How private is your web life?

Debbie-Haskell-150x150One of the more conspicuous contributions to the ever quickening pace of modern life is the rapid increase in the use of the internet for commercial and social interaction. This evolution has occurred so rapidly that most people think nothing of spending hours at a time online, accessing the internet through their phones, note books or laptops.  Its origins as the open sharing of academic thoughts and ideas has metamorphosed into such diverse offerings as search engines and shopping; forums and Facebook and not forgetting that the expansion of social media gives you the opportunity to post a million photographs (tagged of course!) of your five year old’s birthday party triumph.

All of this raises an interesting question, one very much the topic of debate in the court recently; is our privacy being sacrificed at the altars of convenience and immediate information?

Why ask this at all? Well the quest for faster access to information and more efficient internet encounters has been revolutionised by an explosion in the use of cookies. A cookie is a simple text file, unique to every browser, which is stored on a computer or mobile device by a websites server. This has undoubtedly represented a quantum leap forward in data collection and retrieval speed, enabling amongst other things, immediate recall of an individual’s preferences, shopping basket or search history.
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Consumer rights within the European Union

Debbie-Haskell-150x150Have you ever bought goods over the internet from a retailer in the European Union and been worried about what you could do if they did not arrive or were faulty?

It is not a very well known fact but our government signed up to a European Directive in 2007 to make it easier for one party to a dispute to take the other to court even though they are located in another European member state.  Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 established a European Small Claims Procedure and has applied since 1 January 2009 to business and consumers alike. Its principle aim is to ensure access to justice by simplifying the whole cross boarder court process through the use of unified forms and by reducing matters to a paper procedure where possible. It applies to all European states with the exception of Denmark and strict time frames must be adhered to, to ensure that the dispute is efficiently managed.

European Small claims – what does this mean….?

Simply put, if for example you had a contractual dispute with a party based in the European Union, such as faulty goods being delivered and if you were not able to resolve the matter amicably perhaps via your bank, credit card or a service provider then under the European Small Claims Procedure (or ESCP) a consumer or business can start proceedings using a uniform court form.  The ESCP only applies to claims up to the current value of €2000 and to disputes of a consumer and commercial nature. Whilst this description covers quite a wide variety of claims there are restrictions which apply and it is actually easier to list those which don’t.
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