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Competition Bureau to lead international consumer protection network for one-year term

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 @ 12:11 PM | By John Chunn

The Competition Bureau announced on June 30 that it will begin its one-year term as president of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN). From July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the bureau will lead the network of consumer protection and law enforcement authorities from over 65 countries, representing approximately five billion consumers worldwide.

According to the bureau’s press release, with the rapid rise of the digital economy, the accelerated pace of technological change, the global COVID-19 pandemic and an international push for environmentalism, consumers face many novel risks of deceptive marketing. Building consumer trust in a changing marketplace will drive Canada’s program of work during its presidency. 

Josephine Palumbo, deputy commissioner of the bureau’s Deceptive Marketing Practices Directorate, will act as ICPEN president.

The bureau will work alongside ICPEN member nations to explore new ways to deter deceptive practices that affect consumers’ worldwide. This work will include a focus on the following themes:
  • COVID-19: examining global best practices around remote investigative and consumer protection work to better adapt to misleading and fraudulent marketing activities related to the pandemic;
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): exploring the benefits of AI as an investigative tool, as well as potential ways businesses may use it to mislead consumers; 
  • Digital platforms: looking at enforcement challenges, data privacy concerns and third-party responsibility associated with digital platforms;
  • Misleading environmental claims: examining ways to address misleading activities that attempt to exploit consumer concern about the environment.

To support its role as president, the bureau will draw on its findings and recent experiences in the digital economy, specifically in fraud prevention, big data and deceptive marketing in the area of privacy.

“With the economic challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the incessant expansion of the online marketplace, collaborating with consumer protection and enforcement agencies worldwide has never been more critical. Together, we will identify matters that require cross border enforcement responses and work to protect consumers on a global scale,” said Palumbo.