Consumer advocates lead a global call for fair and responsible AI

18 March 2024

Last week leading consumer advocate groups, international organisations, business, government and civil society united for World Consumer Rights Day in a pertinent call for Fair and Responsible AI.

Throughout the week, we drove expert debate on core consumer concerns amidst the proliferation of AI. We exposed the scale of the issue concerning AI deepfakes, scams and misinformation. We shone a light on the need for solid policy regarding the data used to build AI models. We presented new insights on the consumer experience of generative AI chatbots – the result of a global exercise that 35 of our members participated in. On World Consumer Rights Day itself – Friday 15 March – Members and consumer protection advocates in other sectors undertook campaigns across media, consumer pop-up marketplaces, education in schools, online and in-person events, government dialogue and much more.

Leaders join our Debate and Dialogue For Fair and Responsible AI 

Our opening session unveiled the murky depths of deepfakes, scams and misinformation with leaders from Which? (UK) Public Citizen (USA), Amazon and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. 

Scams are already a major global problem, estimated to cost consumers at least $1tn a year. But the scale, speed and sophistication of scams is growing: using AI they fraudsters can mimic humans to concerning new levels.In one well known case in Hong Kong, a finance worker paid out $25 million after video call with deepfake chief financial officer.

Panellists explained that beyond financial loss, manipulation of consumers causes huge psychological harm and costs to mental health. In the UK, Which? believes that the emotional impact of scams is at least five times greater than the financial cost. Given the level of sophistication involved - responsibility should absolutely not fall on consumers to protect themselves.

Transparency is also key, stressed Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, “There must be a legal obligation that whenever a consumer is dealing with an AI (…) that they are always told and aware of that. If you know you are dealing with an AI, you will engage differently and to some extent you will be able to protect yourself”.

Calls for transparency were also central in our session on responsible data policy. Speakers looked at the data behind the design and build of AI models, and exposed the opacity in where the data has come from. This is particularly important in a generative AI market that is dominated by a few developers relying on dataset built on just one web crawler (which searches and indexes web content)  to train 2/3 of the largest AI language models on the market.

Gilly Wong, CEO, Hong Kong Consumer Council emphasised the importance of data protection by design, whereby data is automatically protected.. Nicholas Piachaud, Director of Campaigns, Mozilla Foundation stressed that companies must develop better data transparency policies, which are not hidden away in service agreements but clearpresented to consumers with easyroutes to ‘opt-out’.

As the session drew to a close, the panel spoke to the power of cooperation between consumer advocates, government, civil society and business. why spotlighting business models getting it right can help others, as well as pragmatic steps actors can take together – like developing simple manuals to help educate consumers.

We dived into generative AI chatbots in a closed session with Members. Here we shared headline findings from our experiment into the trustworthiness of popular generative AI chatbots. Of the 35 Members who took part 94% found the chatbots intuitive, but our findings showed that all chatbots produced a form of hallucination as well as bias being encountered across all. The variation in safeguards reported by consumers around the world underlines the need to develop high benchmarks for consumer protection that are applied across countries. To address this, in April we will share the results of this experiment plus recommendations for business and government, in order to make AI fair and responsible for consumers

How Members Celebrated

Wrapping up the week on World Consumer Rights Day – Friday 15 March - Members showcased their activities in our final celebratory session. Members marked the day with a huge array of activities. Here’s a snapshot just some of those incredible actions:

In Latin America and the Caribbean, ASPEC (Peru) has begun monitoring the use of AI in healthcare – ensuring consumers retain the right to in-person care. ODECU (Chile) are educating consumers through an AI expert podcast series whilst Defensoria El Salvador took to national libraries to build consumer education. In the Caribbean the National Consumer Association (St Lucia) participated in an exposition hosted by the Ministry of Commerce. 

In the Asia Pacific region Consumer Voice (India) led a compelling digital communications campaign through opinion pieces, social media and a special message from CEO, Shri Ashim Sanya. The Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau through the Department of Trade and Industry in the Philippines held a special Consumer Forum to raise awareness of issues like automated decision-making, developer accountability, and the need for risk-based and use-case regulation of AI. Consumer Council of Fiji reached younger consumers – running interactive competitions with students in schools on ethical AI, whilst CHOICE (Australia) made calls to the Australian government for a new AI commissioner.

In the Africa and the Middle East, Consumer Grassroots Organisation (Kenya) took to national broadcast  whilst Consumer Awareness Organisation (Nigeria) spoke on national radio. ALERT Centre (Albania) convened ministers and civil society and Consumers Lebanon joined a conference held by the Kuwaiti Consumer Association on ‘the reality of AI and challenges specific to the Arab consumer’. 

In North America and Europe, Facua (Spain) carried out a consumer information campaign on the streets, Consumentenbond (Netherlands) shared advice for consumers. In Consumer Reports (USA) shared headlines from their AI Experiences Survey – this found 35% of Americans now use AI chatbots to answer their questions, instead of search engine.


Throughout the week, international organisations released special messages to mark the theme. 

Rebecca Grynspan, Secretary-General, UNCTAD shared a powerful and constructive message on the promise and challenge that AI represents. Consumer protection and competition policy has a foundational role in supporting a strong economy for people. She outlined the three pillars UNCTAD work towards which have been echoed throughout the week in a call for transparency, accountability and inclusivity to make AI beneficial for all. 

Read her speech here as well as UNCTAD's news piece in celebration of the day. 

Amandeep Gill, United Nation’s Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, delivered a special message on the work the UN is conducting to secure a fair digital future. He stressed that the participation of consumers is central to that future. Later this year, the UN Summit of the Future will develop a global digital compact to help UN member states build strong digital governance.

Sergio Mujica, Secretary-General, ISO - International Organization for Standardization outlined the role standards can play to help regulate AI. He stated that the challenge is now to advance with great foresight to get ahead of future harms.

More to follow

Stay tuned as we release findings from our Chatbot Experiment this April. If you are an influential thinker, shaker or leader across government, business and civil society and want to be part of our digital work, contact

Image by Alan Warburton / © BBC / Better Images of AI / Quantified Human / CC-BY 4.0