From shopping on-line to listening to music, Information Communications Technologies (ICT) products and services - such as mobile phones and the Internet - play an increasingly essential role in consumers’ everyday lives. However, although they have the potential to improve consumer welfare by making a greater range of products and services available, new technologies pose several challenges in terms of protection of traditional consumer rights in an on-line environment such as private data protection and accessibility by most vulnerable consumers such as elderly people. As a consequence, it is essential the ICT standardisation processes, both formal and non-formal, ensure full and effective consumer participation in order to take consumer requirements into account.

The ANEC Digital Society WG strives to ensure the safety, accessibility, interoperability and privacy of ICT products & services.

Work areas

1) E-accessibility and e-inclusion

Older person using ICT productsThe European Commission e-Inclusion Communication, published in November 2007, recognised the strong evidence showing that voluntary mainstreaming of accessibility in goods and services had not led to significant progress, and in particular that the market had failed to ensure the accessibility of ICT products and services consumers expect. Binding legislation and standards should be seen as complementary instruments. Legislation should set accessibility requirements and the standards are to set specific technical requirements.

This was the main message voiced in two joint ANEC/European Disability Forum (EDF) positions papers on eAccessibility - December 2007 - and on web and eAccessibility legislation - July 2008 -. Later in February 2009, ANEC and EDF decided to join forces with AGE, the European Older People’s Platform, to reiterate the call for eAccessibility legislation (AGE/ANEC/EDF joint position on EC communication on eAccessibility).

In June 2011, we successfully launched our joint campaign “Access denied”.

Web Accessibility Directive

AGE Platform Europe, ANEC, EBU, EDF, four leading European organisations, joined forces to call on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal that delivers web accessibility for all by 2015.

In December 2012, ANEC welcomed the proposal by the European Commission for mandatory provisions on web-accessibility as it took into account many of our suggestions about the use of standards and monitoring of implementation.

Four years later, on 26 October 2016, ANEC welcomed in a press release the adoption of Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies (‘Web Accessibility Directive’), which aims to ensure access to on-line public services to all consumers, regardless of their age or ability. The European Parliament, in agreement with the Council, made significant improvements to the original Commission proposal issued in 2012, in terms of the websites covered and enforcement provisions, as well as the inclusion of access from a handheld mobile device and mobile apps. These improvements are largely in line with ANEC’s position.

The adoption of the Directive brings to a close several years of intensive work by ANEC and its partners in the disability movement, in campaigning for mandatory web-accessibility legislation.

This is a joint priority of the ANEC Digital Society and Accessibility Groups. To learn more about the ‘Access Denied’ campaign and the latest developments, please visit our ‘Accessibility’ page.

The first European Standard for accessible ICT products and services (M/376)

In 2014, ANEC welcomed the adoption of EN 301 549 “Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe” and a series of supporting Technical Reports. The standard was drafted by the CEN/CENELEC/ETSI Joint Working Group, ‘eAccessibility under Mandate M/376’ as part of Phase II of the mandate to which ANEC participated. The set of functional European accessibility requirements for the procurement of products and services in the ICT domain aims to create incentives for manufacturers to develop and offer accessible devices, so benefitting consumers with disabilities and older consumers.

The standard EN 301 549 and technical reports are available on the ETSI website.

Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies (‘Web Accessibility Directive’) makes use of Harmonised Standards to provide a presumption of conformity with its essential requirements.

To this end, a draft Standardisation Request for Harmonised Standards on the accessibility of websites and mobile apps was issued by the EC, with ANEC’s support. In May 2017, it was approved by CEN-CENELEC and the EC Committee on Standards. CEN, CENELEC & ETSI are asked to deliver Harmonised Standard(s) based on EN 301 549 V1.1.2 (2015-04), including any necessary provisions needed to support the implementation of Article 4 of Directive (EU) 2016/2102. ANEC participates in this work which should be finalised in 2018.

ANEC also participates in the work of CEN TC 224 WG 6 ‘User Interface’ on the revision of prEN 1332-3:2016 ‘Identification card system - User Interface-Part 3: Keypads’ by making sure that consumer relevant functionalities including tactile symbols and contrast requirements for blind and partially-sighted persons are taken into account. Similarly, through our involvement in CEN TC 224 WG 18 ‘Biometrics’ and WG 19 ‘Breeder document’, we strive to ensure accessibility of concerned systems and devices.

2) Electronic communications products, networks and services 

Digital products

All consumers should be able to participate in the Digital Society and reap its benefits. Therefore, in ANEC’s opinion, digital products and services need to be safe and accessible for all consumers. However, due to its intrinsic characteristics, such as rapid technological developments and convergence, digital products and services represent a challenge for regulators. The role of standardisation, to ensure that consumers’ interests such as safety, quality of service and accessibility are adequately guaranteed, is crucial.

New Radio Equipment Directive

The Radio Equipment Directive (RED) (Directive 2014/53/EU), which replaced the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) (Directive 1999/5/EC) in June 2016, sets safety, interoperability and accessibility requirements to be complemented by the adoption of standards for products such as music players and mobile phones. The new RED allows the European Commission to request interoperability of mobile phones and other devices with universal chargers, a long-standing request of the consumer movement. In addition, the RED provides for additional means for market surveillance in order to track and monitor products which fail to comply with the essential requirements. And the concept of “foreseeable use” must be taken into account for conformity assessment. All these points were supported and proposed by ANEC. A new standardisation request (M/536) to implement the RED was issued by the Commission, and the ESOs’ work, which ANEC follows, started in 2016.

Human exposure to electromagnetic fields

The development of harmonised standards in the framework of the Council Recommendation (1999/519/EC) on the exposure of the public to electromagnetic fields, the Low Voltage Directive (2014/35/EU) and the Radio and Equipment Directive (2014/53/EU), is of paramount importance for consumers to ensure that exposure levels are translated into emission requirements of products. Mobile phones and radio transmitters fall within this area. 

Safety of IT audio-video equipment

Television sets, computers, mobile phones and music players are used by consumers of all ages every day. It is therefore essential that those products are safe when they are used by consumers. The term "safety" applies both in the sense of immediate physical risks of human injury, or damage to health, such as in the case of noise exposure level of music players, and through the indirect consequences that can arise from other sources of risk such as chemicals.

3) eRecognition

Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), exponentially increase the possibilities of tracing and tracking consumers. The multiplication of authentification and authorisation mechanisms - such as readers and contact-less cards – is everywhere, from the workplace to public transports networks. ANEC believes there is a need for private data handling to be performed in a clear, legal and standardised framework and with absolute respect for individual privacy and accessibility (see section below on RFID). 

4) Privacy and security

The ANEC Digital Society WG follows activities in privacy and security standardisation.privacy key on keyboard

Standards can help industry implement the provisions of the Data Protection Regulation such as “privacy by design” from the early stages of technical development, as planned in Article 25 (Regulation (EU) 2016/679). This principle will guide the ANEC Digital Society WG when following privacy-related work of the ESOs, such as in CEN-CENELEC TC 8 ‘Privacy management in products and services’, set up in 2015, to implement the draft standardisation request on privacy management in the design, development, production and service provision of security technologies (M/530). The committee also works on two Technical Reports providing guidelines for the application of privacy-by-design principles for video-surveillance and for biometrics for access control (including facial recognition).

person watching TVConsumer privacy and security are also at the centre of a CEN-CENELEC BT WG on Fintech which is intended to deal with financial services, blockchain and innovative areas where applications of FinTech are being used (e-governance, real estate, health etc). Privacy, security, accessibility and interoperability remain the main issues advocated by ANEC in smart cities standardisation (CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities Sector Forum).


In 2015, ANEC released the following guidance material to assist consumer representatives in standardisation committees to properly address personal data protection:

5) Smart & Sustainable Cities and Communities

In 2014, ANEC joined the CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Coordination Group on Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SSCC-CG). For consumers, it is important to participate in the use of information and communication technologies ICTs, social and environmental capital in supporting city development and competitiveness, and especially in terms of protection of their rights as citizens in an increasingly interconnected environment. You can read more about the citizens’ requirements for smart cities and what standards can do in our leaflet.

In 2017, the SSCC-CG was transformed into a CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Sector Forum with a new plan of activities. It acts as an advisory and coordinating body for the European standardisation activities related to SSCC, analysing and recommending standards for development, adoption, adaptation, or revision by CEN, CENELEC and ETSI, and organising events on standardisation activities for smart and sustainable cities.

Activities in the European & international standards bodies

ANEC is represented in:

  • CEN TC 224 ‘Personal identification and related personal devices with secure element, systems, operations and privacy in a multi sectorial environment’
  • CEN TC 224 WG 6 ‘User interface’
  • CEN TC 224 WG 15 ‘European Citizen Cards’
  • CEN TC 224 WG 18 'Biometrics'
  • CEN TC 224 WG 19 'Breeder documents'
  • CEN TC 225 'AIDC Technologies'
  • CEN TC 225 WG 5 - 'RFID, RTLS and on board sensors'
  • CEN TC 225 WG 6 ‘Internet of Things – Identification, Data Capture and Edge Technologies’
  • CENELEC TC 106x 'Electromagnetic fields in the human environment’
  • CENELEC TC 106x WG 20 ‘Reasonably Foreseeable Use’
  • CENELEC TC 108x 'Safety of audio-video equipment'
  • CENELEC TC 108 WG 3 'Personal Music Players (PMPs) (M/452)'
  • IEC TC 108 'Safety of electronic equipment within the field of audio/video, information technology and communication technology'
  • IEC TC 108 WG HBSDT 'Hazard based standard development team for IEC 62368-1 and IEC 62368-2 TR'
  • ETSI TC Human Factors
  • CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Joint Working Group on eAccessibility
  • CEN-CENELEC JTC 8 ‘Privacy management in products & services’
  • CEN-CENELEC JTC 13 ‘Cybersecurity and Data Protection’
  • CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Sector Forum 'Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities' (SSCC-SF)
  • CEN-CENELEC Workshop CRISP –  Towards embedding socio-legal requirements in the certification of security systems: ‘Guidelines for the evaluation of installed security systems, based on S-T-E-Fi criteria’
  • CEN Workshop on a “Unique Identifier for Personal Data Usage Control in Big Data” (CEN WS ISÆN)
  • CEN-CENELEC BT WG 220 on Fintech

News and recent success stories

Opting-in into consumer protection

On 12 May 2009, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation on privacy and security aspects of RFID that implements the “opt-in” principle. Hence the Commission backed ANEC’s long-standing request for consumers not to be obliged to ask for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on a product to be deactivated in order to avoid tracking or profiling. Deactivation must be done by default if consumers are to trust commercial use of RFID. ANEC was also pleased with the Recommendation’s provision calling for a unified RFID sign to be developed by the European Standards Organisations as we believe consumers should be told of the presence of an RFID tag by an understandable sign, accessible to all consumers.

The European Commission also issued a standardisation mandate to request the European Standards Organisations to develop standards on data protection, privacy and information security aspects of RFID applications. ANEC was able to influence the content of the mandate as far as “privacy by design” is concerned with the results of a 2007 research study on RFID standards, commissioned by ANEC, (visit our Technical Studies page).

In 2014, ANEC welcomed the adoption of European standards on the procedures and logo for the protection of consumers personal data when Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips are used.

In July 2009, ANEC welcomed the European Commission Communication on the ‘Internet of things - An action plan for Europe’ as it fully takes on board consumer demands that the “Internet of Things (IoT)” is an “Internet for people”. Internet of Things is a paradigm where novel applications combine mainly wireless, physical objects that can be located and can communicate with each other. ANEC, which works with BEUC and Consumers International (CI), on this issue, believes that the Internet of Things needs to be built in such a way as to ensure easy and safe user control. Consumers need confidence to fully embrace the Internet of Things in order to enjoy its potential benefits and avoid risks to their security and privacy.

In June 2010, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on Internet of Things in response to the European Commission Communication of 18 June 2009 on the "Internet of Things – An action plan for Europe" (COM(2009) 278final). ANEC welcomed the Resolution as MEPs call for the European Commission to further assess many of ANEC’s requests, such as the impact on health of radio waves and other means of enabling identification technologies; the right to "chip silence", which provides empowerment and user control and the environmental impact of the chips and of their recycling, among others. In addition, the Parliament stressed that “the consumer has the right to privacy by opt-in and/or privacy by design, notably through the use of automatic tag disablement at the point of sale, unless the consumer expressly agrees otherwise” (section 16). And that it “Believes that the IoT encompasses many benefits for people with disabilities and may be a way to meet the needs of an ageing population and provide assertive care services”.

"Pump down the volume!"

Young consumers often listen to music using personal music players and radio communication devices including such a facility. It is essential to ensure these devices do not cause certain health risks, in particular unforeseen hearing loss or hearing impairment.

In April 2008, ANEC commented on a draft international safety standard for IT and Audio/Video equipment (IEC 108/276/CDV), noting the sound level of 118dBA – to 125dBA for “long-term” exposure (>0,5s) to be extremely high but below the barrier of pain. A sound pressure at such high level can result in hearing damage and even loss. The requirements of a safety standard should avoid such injuries.

The draft standard also proposed that equipment instructions should require a general warning along with a warning label on the product. However, ANEC believes that the users of portable sound systems are often children or young adults who often do not understand or respond well to cautionary advice. Hence, in order to protect the users of portable sound systems from hearing damage, a technical limitation of sound pressure is necessary. ANEC’s position was confirmed by scientists who conclude that 5-10% of personal music players listeners risk permanent hearing loss within 5 years due to the excessive use of personal music player. ANEC called for sound levels to be limited by default settings in personal music players at a European Commission conference held on 27 January 2009 in Brussels. ANEC also proposed that the role of headphones and in-ear earphones in protecting consumers should be better assessed. For example, the anti-noise function, of noise-cancelling headphones can allow consumers to enjoy listening to music at lower sound levels without losing the “groove” (ANEC position paper on the Safety of Music Players).

In June 2009, the European Commission issued a standardisation mandate to develop and revise standards for the safety of personal music players (PMPs). ANEC participated fully.

In 2011, we welcomed the approval of the new standards for Personal Music Players (EN 60065:2002/A12:2011 "Audio, video and similar electronic apparatus - Safety requirements" and EN 60950-1:2006/A12:2011 "Information technology equipment - Safety -- Part 1: General requirements"). The approach adopted is based on an average sound pressure limit of 85dBA. This is a level that is considered to be safe under all conditions of use. Nevertheless, there is the possibility for consumers to choose to override the limit so that the level can be increased up to a maximum average of 100dBA. In this case, users are informed by warnings, repeated after every 20 hours of listening time, about the risks of listening music at such a high volume. Lower limits are prescribed for PMPs for children. The 85dBA and 100dBA limits became applicable in 2013.

Towards a safer internet

ANEC was proud to see the approval in December 2012 of CEN/TS 16080 "Internet Content and communications filtering software and services". The standard was developed by CEN/TC 365 "Internet Filters" based on a proposal made by ANEC further to an ANEC R&T project of 2006.

In 2005, ANEC commissioned a study, “The standard requirements for Internet filtering tools”. The aim was to investigate to what extent unsolicited commercial communications (SPAM) and Internet content filters should be testable and comparable in order to help consumers in their purchasing decisions. Performance standards for Internet filtering products and services were identified as helpful in both ensuring product transparency and aiding choice. The protection of consumers (and especially children) was intended to be the main objective of this work.

To read more about ANEC’s achievements in different sectors please visit our ‘Success stories’ web page.


 To access position papers related to Digital Society please click the link, Position papers.