Technology and the Future of Online Dispute Resolution Platforms for Consumer Protection Agencies

In the age of rapid technological advancements, online dispute resolution (ODR) platforms have become increasingly vital for addressing consumer disputes effectively and efficiently. Consumer ODR consists of mechanisms for resolving disputes facilitated through the use of electronic communications and other information and communication technology.

Since 2020, UNCTAD has been working on a Technical Cooperation Project funded by the China Silk Road Group titled “Digital Trading Infrastructure and Online Dispute Resolution for Consumers as mean to improve international trade and electronic Commerce”.

In the ambit of this project, UNCTAD conducted research to provide an updated picture of current global consumer online dispute resolution systems, identifying best practices and lessons learnt.

In the course of this research, it became apparent that the existing systems run by consumer protection agencies from member States could be vastly improved with emerging technology.

This paper explores the impact of technology on the future of ODR platforms, particularly in relation to consumer protection agencies. By referencing the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, and UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Consumer Protection Law and Policy, we aim to provide insights into how emerging technologies can enhance ODR processes, better safeguard consumer rights, and ensure that consumer protection agencies can adapt and thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.