Consumer law aims at mitigating the substantial inequalities between traders and consumers. A thirty-year process of EU secondary regulation has come up with valuable legal tools that empower consumers within the internal market and foster fair competition between firms. Yet, technological development is increasingly having a disruptive effect on consumer rules and their effectiveness. Business is involved with IT in all sector of the economy, be this related either to the final good/service offered (e.g. IoT, app, audio-visual streaming etc.), or to the way businesses act in the market and interact with consumers (e.g. platforms, algorithms and automated decision-making). A complementary approach between consumer and data protection law is required.

The University of Luxembourg, in collaboration with CIRSFID Research Centre (University of Bologna), taking on from the pioneering work of EUI ArtSy Project, is dealing with the normative and technical adaptability of the Unfair Commercial Practice Directive to confront the dangers of digital market manipulation. In the era of Big Data and machine learning, online advertising is increasingly tailored to consumers’ preferences and traits, but the risks that it can leverage also on their bias and vulnerabilities are consistent and have risen attention of academia and (mildly) of institutions. The UCPD, prohibiting unfair practices of firms, prior, during and after transactions with consumers, could be a suitable instrument to face those risks, once it is revitalised in light of behavioural economics stances and adapted to the specificities of AI-driven decision-making systems.

Main contributor(s): Federico Galli