As part of its commitment to protect consumers online, the European Commission has co-ordinated a screening (‘sweep’) of websites, with the aim of finding out where consumers in the EU are being subjected to content promoting false claims or scam products in the context of the coronavirus.
The results show that, following the Commission’s call, platforms have removed or blocked millions of misleading advertisements or product listings. The sweep – carried out by the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network – consisted of two parts: a high-level screening of online platforms, and an in-depth analysis of specific advertisements and websites linked to products in high demand because of the coronavirus.
Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “The major online platforms have positively replied to the European Commission’s call to address scams and misleading offers and have shown a clear commitment to remove harmful content. However, as this recent sweep has shown, rogue traders continue to find new ways to exploit consumers’ vulnerabilities, circumvent algorithmic checks and set up new websites. In the midst of a global pandemic, you need to be aware of this as a consumer – there are no miracle online cures. I am grateful that national consumer authorities remain on high alert and are working together with the Commission to protect consumers online.”
The Consumer Protection Authorities of 27 countries participated in the high-level screening of platforms and submitted 126 replies concerning both the companies with which the Commission has been in regular contact and additional national players. Particular attention was given to screening offers linked to protective masks and caps, sanitizing gels, testing kits as well as food, food supplements and non-food products with alleged healing effects related to the coronavirus.