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ISO Consumer update

No. 01 - December 2009

….An update of ISO's activities regarding standards and consumer protection, for the members and stakeholders of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).

ISO/COPOLCO is ISO's forum for promoting consumer interests in standardization. Its mission is to:

  • Enhance the market relevance of International Standards by promoting and facilitating the input of consumers' views into ISO's policies, procedures, standards and services
  • Help consumers around the world benefit from standardization.


You are receiving this eNewsletter because you are involved in the activities of ISO/COPOLCO.

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Contents

 

What's happening …

ISO/COPOLCO plenary annual events to take place in Indonesia in 2010

The ISO/COPOLCO plenary meeting and related events will be held in Bali, Indonesia from 25-28 May 2010, at the kind invitation of the National Standardization Agency of Indonesia (BSN).  See below: COPOLCO member news, Indonesia, for more details.

 

The ISO Concept Database (ISO/CDB) will benefit standards users and developers

ISO has launched a new database that will make the benefits of using standards easier to achieve, provide users with new possibilities for achieving such benefits and cut the time necessary to develop and revise standards.

For more, follow this link.

 

Comprehensive survey on use of ISO toy safety standard

ISO/COPOLCO and the ISO Committee on developing country matters (ISO/DEVCO) conducted a joint survey of their members to evaluate both the extent to which ISO 8124, Safety of toys has been implemented internationally, and the reasons for its non-use. Forty-five countries have responded to this survey, and the COPOLCO Secretariat has just finished compiling the results, which will be available by end 2009. The COPOLCO working group on Product Safety will consider these results and develop recommendations for COPOLCO to discuss at its plenary meeting in May 2010.

 

Survey supports development of guidance on product guarantees

During 2009, ISO/COPOLCO responded to a request by its member from Egypt (EOS) to study currently-existing legislation and national standards for the product guarantees and warranties, to assess whether some international guidance in this area would be helpful.  The results of a survey to the members of ISO/COPOLCO, ISO/DEVCO and Consumers International showed that a large majority of respondents supported this initiative.

Further analysis is needed of the results before deciding on the nature, scope and likely content for any International Standard or guidance. A task group under the COPOLCO working group, Consumer protection in the global marketplace is being formed now for this purpose.

Nominations would be particularly welcome from national standards bodies (including representatives from affiliated consumer groups or government departments) of developing countries, and those countries having indicated their support for an International Standard in this area. The group is actively seeking a project leader.

If interested in nominating an expert or project leader, contact copolco@iso.org.

 

Ethical trade issues

Ethical trade workshop

On 12-13 October 2009, some 70 participants took part in a lively and highly interactive two-day multi-stakeholder roundtable in The Hague, entitled, Assuring consumer confidence in ethical trade. This event was hosted by the Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN) and coordinated by a steering group of experts taking part in a collaborative research effort, called ETFP*, with financial support from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

One objective was to reach a common understanding of ethical claims and to explore the significance for consumers of the great number and variety of different types of ethical claims for products on the market.  

The roundtable is part of a more general effort to investigate how to build confidence in purchasing ethically traded products and services and to recommend solutions for reducing the potential for consumer confusion arising from inaccurate and unreliable ethical claims.

For more information, contact copolco@iso.org.

* The members of the Ethical Trade Fact-finding Process (ETFP) come from Consumers International (CI), the French national standards body (AFNOR), the Brazilian national standards body (ABNT), the ISEAL Alliance and two fair trade organizations, Fair Trade Labelling Organization and the World Fair Trade Organisation (Fair Trade Advocacy Office), with the Secretary of COPOLCO as observer.

 

Consumers' rights in financial services

On 15 March 2010, Consumers International will dedicate its annual World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) to the theme, Our money, our rights. This event will mark the conclusion and synthesis of many national campaigns organized by the members of Consumers International. These campaigns are based on past and ongoing studies at national and international levels. 

Consumer Rights Day 2010 will address consumer problems and priorities with financial services, and raise consumers' awareness of their rights. Important areas include

  • Consumer credit
  • Mortgage loans
  • Small business loans including micro-credit
  • Basic banking account services
  • New e-tech-driven financial services such as mobile phone payment facilities.

Some of the most compelling issues for consumers involve equitable access to financial services, clear definitions, transparency of information regarding contract terms and conditions; and comparability of financial services – ultimately allowing consumers to make informed choices. 

For more information on WCRD 2010, consult Consumers International's Web site under at www.consumersinternational.org (About CI…WCRD).

 

ISO consumer directory goes online

ISO has launched an online directory giving a cross-section of consumers' involvement in its work. The new directory provides enhanced, easily updatable information on the state of consumer participation in standards setting, particularly in the priority areas identified by the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).

Data supplied by ISO members is automatically integrated into the online directory, providing real-time information on consumer participation organized by priority area or by country. A query page allows users to generate listings of standards or standards under development within each priority. Access this publicly available resource at www.iso.org/isoconsumerdirectory.

 

What's new in International Standards

ISO publishes a new standard facilitating ICT accessibility

People with disabilities (e.g. visual, hearing, physical) can experience difficulties in accessing computers and other information/communication technology (ICT) devices. Accessible user interfaces, as defined in ISO/IEC 24786:2009, Information technology – User interfaces – Accessible user interface for accessibility settings, can help them to operate computers if they are able to adjust accessibility settings prior to use. If this is not possible, some people will not be able to access these devices without help from another party.

ISO/IEC 24786:2009 specifies requirements and recommendations for making information technologies more accessible by ensuring that people with disabilities can adjust accessibility settings by themselves.

 

ISO standardization initiative to facilitate eHealth in developing countries

Doctor using a computerISO will develop a technical report (TR) to help emerging and developing countries implement a solid and internationally harmonized health informatics system. The report will present information in an accessible way to guide and facilitate the adoption of relevant International Standards by countries with limited resources and infrastructure.

The document, ISO/TR 14639 is being produced in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) with the aim of making International Standards more accessible to developing countries.  

ISO/TR 14639 will promote the construction of eHealth systems that facilitate access to relevant research, information and education materials for managers, providers, researchers and the general population.

 It will also help improve health service delivery, support the work of health professionals and contribute to health promotion and preventative interventions in resource-poor environments. The document will be an essential resource to system designers, developers and implementers.

For more, follow this link

 

ISO standards support objectives of World Food Day 2009 on food security 

Numerous ISO standards provide practical tools for achieving the aims of World Food Day 2009, "Achieving food security in times of crisis".
World Food Day is organized every year on 16 October by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), which participates in the work of 24 ISO standards-developing technical committees or subcommittees and follows the work of another 16.

For more, follow this link.

 

A new ISO report will contribute to making escape from buildings easier when fire breaks out

A new ISO technical report on how people behave when fire breaks out will help in designing safer buildings that make escape easier and reduce exposure to flames and heat.

ISO/TR 16738:2009, Fire-safety engineering – Technical information on methods for evaluating behaviour and movement of people, provides information on engineering methods used for the evaluation of life-safety aspects of fire-safety engineering design for built environments, including structures such as tunnels, underground complexes, ships and vehicles.

For more, follow this link

 

ISO shines new light on sun protection methods

Woman sitting on a beachA new ISO technical report which compiles the most commonly used methods for assessing the protection levels of sunscreens will make it easier to evaluate the numerous tests on the market.

ISO/TR 26369:2009, Cosmetics – Sun protection test methods – Review and evaluation of methods to assess the photo protection of sun protection products, will contribute to both regulatory and private sector objectives, benefiting public authorities, industry and consumer associations.

For more, follow this link.

 

Safer scuba diving with two new ISO standards 

Two new ISO standards will make scuba diving training programmes safer for both newcomers to the sport as well as more experienced divers have been recently published. The standards are aimed, respectively, at introductory scuba experience training programmes to non-divers and advanced programmes that deliver enriched air nitrox (EAN) diver certification.

The passion for outdoor activities and the motivation to discover the most preserved natural environment possible make scuba diving an increasing leisure activity worldwide.

International Standards ISO 11121:2009, Recreational diving services – Requirements for introductory training programmes to scuba diving, and ISO 11107:2009, Recreational diving services – Requirements for training programmes on enriched air nitrox (EAN) diving, answer the needs of this expanding market where competent training is essential.

For more, follow this link.

 

Around the world … COPOLCO member news

AUSTRALIA

Unified national consumer protection law

Australia is in the process of introducing a single national consumer law that will replace 13 different consumer protection laws.  The first parts of the new law deal with unfair contract terms and are currently in parliament.  A second Bill, to be introduced in 2010, will implement a national approach to consumer product safety, replacing the current State-by-State approach to regulation. 

Many of Australia's current national mandatory product safety regulations refer to or are based on Australian Standards, to which Australian consumer representatives have contributed.

New national standards for consumer protection

Solaria for cosmetic purposes

The revision of a standard, AS/NZS 2635:2008, Solaria for cosmetic purposes, was a landmark development for public health and consumer protection in Australia. It has been called up in legislation within Australia's two most populous states, with others expected to follow.

Features of the revised standard include a minimum age requirement for use (18 and over), banning unsupervised operations, minimum training requirements for use of equipment, mandatory assessment of skin type, use of consent forms, use of protective eyewear and banning of claims to non-cosmetic health benefits.

Construction in bushfire-prone areas

The revision of AS 3959–2009, Construction of buildings in bushfire prone areas, was developed to assist in rebuilding townships devastated by fatal bush fires in Victoria in February 2009.  It covers assessment of the risk of bushfire attack and outlines construction requirements for buildings designated in bushfire-prone areas.  

Organic and biodynamic products

Australia's first domestic standard for organic and biodynamic products, AS 6000-2009, outlines the minimum requirements to be met by growers and manufacturers wishing to label their products "organic" and "biodynamic". It establishes an agreed set of procedures to be followed for the production, preparation, transportation, marketing and labelling of organic and biodynamic products including food, processed food and cosmetics.

 

CANADA

Standards Council of Canada

New framework for product safety

The Canadian Senate will shortly approve Consumer Product Safety Act, Bill C-6, with the expectation that it would become law by end 2009.

The Government of Canada first introduced the bill on 29 January 2009. It is intended to replace Part 1 of the Hazardous Products Act, and introduces a new legislative framework for consumer products in Canada. This new Act will modernize and strengthen the product safety laws.

It introduces a general prohibition on products presenting an unreasonable danger, makes the sale of recalled products illegal, requires mandatory reporting of serious incidents by industry, and gives inspectors authority to order recalls and other corrective measures for unsafe products.

In preparation for the incoming legislation and with similar legislation having been approved in the US in 2008, the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO) hosted its first meeting in Canada on 26-28 October 2009. With the support of its co-hosts, the Canadian Standards Association and Health Canada, ICPHSO brought some of the world’s leading consumer product safety experts to Toronto.

In particular, Health Canada and the Consumer and Product Safety Commission (CPSC) informed participants on cooperative efforts to promote consumer safety, including joint recalls throughout North America.

 

INDONESIA

BSN to host 32nd COPOLCO meeting

The National Standardization Agency of Indonesia (BSN) will be the host of the 32nd ISO/COPOLCO plenary meeting, workshop and related events taking place during the last week of May 2010. Highlights of this week include a planned international workshop on financial services, on 26 May, and the COPOLCO plenary meeting on 27-28 May.

BSN has recently taken a number of other steps to raise the profile of consumers' interests in standards development and policy. Notably, the agency has upgraded its membership in COPOLCO to participating ("P") membership, and has established a consumer mirror committee within BSN, consisting of representatives of the general public, academia, consumer organizations and other organizations which are interested in consumer issues.

These actions reflect an increasing interest in extending the rights already established under Indonesian legislation (for example for safety, choice, information, education, and redress, when buying and consuming goods and services) into standardization. BSN is now paying increasing attention to standards as a support to legislation, in ensuring the fitness for purpose, safety and informed choice of products for consumers.

BSN has also recently joined ISO project committee ISO/PC 239, Network services billing.

 


UNITED KINGDOM

Raising the profile of Accessibility

Alongside the ongoing work on safety, the Consumer and Public Interest (CPI) Network of the British Standards Institution (BSI) has identified sustainability, security, accessibility, and services standardization as priority areas.

Regarding accessibility, the CPI Network has recently established the Disabled Experts Reference Group (DERG), a diverse group of disabled persons with appropriate expertise, whose aims include increasing the relevance of standards to the disabled.

According to the group's project leader, "When I joined BSI, I realized that there were a lot of knowledgeable people providing input to standards. The voice of disabled experts seemed not to be present, however, so I decided to work with the BSI-CPIN to set up the Disabled Expert Reference Group.

"I want to see the group providing opportunities for disabled professionals who have the relevant experience and knowledge to input into the standards process, but who also bring to that the added dimension of being disabled and being committed to a disability equality perspective".

For more, follow this link

 

UNITED STATES

Breaking new ground on identity theft issues

The Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Management Standards Panel (IDSP) released a workshop report on 28 October calling for the development of an American National Standard on identity verification as a tool to help combat terrorism and identity theft.

The IDSP workshop and report were driven by recognized vulnerabilities in the issuance of foundational documents used to prove identity, in particular the birth certificate. Since agencies typically rely on, but do not verify, birth certificates and other source credentials such as driver’s licenses and Social Security cards used to establish identity, there is a loophole where identity theft and fraud can occur.

The workshop report is freely available for download at http://webstore.ansi.org/identitytheft

Administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the IDSP is a partnership between the private and public sector with the overarching goal of reducing the threat of identity theft and fraud in the marketplace.

Note: reproduced from an ANSI press release.
 

Did you know …?

Australians have the highest rate of skin cancers in the world and sun protection is a priority public health issue.

Traditionally, Australian sunscreen tests have been at variance to those used in other parts of the world and can produce different ratings.  Therefore, input into internationally harmonized standards is important. Reproducible international test methods which do not rely on human test subjects are also significant, for ethical reasons.
Australia sends a consumer representative to ISO TC 217/WG 7, Sun protection test methods.

Also to note:

The British Standards Institution's Consumer and Public Interest Committee has updated its publication, Top Ten Standards that matter to consumers. The new version includes a section on how standards can be part of consumer organizations’ tools for tackling consumer detriment.

Also see: http://www.bsigroup.com/en/Standards-and-Publications/How-we-can-help-you/Consumers/Top-ten-standards-that-matter-to-consumers/

 

To find out more...

Visit us in the consumer section of ISO's Web site, ISO Online, www.iso.org. Consult: "Resources for ….. Consumers".

Is the ISO member in your country a member of COPOLCO? If not, encourage this national standards body to join COPOLCO!

For a full list of ISO members, see http://www.iso.org/iso/about/iso_members.htm.

Is your organization a member of Consumers International? Find CI at www.consumersinternational.org.

Questions? Comments? News to share? Subscription requests?
We would like to hear from you!  Contact us at copolco@iso.org.

 

ISO Consumer update is a free service by the Secretariat of the ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO).
Editor: Ms. Dana Kissinger-Matray, Secretary of ISO/COPOLCO.

ISO Consumer update gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the Marketing, Communication and Information services of the ISO Central Secretariat.

 
 

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