Consumer protection and the regulator, this time in the Pacific

Posted on April 12, 2014  /  0 Comments

The Pacific Islands Telecom Association (PITA) and the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center (PiRRC) co-organized several sessions on policy and regulatory issues at the annual PITA convention held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, April 8-11.

Here is the slideset I used in proposing that PiRRC and/or the region’s regulators establish an evidence base for their work on consumer protection. I did not have Pacific data, but used LIRNEasia research from South Asia.

It was well received, with one multi-sector regulator asking for more information, which is collated together here.

There was an interesting question from the floor, where a former developed-country regulator questioned the relevance of our approach, saying that with quality information now being available on the web, the old “buyer beware” principle had to be replaced by “seller beware.”

I responded pointing to the data that people at the bottom of the pyramid in particular did not access the Internet in large numbers (as shown in our findings that he had just seen), even if the requisite information was available on the web (which it was not). I pointed to issues of literacy in English and differing levels of comfort with written material in different countries. I thanked the questioner for beautifully illustrating a central tenet of our work, which was that developed-country thinking, assumptions and solutions could not be transplanted wholesale into developing country settings without first examining the local conditions, ideally through the kinds of research we were recommending.

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