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Brazil pushes e-commerce protection

On March 15th, International Consumers Day, Federal Decree 7962/2013 was published. It provides additions to the Brazilian Consumer Code, Código de Defesa do Consumidor, (CDC) - regarding e-commerce. The decree issues a number of benefits and renovates a proposal to reinforce the responsibilities of parties in online platforms.

The decree has recognisable merits, especially through the application of concepts relevant to the CDC which did need revising for online business, such as the right to information, efficient customer service and the right to return goods the consumer decides after purchase that they simply do not want.

In truth the decree can be summed up in three words, efficiency of communication. This appears to be the decree's central idea, and is essential to be effective in the current scenario of both growing e-commerce activity and increased complaints by consumers to consumer protection bodies regarding that activity. In relation to the evolution of virtual medias, an old subject that had been previously scheduled in other bills Under the new rules, it was established that sites should disclose their details, especially, their corporate name, CNPJ or CPF, physical address and any other necessary contact information.

This simple security measure, is clearly a positive development for good faith companies as it facilitates transparent access between the parties and thus allows customers to more effectively check the suitability of merchants. It also reiterates the responsibility imposed upon entrepreneurs in the online marketplace to follow the same rules of tax and customer service as those in the traditional physical marketplace. This vendor identification will encourage healthy competition in the market which to date has been tainted by some online cowboys who have used the anonymity of the internet to avoid the burden of Brazilian laws.

Also, the decree provides that in cases of collective purchasing the company should provide clearly important details such as the minimum number of buyers, the deadline to join the offer and the full details of the offerer and collective shopping site.

In order to encourage clarity, it was also determined that to complement the above that the principal rights and obligations resulting before closure of a contract should be presented in an easier way to consumers. As for post closure these rights should also be made available so consumers can refer to them after the sale. The supplier should maintain a proper channel of electronic customer service for the consumer. Furthermore, the decree rightly provides that the appropriate means to exercise the right of cancelation is by way of Article 49 of the CDC and that as such this must be made clear to the buyer.

Although the decree does not address the issue directly, the creation of simple channels of communication for consumers, the CDC Consolidated guidance could also be extended to social networks given their huge growth within the Brazilian media. Furthermore the theme of IP log stores as discussed in the debates surrounding the Civil Regulatory Framework should be considered appropriate in relation to consumer protection. It should also be mentioned, that companies seeking an adjustment in the terms of information security under ABNT (27001 and 27002, for example), must remain in accordance with current legislation and therefore should comply meticulously with the provisions of the decree.

As noted, all the information required by the decree to be disclosed by the vendor may have another effect, that being to empower consumers to be able to evaluate effectively the supplier and the products he is offering, the legislation emphasises the principle that consumers should have choices in their consumption decisions. So, Although the law applies to everyone, sometimes the Law itself needs to remember its application in certain environments, especially in pioneering developments, in order to be most effective. This seems to be the case the with decree 7962/2013, it's considerations are well timed and will serve as a foundation for the positive development of online business in Brazil.

 

Renato Opice Blum - Attorney, Economist and President of the IT Advisory Board of Fecomercio.

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