The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC)

As consumers, we are constantly making choices and weighing various options against each other. To do this, we need accurate and reliable information. We are protected by consumers legislation that assumes we are provided with complete information.

In a digital setting however, accurate and complete information is no longer a given; suppliers use profiling, for example. This involves using personal data to create a consumer profile and then adapting the information on their products and services to suit this profile. The latter action is referred to as “targeting”. This practice can prove valuable if, as a fashion fanatic for example, you always see advertisements showing the latest fashion trends; however, this type of targeting is not quite as innocent when you are charged a higher price or if you are no longer in control of who shows you which kind of information. This targeting process undermines consumers’ autonomy. Political actors also use targeting to only show political advertisements to certain groups of people, out of sight of the other participants in the public debate. This type of political targeting has led to the manipulation of elections in the past.

BEUC is working on proposals to modernize existing consumer legislation so that consumers can also be assured of reliable and accurate information in a digital environment. Increased protection of consumers in digital environments establishes restrictions for targeting, thus limiting the amount of political targeting that may be done. This will hopefully lead to improving the freedom and autonomy of citizens in a democracy.

Adessium Foundation supports this BEUC initiative because more modern consumer legislation can help make online environments for public debate safer and more reliable.

About this partner

BEUC stands for Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs or The European Consumer OrganiSation. BEUC is the umbrella group for 44 independent consumer organisations from 32 countries. Its main role is to represent them to the EU institutions and defend the interests of European consumers. The objective is always to make new legislation more consumer-friendly, improving existing legislation or urging better enforcement of these laws.

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