In recent decades, the development of new digital technologies, platforms, and business models has drastically altered the nature of markets and commerce by lowering barriers to entry and expanding access to information, capital, and consumers. Despite these advancements, access and accountability gaps persist and low levels of trust in the digital economy continues to prevent or deter businesses and consumers alike from embracing economic activities online.
Public-private cooperation to develop regulatory frameworks that shape key elements of the digital economy, including data privacy and protection, cybersecurity, consumer protection, and electronic transactions are needed to enhance transparency and build trust. In particular, consumer protection regulations must address both electronic and non-electronic business to consumer, business to business, and consumer to consumer transactions as the nature of commerce evolves. Yet, consumer protection is often minimally applied to improperly described or faulty goods, rather than as a mechanism for ensuring safety and trust in the entire transaction process of new business models, especially when disputes arise. Due to this narrow interpretation, consumer protection has not received the focus it deserves at the international level, and there is little consensus on standards or enforcement.
Coordinated, multi-stakeholder engagements between groups such as local business communities, civil society, academia, and government are essential in developing and implementing new policies and frameworks that create an enabling environment that builds trust in the digital economy. This participatory workshop will explore ways to build trust in the digital economy through inclusive multi-stakeholder policy discussions at national, regional, and international levels, with a focus on consumer protection. While the speakers will provide initial insights on the topic, much of the session will be dedicated towards encouraging IGF participants (in-person and online) to share their ideas and best practices on charting a new path forward that builds trust in the digital economy by reducing arbitrary or unenforceable standards.