Centre for Internet & Society

Pranesh Prakash participated in the Consumers International Global Meeting held in Kuala Lumpur on March 8 and 9, 2012. He spoke on UN Consumer Guidelines. Robin Brown, Tobias Schönwetter and Guilherme Varella were the other speakers in the session.

Wednesday 7 March

 6:45pm Anwar Fazal speech on 50th anniversary of JFK Consumer Rights
Dinner hosted by FOMCA

Thursday 8 March

8:30am Registration
9:00am Welcome (Helen McCallum)
Introduction and overview (Jeremy Malcolm)
 10:00am Introduction to Digital Personal Property (Paul Sweazey)
 11:00am Break
 11:30am UN Consumer Guidelines (Robin Brown, Tobias Schönwetter, Pranesh Prakash, Guilherme Varella)
1:00pm Lunch
 2:00pm Consumer Protection and IP Abuse Prevention under the WTO Framework (George Tian)
Internet governance and consumers (Peng Hwa Ang)
4:00pm Break
Public Interest Representation in the Information Society (Norbert Bollow)
5:30pm Consumers in the information society (Jeremy Malcolm)
6:30pm Break
 7:30pm     Cultural and culinary outing to pasar malam

Friday 9 March

8:30am Registration
 9:00am M-Lab (Lih Shiun Goh from Google Singapore)
10:00am Internet and human rights (Alan Finlay from Association for Progressive Communications)
 11:30am     Global consumer survey on broadband (Jeremy Malcolm, Veridiana Alimonti, Elise Davidson, Marzena Kisielowska-Lipman)
1:00pm    Lunch
 2:00pm Cyber-security concerns for consumers and businesses (Raj Kumar, IMPACT)
3:00pm Broadband nutrition label (Benjamin Lennett, New America Foundation)
4:00pm    Break
4:30pm Reporting back – open time for member presentations
6.00 pm

Abstracts and biographies

United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection

This paper provides background to the proposed amendments to update the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection for the digital age. A soft-law instrument, the Guidelines provide an influential standard for the dissemination of good practices in consumer protection, as a mechanism to foster and promote social and economic development. They outline eight areas for developing policies for consumer protection, which are reflected by the eight consumer rights declared by the global consumer movement: rights to satisfaction of basic needs, safety, choice, information, consumer education, redress, representation and a health environment.

The paper outlines the current global regime of public policy developmment and regualtion relating to access to knowledge. Indicating that many of the issues of concern in terms of access to knowledge are essentially consumer issues it argues that amendments to the Guidelines would form the basis for progress. The paper then details the proposed amendments explaining the basis for each one.

Joining Robin Brown on the panel will be representatives from our research partners in India, Brazil and South Africa who will be contributing to our research on the Guidelines.

Robin Brown has 25 years of experience in consumer and business regulatory affairs. He spent 10 years as the chair and chief executive of Australia’s national consumer body, the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations. Robin has been involved in projects to advance consumer protection and competition policy and regulation in a number of developing countries. In recent years Robin has served as a Councilor of the Australian Consumers’ Association. He holds a BA and a Master of Public Policy from the Australian National University.

Pranesh Prakash is Programme Manager at the Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore. He is a graduate with a degree in Arts and Law from National Law School, Bangalore, with a keen interest in the law, economics, and culture of intellectual property rights.  He helped found the Indian Journal of Law and Technology, and was part of its editorial board for two years.  He is most interested in interdisciplinary research on IP and property law, freedom of speech, and privacy. He has worked with practising lawyers, civil society organizations, and law firms.

Tobias Schönwetter is a Senior Manager within PricewaterhouseCoopers' South African practice performing legal advisory services specifically relating to innovation, technology and intellectual property (copyright and trademarks). Tobias has studied and practised law in Germany, the US and South Africa and he has led the copyright division at UCT's Intellectual Property Law and Policy Research Unit for several years. His international experience, together with his leadership roles in a number of intellectual property-related projects and research collaborations such as the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) project and the Open AIR (African Innovation Research and Training) project, has secured his place as an industry expert within the intellectual property and technology sector.

Guilherme Varella is a lawyer at Idec (Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense) in telecomunications, Internet and access to knowledge and Master's student in public policies of culture in the Law School of Universidade de São Paulo (University of São Paulo - USP).

The event was sponsored by the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute and IDRC/CRDI. For more information, see here on the Access to Knowledge website.