Germany to Update E-Commerce Law

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The German government has drafted an update of a 1997 teleservices data protection law that would bring it more in line with the European Union's recent e-commerce directive and ease the heavy regulatory burden on e-tailers.

"Our current law is much stricter than the EU directive," said Thorsten Beck of the legal department at DDV, the German association for direct marketers. He noted that the law had substantially slowed the growth of e-commerce in Germany.

The new law would make consumer consent much easier to obtain and thus would give Web merchants greater legal security. It conforms to EU guidelines that allow approval to be obtained via e-mail or by clicking on an Internet button. The 1997 law requires merchants to get electronic signatures from customers.

The new law also will contain more specific consumer protection features designed to lower the anxiety levels of would-be German purchasers, such as limits on how long consumer data can be kept and how it is used.

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