The Department of Trade and Industry today launched its consultation on the draft regulations for the implementation of the EU E-commerce Directive to give businesses and consumers the opportunity to have their say.

"Anyone who is interested, from small businesses to consumers, needs to be involved in this process. It's the only way we can create a productive e-commerce environment," said a DTI spokesman.

As a refreshing change, when it comes to the DTI these aren't empty words — the department has had to change the draft acts before because of public, corporate pressure.

This latest discussion offers all internet users the opportunity to comment on how e-commerce could be improved between member states, from the legal responsibilities of ISPs to how email marketing, known as spam mail, could be handled most effectively.

"Parts [of the directive] are as intrusive to consumers as they are protective," said a spokesman at the Internet Service Providers Association. "But the more consultation we have the more effective the directive will become for everyone involved."

The E-commerce Directive was agreed in June 2000 and should be fully implemented by the end of this year, once the consultation process is complete.

The directive lays down guidelines on the information that ISPs must give a consumer, the information that must be given in online advertising and the creation of a national law that will apply to all online services.

"The law can be a little unclear with when it comes to online sales, whereas the rules for person-to-person sales are far more clear cut. Hopefully this will iron out the problems and make our job a lot easier," said Mel Jennings, a solicitor with law firm Lee Crowder.

All previous discussions on the directive and the opportunity to add your suggestions are at