ConPolicy Newsletter 2018 - 10

Dear Reader,


In today's issue ConPolicy informs you about: 

We wish you an exciting read!

Kind regards!

Your ConPolicy team

  News about ConPolicy

CSR Leaders' Circle on September 27, 2018 in Berlin
ConPolicy and Systain organize Corporate Digital Responsibility Workshop

On September 27 the CSR Leaders’ Circle “Corporate Digital Responsibility” took place which was organized and implemented by Systain and ConPolicy.

In a mix of practical presentations and interactive workshop-elements over 50 participants from business corporations and politics discussed society’s expectations towards digitalized companies, opportunities and challenges of Corporate Digital Responsibility and practical experiences.

The workshop made clear how important the discussion of Corporate Digital Responsibility is and how much still needs to be done to think digitalization, sustainability and corporate responsibility complementary and act accordingly.

More on the event and Corporate Digital Responsibility.

Consumer protection as a competitive advantage?
ConPolicy discusses benefits of responsible corporate conduct at the ING-DiBa Orange Morning Club

In the past few years many legislative activities in the financial services sector were targeted to stimulate competition as well as consumer protection. Yet, it is to ask whether businesses should address consumer protection questions mainly from a compliance perspective or whether consumer protection might also be related to a competitive advantage. 

This question was discussed today at the ING-DiBa Orange Morning Club in Berlin. After keynotes by ConPolicy-Director Prof. Dr. Christian Thorun and the Consumer Protection Officer of ING-DiBA Thomas Bieler, both discussed possibilities by which businesses could differentiate themselves from competitors by taking consumer protection beyond legal compliance seriously and what is needed to ensure that such activities are not only conceived as PR activities.

Corporate Digital Responsibility
ConPolicy engages in the debate at the Retail Forum 4.0 in Berlin

Job losses caused by artificial intelligence, arbitrariness by algorithms and severe IT-security weaknesses in toys are just some examples of the issues that are currently publicly discussed in the context of digitalization. Against this background the German Retail Association (HDE) invited to the Retail Forum 4.0. Here the question was discussed, to what extent companies have a social responsibility in the digital economy.  

In a discussion with State Secretary Gerd Billen (German Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection), Birigt Riess (Bertelsmann Foundation), Stephan Tromp (HDE), Stephan Engel (Otto Group) and Frederik Richter (Stiftung Datenschutz), ConPolicy-Director Prof. Dr. Christian Thorun explained why the topic of corporate digital responsibility is of great relevance and what the limits of such voluntary activities are.

Case studies at a conference in Hagen
ConPolicy talk on understanding addressees in consumer policy

On September 18th, stakeholders from academia, consumer associations, lobby associations and politics discussed the relation between the instruments used and the understanding of addressees in consumer policy interventions. They debated which image of consumers currently exists and how this image relates to the instruments chosen in consumer policy. 

The conference was organized by Dr. Kathrin Loer, who leads a research project on this topic at FernUniversität in Hagen.  

In this context, ConPolicy project manager Dr. Max Vetter presented two case studies. Based on data collected by ConPolicy, he firstly showed why consumers often find the present German rental control regulation difficult to use (you can find a factsheet on this topic here). 

In a second case study, he addressed the changing image of consumers in the field of consumer advice and consumer information, resulting in district-based approaches. Here, ConPolicy can draw from insights gained over the two-year consulting and evaluation of the district-based approach in Cologne (you can find the evaluation report here). 

In the afternoon, the conference was rounded off by a panel discussion of policy suggestions as well as obstacles for implementation. 

Interview with bento the youth magazine of Spiegel Online
ConPolicy talks about sustainable consumption

How can we manage to consume more sustainably? Why is it that we know so much about sustainability, but do not act sustainably? These were the questions asked by the youth magazine bento from Spiegel Online. Dr. Viola Muster, project manager at ConPolicy, answered these questions. During the interview, it became clear, on the one hand, that we have to change the framework conditions, e.g. prices and the availability of sustainable products. On the other hand, it became obvious that this requires the contribution of each and every individual, as a citizen and as a consumer.

Here you can find the whole interview (German).

Future of consumer policy and research
Journal of Consumer Policy celebrates its 40th anniversary in the context of an international conference

The Journal of Consumer Policy is the scientific journal for researchers, that are working on consumer policy issues. Against the backdrop of its 40th anniversary the editors of the journal, inter alia Prof. Dr. Hans Micklitz and Prof. Dr. Lucia Reisch, organized an international conference. For two days researchers as well as representatives of international organizations (such as the United Nations) and of non-governmental organizations (such as BEUC) came together at the European University Institute in Florence. Here a wide range of questions were discussed that are of great relevance for the future of consumer policy and research. Among them were aspects such as:

  • To what extent can it be useful to harmonize consumer law internationally?
  • Would it be useful and necessary to give up the “one-size-fits-all” approach to consumer protection regulation and to differentiate between different consumer groups
  • Does digitalization necessitate new laws?
  • Is it still correct to say that the “poor still pay more”?
  • What role should behavioral insights play in consumer policy and research?

ConPolicy-Director Prof. Dr. Christian Thorun showed in his presentation that digital technologies such as artificial intelligence or blockchain-technology could and should be used to achieve consumer policy goals. He called for more systematic research about this topic and founding.

Quadriga-ConPolicy research project featured in the Handelsblatt
Privacy Bot "DATENSCHUTZscanner" unburdens users by reading and assessing privacy policy for them

Today the results of the “DATENSCHUTZscanner” (German: privacy scanner) were published in the Handelsblatt. The DATENSCHUTZscanner is a so called “privacy bot” that reads and interprets complicated and lengthy privacy policies on behalf of consumers. Thereby it increases transparency and control with respect to privacy issues. Technically the DATENSCHUTZscanner uses an automatic text-analysis-process (natural language processing) and allows to asses a large number of privacy policies in a short amount of time. The results are evaluated with respect to 30 distinct privacy practices. For using the DATENSCHUTZscanner consumers are not expected to hold any specific technical or legal knowledge.

ConPolicy-director Prof. Dr. Christian Thorun and project manager Dr. Sara Elisa Kettner were involved in the project on behalf of Quadriga University of Applied Sciences. The project was funded from 2016 until 2018 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with approx. 2 Mio. Euros. Project partners were Self-Regulation Information Economy (Selbstregulierung Informationswirtschaft e.V.), Institute for Applied Informatics (Institut für Angewandte Informatik) and mediaTest digital.

More information:

Behavioral Insights
ConPolicy discusses nudging as instrument for shaping a sustainable future

Within the framework of the future workshops of the project "Shaping the Future" at the University of Oldenburg, the principle of nudging as an option for shaping a sustainable future was discussed next to real laboratories and citizen participation.

ConPolicy project manager Dr. Julius Rauber gave an expert lecture and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the nudge approach with participants from various scientific disciplines. Finally, a panel discussion discussed similarities and differences between real laboratories, citizen participation and nudging from a philosophical, psychological and sociological point of view.

  Consumer policy news

Consumer protection
Airbnb commits to making changes to fulfill EU consumer rules

After a call from the European Commission and EU consumer authorities in July 2018, Airbnb has now announced to comply with demands regarding EU... Read more

Environmental protection
Packaging register LUCID aims to increase the transparency of recycling

As of now, all companies that sell packaged products for private end consumers in Germany can register online at the new LUCID packaging register. As... Read more

  Recommended reading

Bakhoum, M., B. Conde Gallego, M.-O. Mackenrodt & G. Surblytė-Namavičienė (Eds.)
Personal data in competition, consumer protection and intellectual property law

This book analyses the legal approach to personal data taken by different fields of law. An increasing number of business models in the digital... Read more

Bauer, J. & L. Reisch
Behavioral insights and (un)healthy dietary choices: A review of current evidence

This paper reviews the current evidence about behavioral insights in the field of (un)healthy food choice that can support the development of... Read more

Sanders, M., V. Snijders & M. Hallsworth
Behavioral science and policy: Where are we now and where are we going?

The use of behavioral sciences in government has expanded and matured in the last decade. Since the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) has been part of... Read more

Kaiser, M. & L. Reisch
Can nudges be trusted? How people in Baden-Wuerttemberg think about behavior-based stimuli

The paper reports on an empirical study looking into people's attitudes towards green and health nudges. It is based on an online representative study... Read more

Hirschl, B.
The urban energy transition – Pathways to climate neutrality in our cities

The accepted view of cities is as „energy sinks” utterly dependent on regional suppliers, but in light of rapidly increasing urbanization, and the... Read more

Schudak, A. & T. Wallbott
Consumer perspective on green electricity

This brief study was carried out as part of the "Market analysis of green electricity and guarantees of origin" for developing a system for proof of... Read more

Hodges, C.
Collective redress: The need for new technologies

After many years of debate on collective redress, the European Commission has proposed to introduce a representative mechanism to be controlled by... Read more