Consumer council reviews e-commerce guidelines

The federal government's consumer affairs advisory council is developing best practice guidelines for online shopping and e-commerce sites.

Parliamentary secretary to the treasurer Chris Pearce said the council would identify emerging issues in e-commerce.

"I have expanded the role of the council to include responsibility for advising me on the implications for consumers of developments in e-commerce in addition to trends in consumer affairs," he said in a statement.

"The council will promote principles of best practice for businesses in their on-line dealings with consumers.

"This reflects the current use of e-commerce in a wide range of consumer transactions."

Also last week tough new laws were introduced for Internet content hosts and service providers (ISPs) which are aimed at protecting children from risque material on the Internet and mobiles phones.

The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) introduced three new codes which force ISPs to prominently display relevant links on their home pages so users can access safety tools and information to protect them from inappropriate material.

ABA acting chair Lyn Maddock said ISPs have an important role to play in educating their customers.

"It is important that families have easy access to accurate and reliable information about managing the risks associated with the Internet," Maddock said.

The third code prohibits mobile content classified X and requires restrictions on users wanting to access R or MA rated material.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan said the new rules will help regulate content.

"The codes will be reviewed in 12 months to take into account any developments in filtering technologies and any community concerns which may arise during this period," she said.

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