Presentation of the “Unfair Algorithmic Practices” approach at BEUC workshop


Professor Wendehorst presents the “Unfair Algorithmic Practices” approach at BEUC workshop on “European Consumer Protection 2.0”

On 22 October 2020, Christiane Wendehorst spoke on the first panel of an online feedback workshop organised by the European Consumer Organisation BEUC in Brussels. The panel was devoted to the topic of surveillance, consent, and the vulnerable consumer. Wendehorst challenged the paradigm of informed consumer consent in the digital world. She argued that what we need to achieve for consumers is instead a situation of “rational indifference” as was achieved in the area of consumer contract law thanks to the 1993 Unfair Contract Terms Directive. This means that consumers must be put in a position to navigate freely and click on all sorts of buttons because they can trust that nothing really harmful to them will happen. Referring to ideas Wendehorst had put forward as a reaction to the Commission White Paper on AI, at a FRIAS workshop in Freiburg in summer, and on her experience as an observer to the Uniform Law Commission’s committee on data privacy law in the US, Wendehorst argued for a large “green zone” of legitimate data use and safe harbour for both consumers and businesses (partially still subject to opt-out), a “red zone” of prohibited data use that cannot be cured by the consumer’s consent, and only a rather narrow corridor in between where data use can, and must, indeed be legitimised by way of consent. Wendehorst also presented a range of conditions that should, in the future, be fulfilled in order to render consent fully effective, including technological means and new data intermediaries.