Month: September 2023

The Internet didn’t need the FCC’s ‘net neutrality’ in 2015, and we definitely don’t need it now

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 26, 2023

The Internet didn’t need the FCC’s ‘net neutrality in 2015, and we definitely don’t need it now

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Federal Communications Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced her agency is beginning the steps to reclassify broadband providers as public utilities under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, commonly known as “net neutrality.”

This marks a step back for all American Internet users, who have thus far profited from a more innovative broadband marketplace since the repeal of these rules in 2017 by former chair Ajit Pai.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, reacted to the announcement:

“Resurrecting the idea of Title-II regulation of the Internet, after its successful repeal in 2017, is the idea that nobody needs in 2023. Since then, we’ve seen incredible innovation and investment, as more Internet customers begin using mobile hotspots and satellite Internet, getting more Americans online than ever before.

“Regulating ISPs like water utilities or electricity providers is a path toward more government control and oversight of the Internet, plain and simple,” said Ossowski.

“As we’ve seen with the recent Missouri v. Biden court case, today’s major Internet problem isn’t broadband providers blocking certain access or services, but government agencies attempting to strong-arm and jawbone Internet providers and platforms into censoring or removing content they don’t agree with. This is more concerning than any worst-case scenario dreamed up by FCC commissioners.

“Bringing these dead regulations back to life will be a losing issue for millions of Americans who enjoy greater Internet access and services than ever before.

“Rather than support Americans’ access to the Internet, it stands to threaten the vast entrepreneurial and tech spaces across our country and will push companies to set up in jurisdictions that promise true Internet freedom rather than state-imposed regulation of content and delivery of Internet services.

“We implore the FCC to whole an open and honest public engagement process on these proposed net neutrality regulations, and we are certain consumers will have their say against this proposal,” added Ossowski.


Stephen Kent, Media Director


The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva, Lima, Brasilia, and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

***Please send media inquiries to yael@consumerchoicecenter.org.***

CCC calls for cultivating consumer education, informed decision making

THE Consumer Choice Centre (CCC), a non-profit consumer advocacy group, is urging consumers to empower themselves with accurate and comprehensive information before forming opinions about everyday products like palm oil.

In this regard, consumers and industries alike must be diligent in cutting through the noise to reveal the true value of products, according to CCC representative Tarmizi Anuwar.

Commenting on a recent article in Berita Harian by Dr Roger Clemens highlighting the misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding palm oil, Tarmizi said:

“Palm oil is a staple in drug development, vital for medical advances and a case study in the growing need for sustainable practices. However, the story around palm oil today is rife with misinformation and false allegations. A deeper scrutiny is not just essential but a responsibility we all have to share.”

CCC advocates for a proactive, informed approach to consumer choices, particularly those concerning contentious products like everyday items and daily consumables.

Read the full text here

Half measures on gambling won’t work well for North Carolina    

North Carolina is entering a new era with the recent legalization of sports betting statewide, set to take effect on Jan. 8, 2024. Gov. Roy Cooper signed HB 347 over the summer at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets, but already industry advocates and gamers are wondering if this was a half measure in need of a broader vision for leveraging the potential for gaming in the state. 

iGaming, shorthand for online casino-style gaming, was left out of HB 347. State budget negotiations have been slowed by ongoing disagreement over how to incorporate iGaming into the new gambling status quo.   

NC lawmakers need to be proactive and create a framework for this activity.   

There’s a reason Gov. Cooper christened the expansion of betting on the Charlotte Hornets home court. Americans are wild for sports, and any conflicted feelings people may hold about the proliferation of gambling can be somewhat smoothed over by the love of sports. It’s an easier sell from a cultural perspective, and lawmakers from both parties know that fans see betting as an obvious extension of the sports fan experience.   

There is no getting past the financial benefit for North Carolina either, and Republicans in Raleigh were not gung-ho to turn down an estimated $74.9 million in new revenue from betting taxes and licensing fees for the 2024-25 fiscal year. Even better, that figure is expected to rise to nearly $100.6 million by 2028. Revenue will come from an 18% sports wagering tax placed on sportsbooks licensed by the North Carolina Lottery Commission and players will have access to mobile betting, as well as in-person wagering.   

iGaming is different, and it doesn’t have the benefit of association with ultra-popular professional sporting leagues and household names like FanDuel and DraftKings to place bets. This is access to state-sanctioned casino apps on a personal device or computer, so consumers and gamers can play the odds wherever they’d like, without having to set foot inside a brick-and-mortar casino.   

Casinos are a prickly subject in North Carolina, like anywhere else. They’re a hugely consequential from a development and job creation standpoint, as articulated by Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, who said of traditional casinos, they’re “the only form of gaming where you’re going to see a significant creation of new jobs to the state, whereas you’re not going to see that with something on people’s phones.”   

That’s a fair point. For politicians working to strike a balance between practical benefits to their constituents and moral concerns, casinos represent a bargain they can present as tightly controlled. Mobile gaming comes with more question marks.  

Will it undercut investments made in physical casinos? How will iGaming account for age verification, an increasingly hot debate happening in state legislatures regarding social media access and pornography?   

These questions have been answered in Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, where iCasinos have already been legalized for residents. Consumers like to have options when it comes to bets and gaming, and the argument that casinos would be undercut ignores the fact that they serve a different audience than people who enjoy iGaming. Age verification of gamers is also accounted for by the business model of gaming apps, where the cost per verification is baked into their profit outlook.    

The money generated for state coffers isn’t bad either. Connecticut’s iCasino sector generated $40 million in taxes, compared to a meager $13 million driven by sports betting. New Jersey had the same experience, with iGaming more than tripling revenue from wagers on sports. In both cases, physical casinos still raked in vast sums more than their digital counterparts.   

North Carolinians who want to gamble online, will gamble online. An unregulated market for this activity already exists, and the best response is always to create legal frameworks that protect consumers and benefit the state. A gaming commission would need to be established, and North Carolina could start by looking to Maryland as a model for bringing gaming and the lottery under the roof of a single commission.   

Half measures don’t make for good policy, and North Carolina opening the spigot on betting revenue should be based both on what consumers want, and what will maximize revenue for the state in return. It would be best to get out in front on iGaming and not have to play catch up on expanding consumer choice. When it comes to responsibly regulated online gambling and sports betting, everyone wins.  

Originally published here

‘We raise our glass to you, Virginia’: Group applauds new approach to beer delivery

A Richmond-based consumer advocacy group is applauding Virginia for a new approach to beer regulation and delivery.

The recent budget passed by Virginia’s General Assembly allocates funding for the creation of a Virginia Beer Distribution Company, or VBDC. The VBDC will be a branch of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and will set Virginia breweries free to self-distribute limited quantities of their products directly to retailers and restaurants.

“This is a huge win for consumers and beer lovers in Virginia,” said Yael Ossowski, the deputy director for the Consumer Choice Center. “The “three-tier system” is an archaic system for getting beer in front of consumers, a remnant of Prohibition that still holds back many of Virginia’s neighbors from having the best market for beer possible.”

Read the full text here

De-Banking Is an Avoidable Consequence of Strict Financial Regulation

In the modern world of finance, regulation has become the name of the game. Governments across the globe, particularly in the United States and Europe, have ramped up their efforts to ensure that banks operate under a single set of strict rules and guidelines. While this may seem like a necessary step to curb financial misconduct, it has inadvertently led to a surge in compliance costs and an alarming increase in the debanking of customers. Nigel Farage’s high-profile case may have captured headlines, but the real victims are the countless individuals and businesses losing access to their bank accounts due to sloppy risk management.

The U.S. Treasury Department rightly recognizes the potential dangers of de-risking, which refers to the indiscriminate termination or restriction of business relationships with broad categories of customers over “compliance” concerns. In a reportmandated by the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, the Treasury Department shed light on the adverse consequences of de-risking. 

They found that it poses not only a threat to national security but also disrupts the very fabric of the financial system, driving legitimate financial activities away from regulated channels.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo emphasized that “broad access to well-regulated financial services is in the interest of the United States.” This statement underscores the importance of striking a balance between regulation and access to financial services. Risk mitigation must have limits. 

The heart of the issue isn’t the profit motive of banks, but more so the overwhelming burden of compliance costs and poorly written regulations directed at banks’ customers. Banks, as profit-driven entities, must allocate their resources efficiently. When compliance costs skyrocket due to complex and ambiguous regulations, they are forced to cut corners, often resulting in the hasty termination of customer accounts as a risk-mitigation measure. 

It’s not uncommon for this to be an automated process, similar to the automation of content moderation on social media platforms, which so often leads to deplatforming without transparency or explaination. 

Everyday consumers, small and medium-sized money-service transmitters, and nonprofit groups operating in high-risk jurisdictions bear the primary burden of de-risking policies. These entities are the lifeblood of many communities, enabling remittances, facilitating humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and providing financial resources to low- and middle-income populations. 

What a human supervisor within a bank might understand as the flow of money between international nonprofits, an automated system developed for de-risking might flag as money-laundering. The old adage of “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck” does’t apply well to regulating global finance. 

The Treasury Department’s report offers a glimmer of hope by suggesting policy recommendations to address the issue.

It advocates for consistent supervisory expectations of anti-money laundering regulations, and support for international financial institutions’ efforts to combat de-risking. However, these recommendations must translate into tangible actions to make a real difference.

One of the most troubling aspects of de-risking is the lack of transparency and accountability in the process. Banks tend to operate as judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to terminating customer accounts. They often fail to engage in meaningful dialogue with their customers, leaving them without recourse or the opportunity to address concerns or rectify perceived compliance issues. More competition in the banking system and allowing more market entrants such as neo banks would boost choice and enable business models around serving consumers with a higher risk profile.

In the quest for a safer and more transparent financial system, it is crucial that regulators and banks find a middle ground. While compliance is vital, it should not come at the expense of legitimate businesses and individuals. 

Clear, concise, and fair regulations, coupled with a willingness to engage with customers in the debanking process, can go a long way in mitigating the negative impacts of de-risking.

It is high time for regulators and financial institutions to heed the call of Deputy Treasury Secretary Adeyemo and work collaboratively to strike a balance between stringent compliance and maintaining broad access to well-regulated financial services. The livelihoods of countless individuals and businesses depend on it, as does the national interest.

Originally published here

Biden’s FTC is declaring war on consumer preferences in their latest Amazon antitrust lawsuit 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 26, 2023

The FTC’s latest Amazon antitrust case seeks to end your consumer preferences

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This morning, the Federal Trade Commission launched another antitrust lawsuit against the tech firm Amazon, claiming that unique offerings to Amazon Prime subscribers, including faster logistics, bundled services, and low prices, are somehow harmful to consumers and should result in the company being broken up.

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center reacted to the lawsuit:

“Consumers know they’re getting a myriad of benefits with their Prime subscription, whether that’s faster delivery, cheaper prices, or bundled services like data storage and content streaming. That’s what consumers want, and why millions buy from Amazon everyday.

“I think many Americans would be appalled if they learned what Biden’s FTC is proposing with these lawsuits: that Amazon Prime, as it stands, should cease to exist.

“That the FTC would waste their resources going after an innovative company that consistently offers value for consumers reveals more about the agency’s political grudge than any perceived harm to consumers. Consumers have overwhelmingly had their welfare increased because of Amazon’s products and services. Government efforts to break that up are harmful to consumers.

“Behind the U.S. military, Amazon is the most favorable institution in the country, mainly because millions of consumers have had experience with Amazon’s platform, have been employed by the company, or have used their services in any way,” said Ossowski.

“It is well known FTC Chair Lina Khan has spent her career trying to build an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, as is revealed in her 2017 article on “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, but those efforts fall flat with consumers who benefit and appreciate their services.”

“As we mentioned in our USA Today oped on this topic, consumers have voted with their wallets when it comes to Amazon’s services, including Amazon Prime. That an agency of the federal government would spend valuable time and resources trying to punish a company for offering too many affordable products and services in a unique way only seems laughable,” added Ossowski.


Stephen Kent, Media Director


The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva, Lima, Brasilia, and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

***Please send media inquiries to yael@consumerchoicecenter.org.***

This Sneaky Bipartisan Bankruptcy Reform Will Sting Tech Consumers

If there’s one theme emerging this year in Washington, D.C., it’s the full-on bipartisan rampage against American tech firms.

In a courthouse just blocks away from the Capitol, Google is defending its search engine against the Justice Department, while down the street the Federal Trade Commission is finalizing its case to break up Amazon. The DOJ is also reportedly probing Elon Musk’s company expenses at Tesla, laying the groundwork for an eventual case against the tech mogul.

Congress’ anger toward technology companies is red-hot and taking shape in the unlikeliest of forms — federal bankruptcy law reform.

Republican Takes on the Bankruptcy Reform

Last week in the Senate Judiciary Committee, a hearing was held on reforms to Chapter 11 bankruptcies, aimed at ending “corporate manipulation” of its statutes.

The discussion highlighted recent examples of companies undergoing multidistrict class-action lawsuits and their strategy of spinning off separate holding companies to more quickly and efficiently adjudicate claims in bankruptcy courts, rather than endure years-long jury trials.

It’s known as a “Texas Two-Step.”

It’s a model that plaintiff attorneys and Democrats generally deplore, a fact repeatedly made clear during the hearing, but one that has proven to render judgments quickly and with a better assessment of whether claims against large companies are legitimate. Most interestingly, comments by Republican senators indicate their party’s intent on using Chapter 11 to target what they perceive as the “harms” of Big Tech.

“In social media, there is no model like this,” stated Sen. Lindsey Graham. “We may not agree on how to resolve this issue, but if you’re harmed by social media, you have nothing. Zero. Zip. There’s where I hope the committee can come together and create rights of actions.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, who recently authored a book titled The Tyranny of Big Tech and has positioned himself as a chief antagonist of Silicon Valley, went one step further.

“If you wanna know why private rights of action are so darn important, and why we need to use them against the big tech companies, this is the reason why,” he said.

Tech Consumers Will Be Harmed

When Republicans invoke a “private right of action,” they’re talking about allowing consumers to individually sue any company for privacy violations or other “harms” yet defined.

While Hawley and Graham allude to a broad social media “harm,” independent researchers have yet to make any definitive case on what that means. Certainly not enough to mount a legal case.

Tech consumers who depend on these products and services could also soon bear the brunt of the regulatory and legal costs we see all too often in health care, banking, and food production, that of upwardly creeping prices and less innovation.

Everything would change for tech users, advertisers, and adjacent industries. Whether these services are free won’t matter once the free-for-all litigation can begin and lawyer-funded TV ads and billboards coax the next class of plaintiffs for attempts at billion-dollar settlements.

With the threat of more lawsuits — legitimate or not — comes higher costs for compliance and adjudication. When the target is a consumer-facing company with thousands of products and millions of buyers, these added costs are passed down to consumers.

At the same time, these cases overfill the docket alongside many real tort claimants who deserve justice, such as survivors of environmental catastrophes and victims of defective products.

Will Republicans Contract Lawsuit Fever?

Massive class-action lawsuits are the favored tool of legal firms because many companies would rather settle than subject themselves to lengthy litigation, which promises large payouts to the firms that organize the class and file the case.

Think of the corporate cases against Starbucks, a multi million-dollar suit over its fruit drinks not having “enough fruit,” or Burger King, with a class-action lawsuit over “false advertising,” alleging that hamburgers in TV ads are larger than when they’re served in the fast-food restaurants.

The U.S. is nominally the most highly litigious country in the world, so these examples should come as no surprise.

If Republicans also contract lawsuit fever, we’ll see a world with an explosion of mass tort class-action lawsuits filed against American technology companies, many of which would be without merit.

This would tie up resources for hundreds of innovative firms that consumers know and love and would place even more inflationary pressures on prices. Not to mention that it would pervert the true purpose of our judicial system — to deliver justice.

American citizens and consumers rely on a fair and virtuous legal system to protect our rights and ways of life. If anything, we should continue to demand that this be upheld.

Yaël Ossowski is a Canadian-American journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

Published in American Spectator (archive link).

Comments on India’s Competition (Amendment) Act, 2023

Dear Competition Commission of India,

In order to follow through on your call for stakeholder groups to provide regulatory comments on the updates to the Competition Act, we want to offer thoughts from a consumer perspective. For reference, the Consumer Choice Center is a globally consumer advocacy group championing policies that are fit for growth, promote tech innovation, and enshrine lifestyle freedom, all the while promoting consumer choice.

In reviewing The Competition (Amendment) Act of 2023, we add the following:

Proposed Section 29A

With the proposed amendment in Section 29A, we would insert the phrase “and on consumer choice” after the phrase “an appreciable adverse effect on competition,” in order to more precisely adhere to a limited competition and antitrust definition that elevates the effect to consumers and prices, rather than “competition”.

Proposed Section 18

With the proposed amendments in Section 18, we would insert “consumer choice” to come before “competition,” again demonstrating the usefulness of consumer choice and pricing comparisons as a more accurate rubric for determining competition.

Overall, we remain positive to the Competition Commission’s updated guidelines on mergers and general antitrust law. As India’s digital economy grows and continues to offer unique goods and services to Indian consumers, we believe all Central Government agencies should also adhere to a competition policy that upholds consumer choice and regulatory barriers that may be impeding that, and perhaps leading to higher prices or reduced competition. Impact to consumers is key.

Defining the adequate level of competition is an impossible task for any government agency or department, and should best be left to consumers who will better determine market size and performance. Where regulatory barriers exist, or where fraud and deception exist, should be a more targeted focus for competition regulators than only concerns for competition — domestic or otherwise.


Consumer Choice Center Raises a Glass to Virginia’s New Chapter for Beer Distribution

RICHMOND, VA  — The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) enthusiastically welcomes a recent development in Virginia’s approach to beer regulation, marked by the recent signing of the state budget by Governor Glenn Youngkin. This budget allocates funding for the creation of the Virginia Beer Distribution Co. (VBDC), a branch of the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The VBDC will set Virginia breweries free to self-distribute limited quantities of their products directly to retailers and restaurants. 

Yael Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center weighed in on the news, saying, “This is a huge win for consumers and beer lovers in Virginia. The “three-tier system” is an archaic system for getting beer in front of consumers, a remnant of Prohibition that still holds back many of Virginia’s neighbors from having the best market for beer possible.” 

The VBDC will operate primarily online and simplify the process for retailers buying beer from registered breweries. Taxes and fees will be gathered during the transactions, adding to the state’s revenue. Breweries will take on the responsibility of delivering the beer sold through the VBDC. Industry insiders project that if even just 100 breweries opt to self-distribute 500 barrels of beer each year, the new structure will generate $6.9 million in tax and fee revenue for Virginia.

Yael Ossowski continued, “Some brewers will want to use the VBDC system to grow their footprint in Virginia, and others won’t. Distribution contracts make a lot of sense for some fantastic breweries, and less sense for others. This is about choice, and Virginia just expanded it for entrepreneurs and consumers alike. We applaud this move by the House of Delegates and Gov. Youngkin. ” 

“There is still much more to do to liberalize the state’s alcohol market, but for the moment, we raise our glass to you, Virginia,” he added.

Ensure Generational Endgame policy achievable in decreasing smoking prevalence in Malaysia, says consumer body

KUALA LUMPUR: Policymakers should delve deeper into the Generational Endgame (GEG) policy, ensuring it offers a practical and attainable method to decrease smoking prevalence in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Consumer Choice Center (MCCC) representative Tarmizi Anuwar said the government also needs to carry out a more meaningful and quality engagement process to ensure that every stakeholder is involved adequately in the consultation process. 

“We do not want just to be given a 10-to-15-minute presentation but not have any further discussion after that,” Tarmizi said in a statement.

CCC recently published a report entitled Roundtable Discussion on Smoking Product Control in Public Health: Room for Improvement.

The main purpose of the round table discussion is to get alternative views from experts in various fields and comprehensively assess and scrutinise the bill considering health, legal, economic and feasibility aspects. 

Read the full text here

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