symposium on consumer protection in the data economy. The focus was on the commercialization of consumer data as a consumer policy challenge. 

In his keynote address, Prof. Dr. Christian Thorun, Managing Director of the ConPolicy Institute, addressed the topics of data power, digital asymmetry and digital vulnerability. He explained what is meant by data economy and why it is important in terms of consumer policy. In addition, he formulated theses on how the data economy should be evaluated in terms of consumer policy and what this implies for consumer policy. 

His central theses were:

  1. Thesis: The data economy should be seen as a new economic epoch for which we must establish new guard rails.
  2. Thesis: From a consumer policy perspective, it is still a matter of defending fundamental consumer rights.
  3. Thesis: In developing new guard rails, it must be taken into account that the asymmetry of power between consumers and companies has increased further as a result of digitalization.
  4. Thesis: It follows that legal regulations and effective law enforcement are necessary to guarantee consumer rights – especially with regard to companies with great market dominance.
  5. Thesis: In view of the high speed of innovation we also need companies to take their digital responsibility seriously as a complementary strategy (keyword: corporate digital responsibility).
  6. Thesis: Such digital responsibility should be in the very own interest of companies in order to maintain and promote consumer trust.
  7. Thesis: Digital policy and sustainability policy have not yet been thought together sufficiently. This is a serious deficit. Synergies must be explored.

His slides can be downloaded here.