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By | John Oates 25th March 2011 10:03

EU strengthens online shopper protection

And time for a chat about online gambling

The European Parliament has approved changes to a draft law aimed to strengthen protections for online shoppers who buy goods from other member states.

The changes made by MEPs will now be pushed forward as the basis for agreement with all member states.

It will cover all purchases whether made online, by phone, post or in a shop. The changes are designed to remove red tape for smaller companies while clarifying consumer protection in areas which include digital downloads.

Consumers should be aware of who they're buying from, what they are buying and exactly what it will cost, it said. These rights should put a stop to "pre-ticked boxes" which add hidden charges to purchases on some websites.

Deliveries are also covered: anything that does not arrive within 30 days can be cancelled by the punter and the seller is responsible for any damage in transit.

There will be a standard "cooling-off" period of 14 days during which consumers can cancel goods bought. If the goods are worth more than €40 the seller must pay return postage.

The rules will also cover "party sales" made in private homes and online auctions – but items can only be returned after an auction if they've been bought from a professional seller.

There's more on Europe's new consumer protection here.

In other news, the European Commission has opened a consultation on Europe's €6bn online gaming and gambling market. The Commission reckons this is 7.5 per cent of total gambling within the EU, based on 2008 figures.

There are wide variations in regulation from country to country with games of chance banned in some but not in others for instance.

The Commission believes that for every legal, licensed site offering gambling or gaming there are five websites offering similar services without a licence.

You have until 31 July to respond, more on the online gambling consultation here. ®

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