Should consumer information be more focussed on the end user?

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Although it’s been around for a few months, I’ve only just discovered Natali Helberger’s paper for BEUC Forms matter: informing consumers effectively.

It’s about consumer information across all sectors, but is doubly important for us in ICT: both because the offers our consumers have to contend with are among the most complex (second only to financial services?), and because Natali thinks that ICT provides the way forward.

The paper stresses that informing consumers does not automatically lead to informed consumers, with behavioural research throwing useful light on how and when information should be made available to be most effective.


Natali proposes thinking in terms of two levels of transparency, public and private –with public transparency primarily targeting professionals who can handle all the data (though available to anyone), while private transparency targets individuals with the limited but essential set of things they need to know. Private transparency would be managed by smart ICT on behalf of each consumer.

I would love to know what Advisory Committee members make of these ideas. Should this happen? Will it happen? And if it does, what can we do about people who don’t have, or don’t correctly manage, the necessary smart ICT tools?

Claire Milne is Chair of the Consumer Forum for Communications