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Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce

The Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce establishes benchmarks for good business practice for merchants conducting commercial activities with consumers online. The Code leaves unchanged rights, remedies and other obligations that may exist as a result of consumer protection, privacy or other laws and regulations, or other general or sector-specific voluntary codes of conduct to which vendors may subscribe.

The Working Group on Electronic Commerce and Consumers, composed of representatives of different sectors of the economy, was set up in the Autumn of 1999 to develop the Code, based on the Principles of Consumer Protection for Electronic Commerce: A Canadian Framework, which were approved in August 1999. The Code is also consistent with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce. Draft versions of the Code were the subject of extensive consultations during 2001-2002. In January 2003, the Working Group approved the Code in principle as a model for effective consumer protection in electronic commerce (for a listing of the Working Group members who approved the Code in principle, see Appendix 1).

In Spring 2003, the Code underwent pilot testing by a number of private sector participants. The Code was then reviewed and finalized with input from the E-Commerce Leaders Code Review Committee (for a listing of E-Commerce Leaders Code Review Committee members, see Appendix 2).

The Code was endorsed1 by federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for consumers affairs on January 16th, 2004. This code is now open to endorsement by private sector organizations and consumer organizations as representing good practice benchmarks for merchants engaging in consumer e-commerce.

The Code will be reviewed regularly to ensure its relevance to current technology and business practices and its effectiveness in promoting consumer protection in electronic commerce.

1.For the purposes of this document, endorsement constitutes agreement by the endorser that the Code represents good practice benchmarks for merchants engaging in consumer e-commerce. It does not represent an attestation that the endorser currently meets the terms of the Code. Attestations that any particular vendor or group of vendors meets the terms of the Code may take place through a number of implementation options, which are currently being explored.

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