Government backs international e-consumer site

New Zealand has joined a 12-country initiative to boost consumer rights on overseas e-tail sites.

It is backing an international website that lets consumers complain about web retailers in other countries.

The new website was launched on Wednesday by the US-based International Marketing Supervision Network. Other participating countries include the UK, Korea, the US and Sweden. It lists consumer protection laws and participating government agencies and shows online buyers how to file complaints.

The New Zealand government sees the site as a major step in supporting consumer rights. "Not only can customers make complaints but using the new site New Zealanders can find out about the laws in other countries and their complaints can be passed to law enforcement agencies," says acting Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Anderton.

"This will mean that if something goes wrong, consumers have a single complaint point. It will greatly improve the ability of international enforcement agencies to address cross-border internet fraud and deception," he says.

Anderton also says the move backs recent moves by the eMarketing Standards Authority and Ministry of Consumer Affairs to protect the customers of web retailers.

The MCA monitors New Zealand sites as part of internet sweeps and offers guidelines as to what information should be on New Zealand-based websites. The eMarketing Standards Authority also provides a code with which members of the Advertising Standards Authority and the Direct Marketing Association should comply.

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