Consumer advocate Nader calls for protection group

By Reuters, InfoWorld |  Business

(REUTERS) -- Consumer advocate Ralph Nader on Wednesday called for a worldwide consumer protection organization to counteract threats posed by increased global trade and Internet-based fraud.

Because the Internet enables con artists to defraud consumers on a greater scale across international borders, nations need to forge treaties that would regulate electronic commerce, protect privacy and encourage competitive markets, the former U.S. presidential candidate said.

"The technology of the Internet is way ahead of any legal framework, or any ethical framework, or any public awareness" of the potential liabilities consumers face, he said.

Furthermore, Nader said, there is no group in place to speak for consumers in the global marketplace.

Speaking at a forum at the National Press Club, Nader said international bodies like the World Trade Organization cannot effectively look out for the rights of consumers.

"Trade judges, who aside from their position (which is) trade uber alles, are not equipped to deal with these issues," he said.

Nader, who received 3 percent of the popular vote in the November election, said he did not think President-elect George W. Bush would be any more or less sympathetic to consumer issues than the outgoing Clinton Administration, but that public pressure for action will increase.

"The problem is going to get worse. That's what's going to push the Bush Administration," he said.

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