World Consumer Rights Day: Trusted smart products
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World Consumer Rights Day: Trusted smart products

The MCCAA conference on trusted smart products focused on the benefits and threats of connected technologies.

The MCCAA conference on trusted smart products focused on the benefits and threats of connected technologies.

The Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority held a conference on ‘Trusted smart products’ to mark this year’s World Consumer Rights Day on March 15.

Parliamentary Secretary for Consumer Rights, Public Cleansing and Support for the Capital City, Deo Debattista, said smart technology had become an integral part of our everyday lives and we were increasingly becoming dependent on smart devices.

He also spoke about the benefits of smart technology for consumers, which introduced a new product choice that increased convenience and personalisation. Dr Debattista also outlined possible threats of connected technologies.

“Unsecure smart devices expose us to cyberattacks and jeopardise the safety of consumers,” he said, adding that the MCCAA had been working with other Member States and secured the necessary support for the ‘New Deal’ EU legislation, which revisits consumer legislation to ensure that consumers continued to have their rights protected in the face of this changing environment. 

MCCAA chairwoman Helga Pizzuto emphasised the important role of the authority in ensuring that consumers were well informed of potential risks arising from smart connected products.

In this way customers could fully benefit from the connected world they were living in without falling victim to security and privacy attacks.

“As regulators we have the responsibility to ensure that consumers are aware of both the benefits and threats of using intelligent devices so that they can make the right choices and maximise the benefits of technology.”

Speakers from the European Commission, the University of Malta, the police force, the Information and Data Protection Commission and the GRTU, together with consumer law experts, discussed the effect of smart technology on consumers’ everyday lives. The users’ privacy and safety was also a key topic of discussion, with the importance for full awareness of personal data use underlined.

Speakers also provided insight into the legislative changes that are under way or that need to be implemented to ensure effective protection. Ms Pizzuto pointed out that when carrying out the required legal changes we needed to be pro-active and anticipate future problems, hence avoiding incident-driven regulation.

The conference reinforced collaboration among relevant stakeholders to ensure stronger consumer protection and empowerment.

Odette Vella is director, Information, Education and  Research Directorate, Office for Consumer Affairs, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.

odette.vella@mccaa.org.mt

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