On Thursday June 22, the Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) released its Consultation Paper on Consumer Protection in the Digital Marketplace.  A copy of the paper is available here.

This project considers how to improve consumer protections for digital terms of service (ToS) contracts.

Hardly a day goes by that consumers in Ontario are not asked to click, tap, scan, or otherwise confirm “I ACCEPT” for an online product or service.

ToS contracts are meant to be a fast, efficient, and transparent way to facilitate high-volume, routine consumer transactions in the digital marketplace.

At the same time, many consumers do not read or understand what they are agreeing to. Online ToS contracts can be long, confusing, or misleading. New technology and deceptive “dark pattern” software design and contracting practices can also undermine traditional consumer protections.

The LCO’s project considers if or how Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act should be updated to better protect consumers against new, complex, and expansive consumer risks in the digital economy.  The issues and proposals discussed are often described as a “new consumer agenda” which has gained significant momentum in the United States, European Union, and the UK.

A complete list of consultation questions is available here.

More information about the project is available on the LCO’s Consumer Protection project page, available here.