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Digital

Three priorities for the new European Parliament president

Tomorrow, the European Parliament will elect its new president. As the cases of Omicron spike around Europe, ensuring European solidarity in the face of the new strain will be one of the new president’s top challenges. The sudden death of David Sassoli, praised for keeping the parliament running during the crisis, leaves big shoes to fill. 

Aside from COVID-19, the new president will also need to ensure that the European Parliament takes a pro-consumer, pro-innovation evidence-based approach to several other pressing issues. In line with the goals set out in the European Green New Deal, these, among others, include sustainability of agriculture and energy cost-efficiency. Other significant areas of attention and consideration should be digital and the sharing economy.

Agriculture and sustainability

The EU Farm to Fork strategy is an ambitious attempt to make agriculture in the EU and globally–through trade policy—sustainable. However, cutting the use of pesticides and fertilisers by 50 per cent, as proposed, will not achieve these goals. Instead, the F2F will result in high consumer prices and reduced food production. The F2F will take crucial crop protection tools away from farmers, leaving them unprepared for the next virus. The black market in pesticides, which is already flourishing in the EU, will undoubtedly seize this opportunity. 

The EU shouldn’t restrict the farmers’ freedom to use the preferred crop protection tools to avoid these unintended consequences. Alternatively, the EU should consider enabling genetic modification in the EU.

To learn more about our stance on agriculture and sustainability, check out our policy paper Sustainable Agriculture, available here.

Nuclear 

The European Union remains unjustifiably cautious about nuclear energy. Nuclear is a low-carbon source of energy and an affordable source of energy. It would enable a decarbonised electricity grid. In addition, nuclear can support decarbonised heat and hydrogen production, which can be used as an energy source for hard-to-decarbonise sectors.

The latest IEA and OECD NEA report entitled ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity 2020’ confirms that the long-term operation of nuclear power plants remains the cheapest source of electricity. Furthermore, nuclear is much less vulnerable to price fluctuations, a key point at a time when energy prices are escalating.

To learn more about our stance on nuclear, check out CCC’s Open Letter on Climate Change by our Managing Director Fred Roeder, available here.

Digital

In January 2021, the European Commission presented the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). DMA aims to restrict the market behaviour of big tech giants by introducing a series of ex-ante regulations. However, the current approach lacks nuance and risks hurting the competition in the EU digital market and the EU’s global competitiveness. Instead of going after the success of the high tech companies, the European Union should instead focus on making it easier for smaller European enterprises to operate. One step in that direction would, for example, be to abandon the audiovisual directive, which prevents small and medium enterprises from scaling-up.

To learn more about our stance on the EU digital policies, check out our New Consumer Agenda 2020, available here.

The future resilience of the European Union will be determined by the policy choices made today. It is pivotal that the new president of the European Parliament becomes a champion of innovation, consumer choice, and evidence-based policymaking.

Written by Maria Chaplia and Luca Bertoletti

A Crypto Surveillance Mandate In the Infrastructure Bill Must Be Rejected

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A Crypto Surveillance Mandate In the Infrastructure Bill Must Be Rejected

Washington, D.C. — Today, the US House is expected to take a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill that contains vast implications for cryptocurrency users.

Hidden inside is an amendment to tax code 6050I that could make receiving and failing to correctly report a digital asset (be it a cryptocurrency, NFT, or another type of digital asset) a felony. According to the amendment of 6050I, any US citizen who receives over $10,000 must report within 15 days the sender’s personal information such as Social Security number and tax ID. Failure to do so could result in mandatory fines and lead to a felony charge with up to five years in prison. 

As noted by University of Virginia School of Law Adjunct Professor Abraham Sutherland, it “relies on a 1984 law that was written to discourage in-person cash transfers and to encourage the use of financial institutions for large transactions”. By regulators once again applying old rules to an emerging asset class they are risking not only harming the consumer and the whole nascent industry but also further eroding the privacy of US citizens. 

“If passed, this amendment will stifle innovation and result in huge loss of value for consumers and businesses alike while further centralizing control over transactions that US citizens make. It will hurt a flourishing economy, and it will also have long-term effects in a future where digital assets are not going away,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group.

CCC’s Crypto Fellow Aleksandar Kokotović echoed those sentiments: “Not only US companies and investors would be hurt by this amendment, but also domestic consumers and retail investors, who would be severely discouraged from participating in the digital asset class economy which is now setting standards for decades to come.”

In an asset class that didn’t exist in 1984 when the original law was written, it is completely possible that the person receiving the funds would not have a specific individual or legal entity to report but rather that the ‘sender’ is a decentralized exchange or a group of individuals. This is just one example of the anachronistic stipulations of this amendment that are worrying consumers.

“Turning even small retail investors such as students into potential felons or subjecting them to outdated laws will only serve to limit the unparalleled economic growth currently provided by the sector, or risk pushing all investment and entrepreneurship to other jurisdictions,” added Kokotović.

As legislators and regulators seek to understand, contain, and regulate cryptocurrencies, last week the Consumer Choice Center published its list of common-sense principles for smart crypto regulation that will safeguard innovation, protect consumers, and adapt for technological and financial change.

“We recognize the importance of crypto regulation for keeping bad actors in check and providing a sound institutional framework. We also recognize that the nascent crypto finance space is ever-changing and rapidly evolving, and that overzealous regulation could cripple future potential,” said Ossowski. “We offer bedrock principles on smart crypto regulation for lawmakers, hoping to promote sound policies that will encourage innovation, increase economic inclusion across all income groups, all the while protecting consumers from harm,” he added.

In the coming weeks, the Consumer Choice Center will be meeting with legislative and regulatory officials to ensure these principles are upheld in any future regulation or guidance.
 

CONSUMER CHOICE CENTER’S PRINCIPLES FOR SMART CRYPTO REGULATION:

  • Prevent Fraud
  • Technological Neutrality
  • Reasonable Taxation
  • Legal Certainty & Transparency

The policy primer can be read in full here.

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

The EU and the U.S. Need a Common Digital Market Strategy to Counter China

The past few weeks have been hardly an easy time for Facebook.Frances Haugen’s leak, combined with a six-hour blackout last week, has reinforced some politicians’ desire to further regulateFacebook, or even completely break it up, as proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, while the EU and U.S. are thinking long and hard about their next move against big tech, China has been taking over our digital space in the West slowly but consistently.

Following a report by an anonymous researcher, Hikvision, a Chinese surveillance company, is now facing scrutiny over a privacy breach in Europe. The high-tech cameras produced by Hikvision have been found to be vulnerable and carry risk of malicious code insertion or cyberattacks.

In the U.S., Hikvision was put on the sanctions list under President Trump in 2019. China’s appetite for data is hardly news, and as Europe is finally starting to open its eyes to its scope, it’s time for a shared action. To counteract growing Chinese influences, the EU and U.S. need a comprehensive transatlantic agreement on digital policies.

In January 2021, the European Commission presented the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). At first glance, both acts aim to curb innovation in the EU by keeping American tech giants at bay. Combined with antitrust investigations against Facebook and Amazon, the European Union’s behavior can be easily classified as hostile toward the U.S. However, both DSA and DMA are inept attempts to understand how online platforms work and seemingly fail to strike a balance between the need to safeguard the competition while allowing smaller enterprises to innovate.

To level the playing field for all platforms regardless of their size, the Digital Markets Act put in place a series of ex-ante restrictions to determine the acceptable market behavior for big players. DSA and DMA are not anti-American per se; it just happens that the U.S. tech sector is fertile ground for disruptive platform businesses, which makes them a prime target for EU authorities.

Even U.S. lawmakers have been determined to clip the wings of big tech to encourage future digital innovation. Throughout the years, Facebook has had to fight several antitrust complaints to disprove the claims of its alleged monopoly in the social networking market. Last year, Amazon faced its first antitrust lawsuit, and Google has been flooded with these as well. Most of these proceedings are a knee-jerk reaction to the continuously growing market power of businesses that are fundamentally different from conventional supply chains and corporations that sell physical goods. The Internet has changed everything.

U.S. state and federal regulators and their European counterparts are equally puzzled about how best to address the sudden and continuous exponential growth of tech giants, services that have provided vast benefits to consumers. But in a quest to come up with a perfect piece of legislation to tame tech companies, both the EU and the U.S. have lost sight of the far-reaching hand of the Chinese Communist Party and its influence in the digital market and beyond.

TikTok is a well-known case of how one popular app with ties to China can threaten what we in the liberal democracies value most: freedom. A 2019 report released by The Guardian showed that TikTok was as much a social media platform for sharing videos as a strategically organized censorship and propaganda machine.

The app was found to not only have banned specific anti-Chinese government videos, but also promoted various Chinese organizations, ministries, schools, and universities founded outside China that pushed the Communist Party’s narrative. Huawei’s backdoor to mobile networks globally is another example of how technology is used by the Chinese government to undermine national security and privacy in liberal democracies.

The EU and the U.S. should stand up to China and its growing influence in all areas, but especially on the digital front. The potential extent of its surveillance powers in our countries is terrifying. According to a 2019 research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, Global Tone Communications Technology Co. Ltd, supervised by China’s Central Propaganda Department, mines data in more than 65 languages from 200+ countries. Since the company is state-owned, the bulk data can be used by others who have access to it.

If left unconstrained, China’s playbook on controlling its citizens could spread to liberal democracies. The EU and the U.S. must work together to develop a common digital strategy to tackle the ever-expanding influence of the CCP.

It is more important that we protect our consumers from a spy country that has detained three million Uyghurs. As such, an EU-U.S. agreement on a digital strategy centered around a shared goal to stop China is paramount to preserving our freedoms.

Originally published here

Bagaimana Kebijakan Regulasi Mata Uang Kripto yang Tepat?

Mata uang kripto, atau yang juga akrab disebut cryptocurrency, saat ini menjadi salah satu medium investasi dan transaksi yang mengalami peningkatan yang sangat pesat. Saat ini, kita bisa membeli berbagai produk mata uang kripto dengan sangat mudah melalui banyak sekali platform yang tersedia di dunia maya.

Tidak sedikit pula mereka yang mendapatkan banyak keuntungan dari investasi di produk-produk mata uang kripto. Keuntungan tersebut didapatkan dalam jangka waktu yang relatif sangat cepat, karena nilai dari mata uang kripto tersebut mengalami peningkatan yang sangat cepat dibandingkan dengan berbagai instrumen investasi lainnya.

Selain itu, banyaknya mata uang kripto yang bergerak sangat bebas tanpa adanya intervensi dari otoritas atau institusi negara juga menjadi daya tarik tersendiri bagi banyak orang untuk menggunakan instrumen tersebut untuk melakukan transaksi. 

Dengan bebasnya pergerakan dan peredaran mata uang kripto, maka nilainya tidak bisa dimanipulasi oleh institusi pemerintahan yang berkuasa.

Dengan semakin banyaknya pengguna mata uang kripto, saat ini kita bukan hanya bisa menggunakan mata uang kripto untuk membeli berbagai produk-produk virtual seperti poin game, tetapi juga mencakup barang-barang nyata hingga kebutuhan kita sehari-hari. 

Tidak hanya itu, beberapa negara juga sudah melegalkan mata uang kripto sebagai legal tender, sebagaimana mata uang nasional yang diterbitkan oleh pemerintahan di negara tersebut.

El Salvador misalnya, belum lama ini menjadi negara pertama yang secara resmi menjadikan mata uang kripto, seperti bitcoin dan berbagai mata uang kripto lainnya, sebagai legal tender. 

Tidak hanya El Salvador, negara-negara lain juga perlahan-lahan mulai menjadikan mata uang kripto sebagai legal tender, diantaranya adalah Panama dan Ukraina (cnbc.com, 9/9/2021).

Tetapi, tidak semua pemerintahan bersedia untuk mengikuti langkah yang diambil oleh El Salvador, Panama, dan Ukraina. 

Tidak adanya peran institusi pemerintah dalam peredaran dan pengaturan mata uang kripto membuat tidak sedikit pemerintahan di berbagai negara di dunia menaruh kecurigaan yang besar terhadap produk ini. 

Beberapa langkah yang diambil tidak main-main, mulai dari melarang mata uang kripto digunakan sebagai alat transaksi yang sah, hingga melarang seluruh kegiatan yang berkaitan dengan mata uang kripto.

Lantas, bila demikian, bagaimana kita seharusnya menyusun kebijakan yang tepat terkait dengan kebijakan mata uang kripto?

                                              *

Perkembangan mata uang kripto saat ini seakan merupakan hal yang hampir mustahil dapat dibendung. Untuk itu, sangat penting bagi pemerintahan di berbagai negara di seluruh dunia untuk mampu membuat serangkaian aturan dan kebijakan regulasi yang tepat terkait dengan produk mata uang kripto ini.

Beberapa waktu lalu, lembaga advokasi konsumen internasional, Consumer Choice Center (CCC), menerbitkan makalah kebijakan yang membahas mengenai bagaimana pemerintahan negara-negara di dunia dapat menyusun regulasi yang masuk akal dan tepat terkait dengan mata uang kripto (Consumer Choice Center, 2021).

Makalah tersebut dalam pembukaannya memaparkan bahwa, sejak diperkenalkan pada tahun 2008, sektor mata uang kripto sudah mencapai nilai hingga 2 triliun dollar. Hal ini mencakup penambangan, pasar mata uang kripto, blockchains, dan lain sebagainya.

Meskipun membawa banyak manfaat, seperti memudahkan kita mengirim uang ke luar negeri, sebagai instrumen investasi, dan lain sebagainya, tetapi kita juga tidak bisa menutup mata dari berbagai potensi kejahatan dan juga penipuan yang terjadi melalui berbagai produk-produk mata uang kripto.

Untuk mencegah terjadinya hal tersebut, dan di sisi lain juga bisa mendapatkan manfaat yang luar biasa melalui mata uang kripto, CCC mengadvokasi beberapa kebijakan penting yang harus dapat diambil oleh pemerintah.

Kebijakan pertama yang sangat penting dan tidak bisa dilupakan adalah kebijakan yang berfokus untuk mencegah terjadinya penipuan dan kejahatan. Hal ini tentu sangat penting untuk mencegah penyalahgunaan mata uang kripto. 

Dengan demikian, yang harus menjadi sasaran bukan produk mata uang kripto itu sendiri, melainkan berbagai penyalahgunaan yang dilakukan dengan menggunakan mata uang kripto tersebut.

Kebijakan kedua adalah pemerintah harus memiliki posisi netral terkait dengan perkembangan teknologi. Pemerintah dalam hal ini jangan sampai menjadi hakim yang memutuskan teknologi kripto apa yang menjadi pemenang yang bisa digunakan dan mana yang kalah. Konsumen lah yang harus menjadi penentu utama melalui mekanisme pasar yang bebas,

Kebijakan ketiga yang sangat penting adalah adalah adanya kebijakan pajak yang masuk akal untuk produk-produk kripto. 

Untuk itu, para regulator juga jangan sampai melihat mata uang kripto hanya sebagai alat untuk spekulasi, tetapi juga sebagai teknologi yang memiliki potensi besar untuk membawa manfaat yang sangat luas bagi konsumen dan masyarakat.

Kebijakan keempat adalah adanya kepastian hukum bagi produk-produk kripto. 

Dengan adanya kejelasan hukum, maka kebijakan tersebut akan membuka pintu yang luas bagi perusahaan dan inovator yang bergerak di sektor mata uang kripto untuk memiliki rekening bank, mendapatkan asuransi, dan berbagai hal lain sebagaimana usaha lainnya. Dengan demikian, inovasi akan semakin meningkat.

Keempat kebijakan inilah yang harus dapat diambil oleh berbagai para pengambil kebijakan di seluruh dunia agar regulasi mata uang kripto yang masuk akal dapat tercapai. Hal ini berlaku juga tidak hanya di luar negeri tetapi juga di Indonesia.

Sebagaimana negara-negara lain di seluruh dunia, fenomena berkembangnya penggunaan mata uang kripto, baik sebagai instrumen investasi atau transaksi, juga terjadi di Indonesia. 

Berdasarkan data dari Bank Indonesia, pada bulan Maret tahun ini, setidaknya ada sekitar 3,5 juta – 4 juta pengguna mata uang kripto di Indonesia (iNews.id, 7/10/2021).

Angka 3,5 juta – 4 juta orang tentu bukan merupakan angka yang sedikit, dan berpotensi besar terus meningkat dari waktu ke waktu, mengingat sangat besarnya jumlah penduduk Indonesia dan akses internet yang semakin meluas.

Untuk itu, adanya kebijakan regulasi mata uang kripto yang masuk akal dan tepat merupakan langkah yang harus segera diambil oleh para pembuat kebijakan di Indonesia.

Dengan demikian, bila Indonesia mampu menyusun kebijakan tersebut, negara kita akan dapat mendapatkan banyak manfaat dari teknologi mata uang kripto, dan inovasi teknologi ini juga akan semakin meningkat.

Originally published here

September 2021

Hello,

Greetings everyone!
As we roll into Autumn, and the weather outside is getting chillier by the day, we at CCC are turning up the heat, with our team tirelessly working to defend the rights of the consumers all across the world. Without further ado, let’s delve into the many new developments that we had in September.
Principles for smart crypto regulation
While the existence of Bitcoin is no longer news to anyone, following its meteoric rise and the shockwaves it sent across the world, the question arose of what kind of legislative framework it will continue to exist in in the future. Our deputy director Yaël Ossowski and crypto fellow Aleksandar Kokotovic wrote a fascinating policy note on smart crypto regulation, offering a unique perspective on a regulatory framework that maximises innovation, economic inclusion, and consumer protection.
READ MORE
Michael Bloomberg is coming for your vape
Ever wondered who’s the man willing to funnel millions of dollars to deprive developing countries from innovative technologies? Well then CCC has got you covered, with our digital and creative team with Luka Kobalia, Luka Dzagania, and Yaël Ossowski at its head producing a video, exposing how Michael Bloomberg and his brigade have been halting life saving technologies from being accessible in developing countries.
WATCH HERE
US vs EU agriculture regulation
The importance of agriculture regulation cannot be overstated, and Bill’s policy note delves into the depths of the subject of food regulations in the EU and the US, outlining the importance for the US to prioritize the pursuit of greater economic exchange with the EU, instead of emulating the European regulation framework, which, at this time, is inferior to that of the United States.
LEARN MORE
The EV accessibility: Boom or bust?
With the electric vehicle revolution upon us, David and Liz have worked out an in-depth article on EV accessibility for the consumers in the US. While Joe Biden’s ambitious target, of half of the new vehicle sales in 2030 to be comprised of EVs, holds an exciting promise of reducing car emissions in the future, all of these efforts may be futile if an outdated state regulation, limiting direct sales of EVs to consumers, is not addressed.
READ MORE
Sharing Economy series
What is the Sharing Economy? How has it been affected by Covid pandemic? What regulatory changes are in store for it? To answer these questions, and more, Anna has stated a series of short blog posts, analysing different aspects of this exciting and rapidly evolving industry, outlining the benefits that sharing economy services provide for consumers, and what the future may hold for them.
READ MORE
David’s interview on Canadian elections
With polarizing federal elections in Canada, David went on “Counterpoint” to discuss the issues with the English election debates, racial issues caused by Bill 21, missed opportunities of the Green party, and more.
WATCH HERE
FDA and the new smoking pandemic
As the new smoking pandemic lures over us, Maria has worked out a news-piece, explaining how e-cigarettes help smokers quit, the bureaucratic nightmare that vape shop owners have to go through for product market approval, and how the FDA is at fault for putting the lives of countless people at risk. 
READ HERE
That’s a wrap for this month! Stay tuned on all of our social media channels for more info on our current and upcoming activities!

Luka Dzagania
Graphic Designer

The Smart Way to Think About Crypto Regulation

Within the usually boring procedure of shepherding another massive infrastructure bill through Congress last month, a fiery debate erupted over the future of cryptocurrencies and digital assets.

The Senate bill contained broad language to ensure tax and regulatory compliance on all cryptocurrency transactions, regardless of origin, as a revenue generator.

However, traditional financial transactions cannot compare to the complex algorithmic crypto world of mining, staking, rewards, and smart contracts. It is easy to see why many digital currency enthusiasts were alarmed.

In a hackneyed manner no one saw coming, the entire future of the crypto industry, including projects such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Non-Fungible Tokens, and blockchains, was thrown into peril.

Amendments to adapt the language or delete it outright were proposed. But following Senate rules, even a single voice of opposition could kill them. Or, in this case, a desire to spend $50 billion more on defense spending killed them. And that was that.

To be clear, America deserves a fair and substantive debate on the nascent crypto space. If we are to consider regulation, we need testimony from innovators, entrepreneurs, advocates, and skeptics. Instead, we witnessed a collage pasting marathon, with proposals and taxes glued together without even a thought for millions of crypto consumers.

Most shockingly, however, the rules have actually very little to do with the innovative nature of the crypto space and everything to do with how much money legislators thought they could extract from the industry and token holders. This was laid bare in the Biden administration’s fact sheet on the infrastructure bill, which claimed the $1 trillion plan would be funded by “strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to cryptocurrencies.”

Despite the inelegance of these proposals, there are smart and consumer-friendly policies we can adopt on cryptocurrencies and crypto projects.

To begin, federal agencies can concentrate on the causes of fraud and abuse. With every successful crypto token or coin, there are dozens of scam sites or exchanges that defraud users or siphon all digital assets they can before they shut down, known in the industry as a “rug pull.”

By focusing resources on dishonest brokers and projects committing fraud, the government could save millions of consumers from losing their hard-earned money, all the while differentiating between bad actors and good ones. This would help boost confidence in the system overall.

Second, any crypto regulation should make technological neutrality a core tenet, meaning that government should not declare winners or losers. Just like the vinyl record was replaced by the CD-ROM and then the MP3, governments should not choose a preferred technology and instead allow innovation and consumer choice to make that determination.

The less than a decade-old crypto industry hosts an intense competition that rapidly changes each day. Whether through algorithmic mining (Proof of Work) or block validation (Proof of Stake), users and entrepreneurs are testing and adapting best practices. If the government endorses one method or outlaws another, because of environmental or technical concerns, it risks backing the wrong horse and stifling innovation.

Third, regulators must not pigeonhole cryptocurrencies only as investments fit for taxing, but rather as technological tools that empower consumers and foster innovation. A unique crypto asset class, separate from traditional securities, would help users benefit from the decentralization and encryption that these projects offer while ensuring reasonable taxation of gains.

Last, regulators must provide legal certainty to the budding crypto sector or risk pushing all crypto activity to the black market, where no rules or regulations will be followed. The disastrous effects of the Drug War on cannabis users or victims of 1920s Prohibition underscore this point.

Clear guidelines that allow crypto companies to open bank accounts, take out insurance, and compensate workers legally will safeguard innovation, continue to create value for entrepreneurs and consumers, and will allow firms to pay taxes and follow rules. This will be vital.

Legislators should view the crypto industry as a friend rather than a foe. With more opportunities will come more investment, more jobs, and more innovation – and that means we’ll all be better off.

Originally published here

We don’t need State meddling in the digital marketplace

Earlier this month, the Government launched a new regulator called the Digital Markets Unit, a quango designed to introduce new checks and balances to the wide-ranging activities of tech giants like Facebook and Google. It is the Government’s answer to calls from around the world to ‘rein in’ big tech. The body’s launch had been trailed for several months, but it’s still unclear exactly what its parameters or purpose will be.

Some of the rhetoric around the DMU has been positive. The Government’s press release describes it as ‘pro-competition’, which is encouraging. The spin around the DMU launch also places an emphasis on the need to ‘spur development of digital services and lower prices for consumers’.

That all sounds very positive – if it turns out to be true. A consumer-focused approach which seeks more competition, not less, would indeed be a boon for the technology industry and would be a good thing for all of us. Only time will tell whether the Government bears out this consumer-centric rhetoric in the policy of the DMU, or whether it slips into that trap to which state bodies are so often vulnerable, of erring on the side of gratuitous intervention in the market.

There does appear to be some degree of appetite within government for a more intrusive regime which would be highly damaging, both to the companies involved (and therefore the UK economy as a whole) and everyday users of online services like you and I. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, for instance,applauded the Australian government for its pioneering new law forcing online platforms like Facebook and Google to pay for news content.

That move was incredibly damaging in Australia and repeating it in Britain would be a catastrophic mistake. Never before has anyone had to pay a content producer in order to a host a link on their platform. In fact, even a rudimentary understanding of how the online marketplace works makes it clear that the dynamic is the other way around – people fork out huge sums for digital advertising packages, meaning they pay in order to put their links on more people’s screens.

The Australian government’s decision, then, to intervene arbitrarily in the market and force Facebook and Google to pay news outlets in order host their content did nothing for the user or the free market. All it achieved was moving some money from Mark Zuckerberg’s pocket into Rupert Murdoch’s. Matt Hancock’s strident approval of that policy – for which no one, not even the Australian government which implemented it, seems able to provide a coherent defence – is a bad sign.

Factions and frontiers are beginning to form within the Government and the Conservative Party more broadly on this. Even within Cabinet, dividing lines are starting to emerge between figures like Hancock, who seem to favour more intervention from the Government, and others like Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and  Digital, Culture, Media and Sport secretary Oliver Dowden who – so far at least – appear to be on the side of the free market and of the belief that the DMU should aid competition, not seek to restructure it from the ground up.

Only time will tell which side wins out in the end. The DMU could yet be a hero or a villain. We can only hope that the Government will keep the consumer front and centre in their minds when crafting their technology policy.

Originally published here.

Nueva Ley Federal de Cinematografía perjudicaría a los consumidores

Luca Bertoletti, responsable de Asuntos Gubernamentales de Consumer Choice Center (Centro de Elección del Consumidor), se refirió en entrevista a la iniciativa para crear nueva Ley Federal de Cinematografía y el Audiovisual.

Las cuotas de contenido en México: va contra los consumidores

La decisión del senador Monreal de impulsar las cuotas de contenido en el Senado el lunes va en contra de los consumidores. Hay muchos ejemplos de por qué las cuotas de contenido no funcionan. Tomemos como ejemplo la Unión Europea: desde que el bloque europeo puso en marcha la ley de cuotas de contenido, de todos los estados miembros de la UE, Lituania obtiene el mayor acceso con el 52% de los títulos. Con sólo un 11%, Portugal obtiene la peor experiencia para los abonados.

La idea de que las cuotas de contenido impulsarán automáticamente la producción cinematográfica local es utópica: es igual de probable que los servicios de streaming reduzcan el total de títulos disponibles para ajustarse a la cuota sin necesidad de gastar fondos adicionales. Dijo Luca Bertoletti, responsable de asuntos gubernamentales del Consumer Choice Center.

Nos hemos comprometido con casi un millón de consumidores mexicanos y pedimos a los responsables políticos que nos escuchen. Las cuotas de contenido sólo harán más fuerte el mercado ilegal y pondrán un precedente peligroso para el éxito del Tratado de Libre Comercio, especialmente el USMCA y el acuerdo de libre comercio con la Unión Europea. ¿es este el legado que quiere dejar este senado? – concluyó Bertoletti.

Originally published here.

Податок на інтернет гігантів платитимемо самі українці!

Замість того, щоб довести до пуття наболілі економічні та судову реформи, маємо новий податок.

Як відомо, 17 лютого Верховна Рада прийняла за основу законопроект про так званий податок «на Гугл», який зобов’яже «big tech» (інтернет-гігантів) сплачувати податок на додану вартість до українського бюджету. Необхідність даногозаконодавчого акту, як пояснюють парламентарі-ініціатори, полягає в тому, що несплата компаніями-нерезидентами ПДВ призводить до втрат державного бюджету та створює неконкурентне середовище для резидентів-платників.

Дякуючи пандемії та локдаунам, що стали її наслідком, світ більшою мірою перейшов онлайн. Останній рік став переломним моментом для цифрової економіки. Вона рятувала нас від самотності під час квітневого й  лютневого локдаунів, допомогала просувати власні бізнес-ідеї через рекламу в соцмережах та заохочувала створення нових додатків девелоперами. Йдеться про реальних споживачів. І саме їм — нам з вами — доведеться платити цей ПДВ.

Перелік послуг, які охоплює нове регулювання, є досить широким. Зокрема, до таких послуг, зокрема, але не виключно, належать:

а) постачання зображень або текстів, в тому числі фотографій, електронних книжок та журналів;
б) постачання аудіовізуальних творів, відео на замовлення, ігор, азартні ігри, включаючи постачання послуг з участі в таких іграх;
в) надання доступу до інформаційних, комерційних, освітніх та розважальних електронних ресурсів та інших подібних ресурсів;г) надання в користування хмарних технологій для розміщення даних;
ґ) постачання (передача прав на використання) програмного забезпечення та оновлень до нього, а також дистанційне обслуговування програмного забезпечення та електронного обладнання;
д) надання рекламних послуг в мережі інтернет, мобільних додатках та інших електронних ресурсах.

Податок на додану вартість, як відомо, є непрямим податком, який сплачується покупцем послуг, але саме адміністрування здійснюється продавцем. Таким чином, будь-які послуги, які ми зараз отримуємо через інтернет (Youtube, Netflix, Google, Apple, AliExpress) автоматично подорожчають на 20 відсотків. Аналогічне подорожчання відбудеться в сфері e-commerce, а зокрема розміщувати реклами в соціальних мережах та мобільних додатках стане дорожче. Разом із тим поширення ПДВ на інтернет-гігантів матиме прямий негативний вплив на малий бізнес в Україні, якому можливості інтернету дозволили комунікувати свою пропозицію більш ефективно.

Сама ставка ПДВ на електронні послуги та й загалом  є досить високою. В одній із найбільш економічно вільних країн світу Сінгапурі вона становить 7 відсотків, в Америці  до 10, в Канаді  6. Очевидно, що розширити спектр регулювання вже встановленої ставки ПДВ на електронні послуги для регулювання конкуренції є набагато легше, аніж зменшити ставку повністю. Конкуренція на всіх ринках процвітає там, де держава мінімально втручається в цюсферу.

Але наші парламентарі чомусь вирішили, що нам треба йти дорогою Росії, на яку вони посилаються в пояснювальній записці до законопроекту. «Із 1 січня 2017 року в Російській Федерації був введений податок, який зобов’язав нерезидентів сплачувати податок на додану вартість із продажу на території РФ електронних послуг: цифрового контенту, послуг зберігання та обробки інформації, реєстрації доменів і хостингу тощо, при цьому вони повинні стати на податковий облік. Серед технологічних гігантів у контролюючому органі РФ зареєструвалися Apple Distribution International, Google Commerce, Microsoft Ireland, Netflix International B.V., Wargaming Group, Bloomberg, Alibaba, Booking.com та інші. Загалом із моменту впровадження податку на податковий облік стало 1580 компаній. За офіційними даними до бюджету такими компаніями (B2C) було сплачено у тому ж 2017 році  9,4 млдр. руб., у 2018 – 12 млдр. руб., у І кварталі 2019 – 12 млдр. руб. (70% суми припадає на найбільші IT компанії). Аналогічні податкові правила введені в Республіці Білорусь у 2018 році».

Рухаємося на захід до кращого та вільного майбутнього, так? А загалом, цифри про те, скільки надходжень до державного бюджету допоміг отримати новий ПДВ не можуть бути ключовим аргументом у випадку України. Як ми добре знаємо, всі надходження до бюджету проходять мільйон корупційних схема ранішеше, ніж якась мінімальна частина з них впаде на нас у вигляді послуг, соціальних гарантій тощо. Саме така доля чекає й на новий ПДВ. Нам треба зосередитися на тому, щоб лишити більше грошей на руках у звичайних громадян і дати їм можливість витрачати так, як вони вважають за потрібне.

Певно, одним з найпроблемніших аспектів даного законопроекту є бюрократія. Компаніям-нерезидентам доведеться мати справу з нашою славнозвісною податковою й наділення її новими владними повноваженнями викликає занепокоєння. Відповідно до законопроекту, при проведенні перевірки спрощеної податкової декларації, поданої особою нерезидентом, ДПС може витребувати в особи нерезидента та третіх осіб інформацію й документи, які підтверджують факт постачання на митній території України електронних послуг фізичним особам, вартість поставлених послуг та терміни їх оплати.

Загалом, головне, що нам всім варто зрозуміти стосовно розширення регулювання ПДВ, це те, що платити за податкову новацію доведеться нам з вами, а для малих девелоперів та бізнесу це підсилить тягар ведення діяльності в Україні. Що з цими грошима робитиме держава – невідомо. Але замість того, щоб довести до пуття наболілі економічні та судову реформи, маємо новий податок. Податок на сервіси, які комусь дозволяють заробити, а комусь — відпочити від негативних новин про ковід за серіалом.

Originally published here.

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