Memorandum of Understanding - eConsumer.gov Pilot Project

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE
INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND
AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE
"ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

The participants signing this Memorandum,

RECOGNISING the challenges posed by cross-border Internet fraud, deception, and unfairness;

RECOGNISING the desirability of more effective cross-border enforcement of consumer protection laws and regulations;

RECOGNISING the desirability of enhancing consumer confidence in cross-border e-commerce;

RECOGNISING the desirability of preventing consumer injury resulting from cross-border Internet fraud, deception, and unfairness;

RECOGNISING the existence of certain current restrictions on international government cooperation, including restrictions on information sharing; and

RECOGNISING that nothing in this Memorandum requires the participants to participate or provide support in a manner inconsistent with their respective national laws, law enforcement policies, or other important interests,

HAVE REACHED THE FOLLOWING UNDERSTANDING:

I: Definitions

This Memorandum uses the following definitions:

A. "Participants" refers to the signatories to this Memorandum.

B. "Consumer Sentinel" refers to an automated database maintained by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") that stores consumer complaint data and other investigatory information provided by consumers, participating law enforcement agencies, and other contributors about consumer fraud and deception.

C. "Certified Agency" refers to a government agency that: a) is engaged in the enforcement of criminal, civil, or administrative laws and regulations related to consumer protection, including consumer ombudsman's offices, in a Participant's country; and b) has signed an eConsumer.Gov Confidentiality Agreement, a model of which is annexed to this Memorandum (the "Confidentiality Agreement"), or is otherwise a Consumer Sentinel member as defined in the Confidentiality Agreement.
 
D. "eConsumer.Gov Data" consists of consumer complaints about Internet fraud and deception entered directly by consumers through the eConsumer.Gov Web site or provided by data contributors who indicate their intention to make such data available to Certified Agencies participating in the eConsumer.Gov Project.

II: Object and Scope of Project

A. The Participants have decided to participate in a pilot project to develop and maintain:

1. a public Web site where consumers can find relevant consumer information materials, obtain contact information on consumer protection agencies in participating countries, and submit complaints about online and related transactions with an international component (the "Public Site"); and
 
2. a non-public, password protected Web site where Certified Agencies can access eConsumer.Gov Data (the "Government Site").

B. This Memorandum is not intended to give rise to any rights on the part of any private person.

III. Scope of Participation

A. Public Site

1. Each Participant intends to:
 
i) provide input regarding the content of the Public Site;
 
ii) publicize the Public Site, and provide a hyperlink to the Public Site from its own Web sites;
 
iii) provide content for country-specific Web pages ("Bridge Pages") on the Public Site, which may consist of links to appropriate Web sites already functioning in a Participant's country, including:
 
(1) a Bridge Page providing contact information on consumer protection authorities in the Participant's country,
 
(2) a Bridge Page providing information about consumer protection in the Participant's country, and
 
(3) for those countries having Certified Agencies with access to data through the Government Site, a Bridge Page providing information about how those agencies will handle such data;
 
iv) explore the possibility of providing support for translating the content of the Public Site into the language spoken in the Participant's country; and
 
v) provide additional support as described on the signature pages of this Memorandum.
 
2. The FTC, which will maintain control over the content of the Public Site and the data collected, intends to:
 
i) host and maintain the Public Site,
 
ii) develop and make available the Public Site complaint form, and
 
iii) collect the data entered through the complaint form or provided by Participants.

B. Government Site

1. Each Participant intends to:
 
i) encourage consumer protection law enforcement officials from their countries to consider signing the Confidentiality Agreement,
 
ii) explore the possibility of participating in the quality assurance process with respect to incoming complaints, to ensure the integrity of the database,
 
iii) explore the possibility of providing support for translating the content of the Government Site into the language spoken in Participant's country, and
 
iv) provide additional support as described on the signature pages of this Memorandum.
 
2. The FTC, which will maintain control over the content of and access to the Government Site, intends to:
 
i) host and maintain the Government Site, as part of the Consumer Sentinel Network,
 
ii) make eConsumer.Gov Data available to officials from Certified Agencies in accordance with the Confidentiality Agreement, and
 
iii) provide aggregate statistical data culled from the eConsumer.Gov Data to Participants, including Participants who are not Certified Agencies.

IV: Duration of Participation

A. Participants expect to launch the Public Site in April 2001 in connection with the meeting of the International Marketing Supervision Network, and to implement additional aspects of the Project over the course of the subsequent months.

B. The eConsumer.Gov Project is a pilot project. Participants intend to review the efficacy and value of the Project periodically over the next 12 to 24 months, and after that determine whether the Project should be modified in any way.

C. A Participant should endeavor to provide 60 days written notice if it is ending its participation under this Memorandum.

V: Language of Memorandum

This Memorandum is signed in the English and French languages.

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

Create a link to eConsumer.Gov from its own site
Signed:

_______________________________
Mr Brian Cassidy
Chief Executive Officer
For: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Australia

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Signed:

_______________________________
Raymond F. Pierce
Acting Deputy Commissioner
Fair Business Practices Branch
Competition Bureau
Industry Canada

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

Pay for the currency conversion for 1 year (the first year),
 
Provide support for processing data provided by Danish consumers,
 
Link to the website and invite other relevant parties to link,
 
Collaborate on developing education materials on the site, and
 
Translate relevant material into Danish
Signed:

_______________________________
Hagen Joergensen
Consumer Ombudsman
Denmark

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

Provide translation support for the Finnish language.
 
Participate to cover the costs of currency conversion.
Signed:

_______________________________
Erik Mickwitz
The Consumer Ombudsman
Finland

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Signed:

_______________________________
Dr. Gábor Huszay
Director General
General Inspectorate for Consumer Protection
Hungary

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

Provide translation support for the Korean language.
 
Link to the site
Signed:

_______________________________
Sung Jin Kang, Director
Cyber Consumer Center
Korea Consumer Protection Board
Republic of Korea

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

Link the Ministry of Consumer Affairs website to the econsumer.Gov Public site
 
Encourage other New Zealand government and non-government agencies to link to the econsumer.Gov Public Site
Signed:

_______________________________
Keith Manch, General Manager
Ministry of Consumer Affairs
New Zealand

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

we will establish a link from our home page www.forbrukerombudet.no to the public site ecoonsumer.gov
 
we are willing to pay a part of the currency conversion utility cost
 
during the previous imsn-europe meeting (March 2001 in Brussels)a working group consisting of the EU commission, UK and Norway was established to continue the work on the European site. We wish to ensure communication and cooperation between the two groups/systems as necessary and will do our best to contribute to this as we go along
Signed:

_______________________________
Bjørn Erik Thon
Consumer Ombudsman
Norway

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

Provide input as to the content of the "econsumer.gov" public site and publicise and provide a hyperlink to this site from our organisation's site.
Signed:

_______________________________
Risaburo Nezu, Director
Directorate for Science Technology and Industry
Organisation for Economic Co-ooperation and Development

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

Provide translation support for the Swedish language.
Signed:

_______________________________
Karin Lindell
General director/Consumer Ombudsman
Swedish Consumer Agency/Consumer Ombudsman
Sweden

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Pursuant to Paragraphs (A)(1)(v) and (B)(1)(iv), the undersigned intends to:

Provide translation support for the German language.
 
Cover the entire costs of currency conversion for the year 2002.
 
Provide input regarding data of Swiss companies and persons only in accordance with the Swiss Federal Law on Data Protection.
Signed:

_______________________________
Oscar Zosso, Ambassador
Associate Director, Sectoral Policy Issues
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs seco
Switzerland

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Signed:

_______________________________
Caroline Banks
Director of Consumer Affairs
Office of Fair Trading
United Kingdom

Date:

_____________

SIGNATURE PAGE FOR THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MARKETING SUPERVISION NETWORK AND AFFILIATED AGENCIES ON PARTICIPATION IN THE "ECONSUMER.GOV" PILOT PROJECT

Additional members of the IMSN/RICC, and government agencies participating in the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, may become participants in the eConsumer.gov Project by executing this Memorandum. Other government entities may become participants in the Project by executing this Memorandum as long as no Participant objects.

Signed:

_______________________________
Robert Pitofsky
Chairman
Federal Trade Commission
United States

Date:

_____________

Annex

Model Consumer Sentinel Network Confidentiality Agreement

in Connection with Memorandum of Understanding Between Certain Members of the International Marketing Supervision Network and Affiliated Agencies on Participation in the "eConsumer.Gov" Pilot Project ("eConsumer.Gov Confidentiality Agreement")

This agreement is entered into between the United States Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") and the [Insert Name of Agency] ("signing party"), and in furtherance of the Memorandum to Participate in the eConsumer.Gov Project ("eConsumer.Gov Memorandum"), signed on April __, 2001. The purpose of this agreement is to facilitate the confidential exchange of consumer complaint information, including information about cross-border consumer fraud and deception perpetrated through the Internet, under the conditions set forth below.

The Consumer Sentinel Network

1. The FTC, in conjunction with various other government and private organizations, has developed Consumer Sentinel, an automated database maintained by the FTC that stores consumer complaint data and other investigatory information provided by consumers, participating law enforcement agencies, and other contributors about consumer fraud and deception. Pursuant to the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, 18 U.S.C. § 1028, the FTC also has developed the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse--an automated database to store investigatory information provided by consumers, participating law enforcement agencies, and other contributors about identity theft. The information contained in the both databases is known collectively as Consumer Sentinel Network information. The FTC makes information contained in Consumer Sentinel and the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse available through the "Consumer Sentinel Network."

2. The Consumer Sentinel Network is an international, multi-agency project, maintained by the FTC, whose partners include the National Association of Attorneys General, the National Consumers League, Better Business Bureaus, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Canada's PhoneBusters, the San Diego Boiler Room Task Force, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. This information exchange program is consistent with Section 6 (f) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. § 46(f), Commission Rules 4.6, 4.10, and 4.11(c) and (d), 16 C.F.R. §§ 4.6, 4.10, and 4.11(c) and (d) (2000), and the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, 5 U.S.C. § 552a.

3. The information contained in the Consumer Sentinel Network does not include confidential commercial material, but is limited to information derived primarily from consumer complaints and other information gathered during identity theft, fraud, and other consumer protection investigations. This information may include, among other things, the names of companies and company representatives; the identity of the products or services involved; the status of ongoing law enforcement actions; and the names and telephone numbers of assigned staff.

Data Contribution

4. The primary source of data for the eConsumer.Gov Project are consumers worldwide who provide complaint information for the Network through the eConsumer.Gov online complaint form. The signing party and other data contributors also may enter relevant information into the Network through the use of computer terminals located in their offices or by providing such information to the FTC or its designated agent, who will input such data into the system. Where necessary, the FTC or its designated agent subsequently loads this information into the automated databases. The incoming data and automated databases are controlled by the FTC.

5. Consistent with its national laws, law enforcement policies, and other practices, the signing party undertakes to explore the provision of relevant and appropriate consumer complaints and other information for inclusion in the Network.

Access to Consumer Sentinel Network Information

Information in the Consumer Sentinel Network shall be made available as follows:

6. Unless set forth by separate agreement or otherwise decided by the FTC, the signing party will have access only to complaint data entered directly by consumers through the eConsumer.Gov Internet Web site, entered by the signing party, or provided by data contributors who indicate their intention to make such data available to participants in the eConsumer.Gov Project (collectively "eConsumer.Gov Data").

7. Appropriate eConsumer.Gov Data will become part of the Consumer Sentinel database. eConsumer.Gov Data will be made available through the Consumer Sentinel Network to Consumer Sentinel members, defined as entities that (a) are law enforcement agencies, which may include regulatory agencies or consumer ombudsman's offices; and (b) have signed the eConsumer.Gov Confidentiality Agreement or another Consumer Sentinel confidentiality agreement.

Confidentiality and Use of Consumer Sentinel Network Information

8. All parties participating in this information exchange system do so with the understanding that all Consumer Sentinel Network information will be kept confidential. In particular, the signing party agrees not to release information contained in the Network to anyone other than its employees, consultants, and contractors, or bona fide law enforcement agency personnel who are bound by this agreement and have a need to know such information.

9. The signing party is a law enforcement agency, which may include a regulatory agency or consumer ombudsman's office, and agrees to use the Consumer Sentinel Network information to which it has access under paragraph 6 of this agreement only in connection with such law enforcement purposes.

10. Except as required or authorized by law, otherwise set forth in this agreement, or otherwise agreed to with the entity contributing data, the FTC agrees not to release information either (a) obtained through the eConsumer.Gov Web site or (b) provided by Consumer Sentinel members as part of the eConsumer.Gov Project, to anyone other than law enforcement members of Consumer Sentinel and their employees, consultants, and contractors, with a need to know such information.

11. Should the FTC receive an official request from another law enforcement agency or the U.S. Congress(1) or be directed to furnish information in the Consumer Sentinel Network to a non-participant by a court of competent jurisdiction, the FTC may furnish that information subject to applicable statutory restrictions and in a manner consistent with the need to preserve the confidentiality of that information. In addition, the FTC may release certain information in compliance with requests under the United States Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (1994 & Supp. IV 1998). The FTC also will make aggregate statistics available to Consumer Sentinel members upon request and will continue to release trend data to the general public.

12. The signing party agrees that should it receive a request for access to this material or should that information become subject to compulsory process, it will immediately notify the FTC contact person as set forth in Paragraph 13 of this agreement of these facts so that a timely decision can be made on whether to furnish the requested information and, if the information is to be furnished, how to furnish it in a manner that will preserve its confidentiality.

13. The FTC has appointed the Associate Director for Planning and Information, Bureau of Consumer Protection, to be its contact person for purposes of this information exchange program. This official is responsible for ensuring the confidentiality of the information contained in the Consumer Sentinel Network and, in appropriate circumstances as required or authorized by law, for authorizing Consumer Sentinel members to make further disclosures of the material in response to requests for access or compulsory process. Also, the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, subject to re-delegation, may respond to access requests from non-U.S. entities for certain information on consumer protection pursuant to the delegation authority set forth at 62 Fed. Reg. 15185 (1997).

14. This contractual agreement is governed by the laws of the United States, where the Consumer Sentinel database is located.

15. The FTC may revoke access to information in the Consumer Sentinel Network if the signing party breaches any of the terms of this agreement.

____________________________________________ agrees to the above conditions.

Signature _____________________________________

Name ________________________________________

Title _________________________________________

Address__________________________________________________________

Telephone _______________________________________________________________

Fax ____________________________________________________________________

Email __________________________________________________________________

Dated ________________________________________

_____________________________________
Hugh Stevenson
Associate Director, Division of Planning and Information,
Bureau of Consumer Protection, for the
Federal Trade Commission

Dated: ________________________________

1. It is the FTC's policy to provide information to Congress upon official request, although the FTC will request that the confidentiality of the information be maintained.