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ISO COPOLCO Re-affirms Its Commitment to Representing Consumer Views in Standardization

New York, Jun 15, 2009

At its 31st meeting held May 27-28, 2009, in New Delhi, India, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO) ratified its existing charter to serve as an advocate for consumer concerns in standardization.

Responding to a request from the ISO Council that COPOLCO explore a possible expansion of its scope and participation in light of the evolution of ISO’s work program to issues of societal concern, COPOLCO acknowledged that the committee covers a broad range of issues of concern to both consumers and other public interests in the twenty-first century. Noting that it has always addressed these issues from the perspective of the consumer, COPOLCO confirmed its support for maintaining its existing terms of reference and consumer focus. It also encouraged ISO members to participate in COPOLCO and to support the active participation of consumer organizations in COPOLCO’s work. At the same time, the committee acknowledged the contributions that public interest organizations can make by providing information and expertise on subjects of concern to consumers and COPOLCO. It invited COPOLCO members to consider involving public interest organizations in the committee’s activities as appropriate. The committee also called for criteria to be established with respect to any organizations wanting to enter into future liaison arrangements with COPOLCO.

In a related development, COPOLCO discussed lessons learned and future challenges associated with the ISO Strategic Plan. COPOLCO encouraged ISO to draw useful lessons from the innovative structure and working methods of the ISO working group on social responsibility, and its balanced multi-stakeholder approach and operations. Observing that consumer participation is still negatively impacted by lack of resources, COPOLCO indicated its support for funding mechanisms to reinforce consumer representations, both within international technical committees and at COPOLCO-related meetings. To that end, COPOLCO agreed to develop a funding proposal for consumer participation.

In other developments, a COPOLCO Workshop, Interoperability: Does it fit, will it work and can standards help?, resulted in a call for the development of a COPOLCO guide explaining consumer issues in interoperability and for enhanced cooperation between ISO, IEC, and ITU on such issues. Noting the rapid expansion of goods and services entering the market as a consequence of developments in information and communications technology, COPOLCO also agreed to establish an online discussion forum for consumer stakeholders with the goal of developing a statement of principles on ICT interconnectivity. The statement would address issues such as consumer rights, privacy, net neutrality, and consumer participation in the development of standards relating to these matters.

For additional information about COPOLCO and decisions taken at its recent meeting, please contact James McCabe, ANSI director of consumer relations (; 212-642-8921).

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