Digital

Note to the European Commission: no need for a new competition tool

As the European Commission is seeking to introduce a new competition tool to better handle market issues surrounding digital platforms, there is an urgent need to provide a pro-consumer and a pro-innovation perspective on the matter.  We, at the Consumer Choice Center, believe that amending the existing antitrust legislation – articles 101 and 102 of the EU Treaty – shouldn’t be seen as the goal in itself. Instead, the Commission should consider the underlying issues affecting the conditions leading up to the anticompetitive behaviour in the digital market. 

For the market to ensure the most efficient outcome, competition has to be fair so that all respective parties can compete under fair conditions. While antitrust laws play an important role in safeguarding competition, they shouldn’t be seen as a panacea. Instead, the goal should be to create and sustain a framework that doesn’t pick winners and losers, but safeguards intellectual property rights, keep taxation low to encourage returns, limit barrier of entry and make investment easy.

There are many outdated laws in the EU that make it burdensome to create new and innovative digital services before they ever hit the market. One example is the lack of a European-wide license for audiovisual services, forcing service providers to apply in every Member State if they want to show their content. It is the same for most other digital services in the EU, including music streaming or news collection.

Anti-competitive monopolisation where one market player may rapidly acquire market shares due to its capacity to put competitors at a disadvantage in the market unfairly is probably one of the most important factors hindering competition. However, what is crucial here isn’t the dominance of one player but the fact that they resort to unfair competition practices to impact the behaviour of other players. One issue that requires more attention on the side of regulators is that the notion of “unfair competition” provides a lot of discretion which often leads to misleading assessment and unjustified antitrust proceedings. The mechanisms for determining what is “unfair competition” have to be more specific.

In terms of highly concentrated markets where only one or few players are present, which allows to align their market behaviour, the solution is once again to liberalise the digital market so such a situation doesn’t occur in the first place. 

In our opinion, non-structural remedies such as an obligation to abstain from certain commercial behaviour would be most effective. An obligation to abstain from using unfair trading practices, especially those leading to anti-competitive monopolisation is crucial. Businesses should be made aware of the consequences of engaging in unfair practices and obliged to comply, The notion of obligation is linked to personal or business responsibility whereas bans have a preventive and prohibiting nature. Bans would alter the behaviour of businesses: they would be primarily incentivised to avoid the penalty instead of complying with the rules.

The existing antitrust rules do not discriminate between various sectors of the economy, and there is no need to come with rules specific to the digital market. The antitrust rules should be the same for all sectors of the economy to be effective. Sector-specific antitrust legislation will unfortunately only add more confusion, and make it harder for new businesses to get their head around new regulations. It is very hard to draw a clear line between all sectors, not least because the future of innovation is uncertain, and we simply cannot predict what new business will emerge. In the spirit of the rule of law, rules have to be unified.

In conclusion, there is no need for a new competition tool. Antitrust proceedings are costly and drive businesses out of the market. Instead, we should liberalise the European digital single market to make it easier for small business to enter and for the existing ones to operate on equal terms with the more successful ones, and that will ensure that there is no possibility for a single player to monopolise the supply of digital services.

By Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center

Beware Those Coming After Your Delivery Apps

on-demand-food-app-fb

The pandemic has, for better or worse, forced us to live online. That has made internet retail, digital services and delivery apps a godsend for millions of us sequestered at home.

This entirely new sector of the economy has allowed us to safely buy and enjoy without the risk of coronavirus. At the press of a button, your favorite food and drinks are magically delivered to your door.

But as you bite into your meal delivered by Grubhub, Uber Eats or DoorDash, there is a movement afoot to make that even more difficult.

Getting in between you and your food delivery is a coalition of advocacy groups working around the country to regulate, limit and severely restrict companies that offer delivery via applications.

Dubbing themselves “Protect Our Restaurants,” this Washington-based coalition of social justice groups is calling on state and local government to cap the commissions on delivery service apps.

They have already been successful in the District of Columbia, Seattle and San Francisco, where commission rates for food deliveries are now capped at 15 percent. And there is a bevy of other city councils lining up to join them, some wanted an even lower cap at 5 percent.

They claim delivery companies, the same ones that have empowered consumers, given vast new capabilities to restaurants and provided good income to couriers, are “exploiting” each of these groups in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

The hospitality industry is already on its last leg due to state-imposed lockdowns. Why would getting in the way between you and your next hot meal be the new issue of economic and social justice?

In July, it was projected by the NPD group that restaurant deliveries made up as much as 7 percent of food orders, 50 percent more than pre-pandemic. That number is underestimated, but it proves the rush is not yet over.

That means more customers are using food delivery apps to put meals on the table, sampling restaurants and kitchens so desperate for the income. And that service comes at a price.

For orders placed through a delivery app to a restaurant, the app charges either a flat or percentage-based fee as a commission, which funds the logistics, the courier’s pay and marketing costs. This amount varies between 13.5 percent and 40 percent, depending on which options a restaurant agrees to when they sign up.

It is that variance in commission rates that so enrages activists in this space. Plenty of anecdotes have swarmed social media warning of high fees for conducting businesses through the apps.

And while these caps on commission are well intended, they are counter-productive.

It will mean fewer order volumes that can be processed, less money will be available to couriers who sign up to deliver for the app, and apps will have to limit which businesses they accept. That would hurt restaurants, couriers and consumers who depend on these services.

This would end up hurting more people than it purports to help. That would be both anti-consumer and anti-innovation in the same fell swoop, which seems bonkers several months into a pandemic.

The other complaint mounted is antitrust concerns, similar to congressional hearings against Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google earlier this month. Activists want to use the weapons of the Federal Trade Commission to break up the “monopoly power” of delivery services.

Most of these companies, however, are true American success stories. They have existed for less than 10 years, have pivoted multiple times, expanded their services, and found a good niche empowering restaurants to quickly and reliably get their food to delivery customers.

Thousands of delivery workers have quick and easy work, giving much-needed income to students, those between jobs, and people who want extra income. They often contract with multiple services, depending on which offers the highest commission per delivery, similar to rideshare drivers.

The benefits to restaurants are also clear: less money is spent on hiring a delivery driver or vehicle, commissions charged are transparent and partnering with a well-known app helps attracts more customers who would otherwise never order from that specific restaurant. Most of these restaurants likely never had delivery before they signed up for these apps. That is hardly a case for trustbusting.

If those aiming to regulate food delivery companies and are successful in doing so, they’ll set up a paradox of their own making: the only companies that will be able to comply with the regulations and caps will be the firms with the most capital and resources. This would lockout any potential new competition and do more to restrict consumer choice than enhance it.

The last few months have provided every consumer with plenty of uncertainty. Being able to order products right to our door, though, has been a blessing.

Intervening in the market to undermine the choice of consumers and business contracts with restaurants would make that process arguably worse, and not better.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Beware Those Coming After Your Delivery Apps

Beware Those Coming After Your Delivery Apps

The pandemic has, for better or worse, forced us to live online. That has made internet retail, digital services and delivery apps a godsend for millions of us sequestered at home.

This entirely new sector of the economy has allowed us to safely buy and enjoy without the risk of coronavirus. At the press of a button, your favorite food and drinks are magically delivered to your door.

But as you bite into your meal delivered by Grubhub, Uber Eats or DoorDash, there is a movement afoot to make that even more difficult.

Getting in between you and your food delivery is a coalition of advocacy groups working around the country to regulate, limit and severely restrict companies that offer delivery via applications.

Dubbing themselves “Protect Our Restaurants,” this Washington-based coalition of social justice groups is calling on state and local government to cap the commissions on delivery service apps.

They have already been successful in the District of Columbia, Seattle and San Francisco, where commission rates for food deliveries are now capped at 15 percent. And there is a bevy of other city councils lining up to join them, some wanted an even lower cap at 5 percent.

They claim delivery companies, the same ones that have empowered consumers, given vast new capabilities to restaurants and provided good income to couriers, are “exploiting” each of these groups in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

The hospitality industry is already on its last leg due to state-imposed lockdowns. Why would getting in the way between you and your next hot meal be the new issue of economic and social justice?

In July, it was projected by the NPD group that restaurant deliveries made up as much as 7 percent of food orders, 50 percent more than pre-pandemic. That number is underestimated, but it proves the rush is not yet over.

That means more customers are using food delivery apps to put meals on the table, sampling restaurants and kitchens so desperate for the income. And that service comes at a price.

For orders placed through a delivery app to a restaurant, the app charges either a flat or percentage-based fee as a commission, which funds the logistics, the courier’s pay and marketing costs. This amount varies between 13.5 percent and 40 percent, depending on which options a restaurant agrees to when they sign up.

It is that variance in commission rates that so enrages activists in this space. Plenty of anecdotes have swarmed social media warning of high fees for conducting businesses through the apps.

And while these caps on commission are well intended, they are counter-productive.

It will mean fewer order volumes that can be processed, less money will be available to couriers who sign up to deliver for the app, and apps will have to limit which businesses they accept. That would hurt restaurants, couriers and consumers who depend on these services.

This would end up hurting more people than it purports to help. That would be both anti-consumer and anti-innovation in the same fell swoop, which seems bonkers several months into a pandemic.

The other complaint mounted is antitrust concerns, similar to congressional hearings against Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google earlier this month. Activists want to use the weapons of the Federal Trade Commission to break up the “monopoly power” of delivery services.

Most of these companies, however, are true American success stories. They have existed for less than 10 years, have pivoted multiple times, expanded their services, and found a good niche empowering restaurants to quickly and reliably get their food to delivery customers.

Thousands of delivery workers have quick and easy work, giving much-needed income to students, those between jobs, and people who want extra income. They often contract with multiple services, depending on which offers the highest commission per delivery, similar to rideshare drivers.

The benefits to restaurants are also clear: less money is spent on hiring a delivery driver or vehicle, commissions charged are transparent and partnering with a well-known app helps attracts more customers who would otherwise never order from that specific restaurant. Most of these restaurants likely never had delivery before they signed up for these apps. That is hardly a case for trustbusting.

If those aiming to regulate food delivery companies and are successful in doing so, they’ll set up a paradox of their own making: the only companies that will be able to comply with the regulations and caps will be the firms with the most capital and resources. This would lockout any potential new competition and do more to restrict consumer choice than enhance it.

The last few months have provided every consumer with plenty of uncertainty. Being able to order products right to our door, though, has been a blessing.

Intervening in the market to undermine the choice of consumers and business contracts with restaurants would make that process arguably worse, and not better.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Argentina’s telecom price controls are economic masochism

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Last week, in a bid to ensure unrestricted access for everyone to telecommunication services, the Argentinian government decided to extend a price freeze for TV, internet and mobile services until the end of the year, deeming them “essential public services”.

Prices on these services have been frozen since May, and it was expected that the ban would be lifted at the end of this month.

In response, Luca Bertoletti, Senior European Affairs Manager at the Consumer Choice Center, criticises the move saying that such a policy was populist and economically illiterate, and will destroy Argentina’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund who has been supportive of the country’s – though unsuccessful so far – road to prosperity.

“The Covid-19 crisis has overburdened most economies in the world and Argentina is no different. In order to help the economy get back on track, the Argentinian government will finally need to implement pro-free market reforms instead of holding onto socialist policies such as price controls on telecom services,” said Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center.

“Argentina’s government should pull itself together and start making the right decisions, instead of pushing the country further down. Argentina deserves better than a populist government that pretends to act in the interests of consumers by extending price controls of TV, internet and mobile services at the expense of future prosperity,” concluded Bertoletti.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Análisis internacional: “Cómo los controles de precios en Argentina podrían tener consecuencia de gran alcance”

Luca Bertoletti y Maria Chaplia, Senior European Affairs y Asociada de Asuntos Europeos,en el Consumer Choice Center respectivamente, analizaron la decisión del Gobierno argentino de declarar “esenciales” a los servicios de telecomunicaciones y las consecuencias que traerá no sólo en el país, sino en el mundo.

Telecomunicaciones, Argentina

La semana pasada, en un intento por asegurar el acceso irrestricto de todos a los servicios de telecomunicaciones, el gobierno argentino decidió extender la congelación de precios de los servicios de TV, Internet y móviles hasta fin de año, por considerarlos “servicios públicos esenciales”. Los precios de estos servicios han estado congelados desde mayo, y se esperaba que la prohibición se levantara a finales de este mes.

Prohibir que las empresas de telecomunicaciones suban los precios puede parecer una política sensata, pero es todo lo contrario. Los controles de precios son una política económica desastrosa e irresponsable que solo conduce a una escasez de oferta, lo que priva a los consumidores de opciones, expulsa del mercado a las empresas que alguna vez tuvieron éxito y reduce la calidad de los servicios prestados.

La crisis de Covid-19 ha sobrecargado a la mayoría de las economías del mundo y Argentina no es diferente. El camino hacia la recuperación económica requerirá una gran inversión que requiere la certeza legislativa. Las empresas latinoamericanas a menudo tienen que recurrir al financiamiento externo y cuando surgen riesgos sin precedentes, como los controles de precios, el costo del financiamiento también aumenta, según Maryleana Méndez, secretaria general de la Asociación Interamericana de Empresas de Telecomunicaciones.

A primera vista, la decisión del gobierno argentino de extender los controles de precios puede verse como la que beneficia a los consumidores. La lógica detrás de dichos controles de precios es clara: asegurarse de que todos los consumidores argentinos, incluso los de bajos ingresos, puedan disfrutar de los servicios de televisión, Internet y móviles.

Si bien este enfoque tiene su origen en motivos nobles, lamentablemente está condenado al fracaso y, al final, las empresas perderán todos los incentivos para operar en el mercado. Si las empresas no tienen la libertad de fijar precios como deseen, teniendo en cuenta sus costos operativos, ¿cuál es la razón para continuar? Una solución es reducir la calidad de sus precios simplemente para mantenerse a flote. Por el contrario, los consumidores que pueden pagar más se quedan fuera y no se puede satisfacer su demanda.

La intromisión del gobierno argentino en las fuerzas del mercado es inaceptable y socialista en su esencia, y también empeorará la relación del país con el Fondo Monetario Internacional. Y aunque el gobierno del presidente Alberto Fernández (y sus predecesores) ha desconfiado ampliamente del FMI, Argentina es el principal cliente del FMI.

El país ha recibido más de 20 programas de ayuda financiera del FMI desde finales de la década de 1950. Argentina permanece constantemente al borde del colapso, por lo que ya es hora de que el país tome el camino de la liberalización económica y comience a tomar su relación con el FMI más en serio en lugar de llevar a cabo otra intervención dañina y populista. Los controles de precios son masoquismo económico.

Todo consumidor desea tener tantas opciones para elegir como sea posible y poder equilibrar razonablemente el precio y la calidad. Si no hay nadie que les proporcione estas opciones, todos pierden, especialmente a largo plazo. Al igual que con los derechos de propiedad intelectual, si las empresas no obtienen protección para sus invenciones, hay pocos incentivos para que innoven.

La sobreregulación de la industria de las telecomunicaciones es una política costosa que tendrá un impacto negativo en el clima de inversión de Argentina en el futuro, obstaculizando su recuperación económica y destruyendo su relación con el FMI. El gobierno de Argentina debería recuperarse y comenzar a tomar las decisiones correctas, en lugar de empujar al país más hacia abajo. Argentina se merece algo mejor que un gobierno populista que pretende actuar en interés de los consumidores ampliando los controles de precios de los servicios de televisión, internet y móviles a costa de la prosperidad futura.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

How price controls in Argentina could have far-reaching consequences

Last week, in a bid to ensure unrestricted access for everyone to telecommunication services, the Argentinian government decided to extend a price freeze for TV, internet and mobile services until the end of the year, deeming them “essential public services”. Prices on these services have been frozen since May, and it was expected that the ban would be lifted at the end of this month.

Banning telecommunications companies from raising prices might seem like a sensible policy, but the opposite is true. Price controls are a disastrous and irresponsible economic policy that only leads to a shortage of supply, thereby depriving consumers of choice, driving once-successful companies out of the market and reducing the quality of services provided.

The Covid-19 crisis has overburdened most economies in the world and Argentina is no different. The road to economic recovery will require a lot of investment that necessitates the need for legislative certainty. Latin American companies often have to resort to external financing and when unprecedented risks arise – such as price controls – the cost of financing goes up as well, according to Maryleana Mendez, general secretary of the Inter-American Association of Telecommunications Companies.

At first glance, the decision of the Argentinian government to extend price controls can be seen as the one that benefits consumers. The logic behind the said price controls is clear: to make sure that every Argentinian consumer – even those on low incomes – can enjoy TV, internet and mobile services.

While this approach stems from the noble motives, it is unfortunately doomed to fail and, in the end, companies will lose every incentive to operate in the market. If companies don’t have the freedom to set prices as they wish – keeping in mind their operational costs – what is the reason for them to carry on? One solution is to reduce the quality of their prices simply to keep afloat. Conversely, consumers who can afford to pay more are left out, and their demand cannot be met.

Argentina government’s meddling with the market forces is unacceptable and socialist ait its core, and will also worsen the country’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund. And while the government of President Alberto Fernandez (and his predecessors) has been widely distrustful of the IMF, Argentina is the IMF’s biggest client.

The country has received more than 20 financial aid programmes from the IMF since the late 1950s. Argentina constantly remains on the brink of collapse, so it’s high time the country took the path of economic liberalisation and started taking its relationship with the IMF more seriously instead of pulling off another harmful and populist intervention. Price controls are economic masochism.

Every consumer wants to have as many options to choose from as possible and to be able to reasonably balance out price and quality. If there is no one to provide these choices for them, everyone loses, especially in the long run. Similar to intellectual property rights, if companies don’t get protection for their inventions, there is little incentive for them to innovate.

The overregulation of the telecommunications industry is an expensive policy that will have a negative impact on Argentina’s investment climate in the future thereby hindering its economic recovery and destroying its relationship with the IMF. Argentina’s government should pull itself together and start making the right decisions, instead of pushing the country further down. Argentina deserves better than a populist government that pretends to act in the interests of consumers by extending price controls of TV, internet and mobile services at the expense of future prosperity.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

L’Inps ha (di nuovo) violato la privacy di milioni di italiani

In queste ore si chiedono a gran voce nomi e dimissioni di tutti e cinque parlamentari che hanno chiesto il bonus Inps da 600 euro. Nonostante questa scelta possa essere considerata inopportuna: “L’Inps e il suo presidente questa volta hanno superato ogni limite della legalità, violando la privacy di milioni di italiani”. Questa è l’opinione di Luca Bertoletti, responsabile Europeo del Consumer Choice Center.

Inps e privacy. Stavolta qualcosa proprio non va. In queste ore si chiedono a gran voce nomi e dimissioni di tutti e cinque parlamentari che hanno chiesto il bonus Inps da 600 euro. Nonostante questa scelta possa essere considerata inopportuna, e sicuramente è l’ennesima prova di una classe politica inadeguata:

l’Inps e il suo presidente Pasquale Tridico questa volta hanno superato ogni limite della legalità, violando la privacy di milioni di italiani“.

Questa è l’opinione di Luca Bertoletti, responsabile europeo del Consumer Choice Center, associazione internazionale di consumatori attiva soprattutto tra Stati Uniti e Canada, ma anche nell’America Latina e in Europa.

Trovando i nomi dei 5 politici, l’Inps ha violato anche la nostra privacy 

Non c’è stata nessuna violazione della legge e, seppur in modo quantomeno inopportuno, i tre parlamentari hanno ottenuto i soldi superando regolarmente tutti i controlli dell’Inps.

“Ma quindi -continua Bertoletti- adesso la domanda è: come mai l’Inps li ha segnalati? E soprattutto con quale potere l’Inps ha controllato il lavoro che questi individui fanno, violandone così la privacy?”.

“Dimissioni del presidente dell’Inps e indagine interna su come e chi ha violato la privacy dei cittadini”

Secondo il Consumer Choice Center, attivo anche sull’Asia e che si occupa prevalentemente di privacy, ma anche di nuove tecnologie (in particolare dello sviluppo sul 5G), per come stanno le cose diventa necessaria non solo un’indagine interna all’Inps, su come e chi ha controllato la vita privata di cittadini, scoprendo il lavoro che fanno, e facendolo trapelare ai media, ma anche le dimissioni immediate del Presidente dell’Inps Pasquale Tridico:

Tutela della privacy, cosa avrebbe dovuto fare l’Inps

“Da legge governativa l’Inps avrebbe dovuto semplicemente verificare i codici Ateco per ciascuna partita Iva. E basta”. E invece… “Per carità, in realtà l’Inps è stato bravissimo a recuperare l’identità dei parlamentari. Ma la legge non prevedeva in alcun modo di risalire a nomi e cognomi di ciascun codice Ateco”.

E allora la domanda è: con quali mezzi è riuscita a scoprire l’identità dei titolari della partita Iva, con buona pace della privacy, attraverso l’incrocio dei dati delle occupazioni vere dei titolari?

“Per farlo è evidente che è stato fatto un check a tappeto esteso su tutti i codici Ateco. Non essendoci tetti o paletti nella richiesta del bonus –poteva chiederlo chiunque avesse una partita iva attiva NdR– questi controlli non erano necessari”. 

Inps, che velocità nel risalire ai nomi e a consegnarli alla stampa!

L’altro aspetto della vicenda riguarda la velocità con cui i nomi sono stati consegnati alla stampa: “Con veline tipiche della prima repubblica, come se fosse stata una conferenza stampa -continua Bertoletti di Consumer Choice Center-. Se si considera il fatto che per ricevere la cassa integrazione e gli stessi bonus molti italiani, in questo caso gente che di soldi ne aveva bisogno per davvero, ha douto fare una trafila infinita e addirittura c’è chi ancora non ha ricevuto niente, altre che si sono ritrovati cognomi diversi o dati che appartenevano ad altre persone”.

Insomma, un organo come l’Inps, è così che la pensa Bertoletti, avrebbe dovuto fare una cosa sola. Abbinare il bonus al codice Ateco. E invece ha indagato nella privacy di ciascun codice e ciascuna partita Iva. Risalendo all’identità di ciascun codice e risalendo al titolare di ciascuna partita Iva, arrivando a scoprire i nomi dei parlamentari e dei politici, necessariamente andando ad abbinare un nome, un cognome e un volto di tutti i professionisti autonomi che avevano fatto richiesta. Un gran lavoro. Ma che la legge non prevedeva. Un lavoro inopportuno. 

Tra un mese il referendum: sarà un caso?

Il presidente dell’Inps Pasquale Tridico lo ha già detto e ribadito più volte in questi giorni: “Nessun collegamento tra il referendum di settembre e la comunicazione dei 5 parlamentari che hanno chiesto il bonus. Non è un caso montato. Chi proverà ad accusarci ancora sarà querelato“.

Luca Bertoletti di Consumer Choice Center risponde così:

“Beh, allora sicuramente è una coincidenza così evitiamo di essere querelati. Ma è una coincidenza che avviene il giorno dopo che la consulta ha detto sì all’Election Day, accorpando Elezioni Regionali e Referendum. E il giorno stesso in cui alcuni sondaggi davano in vantaggio il No dei cittadini al taglio dei parlamentari. Ma sicuramente è una coincidenza”.

Il ruolo dell’organo Inps sull’antifrode, anticorruzione e trasparenza

Altro paradosso: a scoprire i nomi dei parlamentari è stato l’organo dell’Inps sull’antifrode, anticorruzione e che tutela la trasparenza. Ma in questo caso non c’è frode né corruzione. I politici avevano tutto il diritto di chiedere il bonus. E neanche di mancanza di trasparenza si può parlare perché la trasparenza non era necessaria. Bastava il codice. E la partita iva aperta:

Aggiunge Bertoletti: “La narrativa mainstream è totalmente contro i cinque deputati e i vari migliaia di politici locali e regionali che piano piano si stanno autodenunciando. Ora, abbiamo scoperto che l’ufficio antifrode che controlla dati sensibili li ha rilasciati al pubblico. Ma la domanda è: non avrebbe dovuto invece semplicemente controllare che le partite iva fossero attive? E’ quei che sta una basilare violazione della privacy dei cittadini. Inps può fare tutti i controlli che vuole ma non è che se le mie idee sono contrarie a un comportamento considerato etico dalla maggior parte delle persone allora è autorizzata a dare il mio nome in pasto alla stampa”. 

La questione della privacy: così il Garante ha sbugiardato l’Inps

Il passaggio successivo allo scoperchiamento del vaso di pandora, e cioè la notizia della richiesta del bonus da parte di parlamentari e governatori regionali, con l’Inps che si è difesa dicendo: “Non diamo i nomi perché dobbiamo tutelare la privacy” è quello relativo al Garante. Che di fatto ha smentito categoricamente l’Inps.

Essendo personaggi pubblici, e siccome si parla di soldi pubblici, la loro identità, per come si sono messe le cose, si possono e si devono rivelare. Intanto però ha anche aperto un’istruttoria per capire con quali metodi si è risaliti alla scoperta dell’esistenza di una “classe” politica così ampia che ha fatto richiesta del bonus: “Un altro, l’ennesimo paradosso di questa storia: da una parte il Garante ha le mani legate. Perché in questo caso la privacy non vale più. Il problema sta alla radice, con la domanda da cui abbiamo iniziato la nostra riflessione, e cioe: come ha fatto l’Inps ha scoprire la loro identità?”.

Privacy violata: una delle pagine più tristi dell’Inps

Per Consumer Choice Center, si tratta di una delle pagine più tristi dell’Inps e che funge da perfetta fotografia di una macchina statale talmente contorta su se stessa che non è più neanche in grado di capire se quello che fa è lecito oppure no.

“Si parlava di organo che tutela e garantisce la trasparenza. Ma in questo caso chi si è macchiato di mancanza di trasparenza è proprio l’Inps, non i politici”.

Politici che, questa è la sensazione, riusciranno a farla franca anche questa volta. Probabilmente saranno cacciati dai loro partiti, questa è una delle minacce del leader della Lega Matteo Salvini. Ma in qualche modo riusciranno a mantenere il loro posto in Parlamento. “Non dimentichiamoci che questo caos sarebbe venuto ugualmente fuori a dicembre -conclude Bertoletti- quando i deputati sono obbligati a pubblicare i loro guadagni e il loro 730, dove ovviamente i 600 euro dell’Inps sarebbero stati necessariamente segnalati. 

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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

Why Amazon’s investment in Deliveroo could be good news for consumers

In May 2019 the global e-commerce powerhouse Amazon invested roughly 500 million USD in the British food delivery service Deliveroo leading to a 16% equity stake in that company. The British competition watchdog Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued a statement asking both companies for concessions (usually agreeing to sell off some businesses or leave some markets to reduce market shares) in order to see the deal green-lighted. While the battle for leadership in the global ready-to-eat meal delivery market has been on for years, Amazon’s (re-)entry in this market might be excellent news for consumers.

Right now Deliveroo is mainly active in European markets (though it left one of its main markets, Germany, earlier this year due to labor disputes) and currently expands into Asian countries. It competes with similar companies such as UberEats or Delivery Hero. As an early adopter of such services I have tried most of them in various European cities. One common weakness of their offering can be seen in their predominating business attitude of focussing more on acquiring and keeping more restaurants on their platform instead of servicing their (ordering end-) customers.

Some of the poor customer experience can be seen in the lack of standardized (or non leaking) packaging and usually little to no help in case of missing items, cold food, or massive delays. Customer service usually tells you that they are merely the broker and are not liable for the restaurants faults. And while the platforms usually refund you for missing food, this is usually not what you want when you are very hungry on a Friday evening and need to rush to the movies (such a situation and a no-show of my pizza was when I deleted Deliveroo from my phone).

Amazon tried restaurants once before and failed in the UK market. They might have been too early or were not able to get sufficient market shares quickly enough. Their new and very pricey attempt to get back into the European ready-to-eat meal delivery should be applauded by consumers:

Amazon is one of the most customer-centric companies out there. The consumer is usually always right and Amazon is there to make it right. Amazon’s grocery service Fresh is a great example on how to constantly provide customer service on a high level.

That consumer focus is currently lacking in the food delivery sector. A strategic investment in food delivery companies with combined know how transfer and keeping the importance of the end user in mind could really bring food deliveries to the next level. Great for everyone who does not have time to cook a meal every evening!

Apparently the CMA sees this differently. The BBC reports:

But, on Friday, the regulator said Amazon had failed to deal with "initial concerns that their investment in Deliveroo could be bad for customers, restaurants and grocers".
The CMA is worried that Amazon's plans to invest in Deliveroo could stop it from launching a rival company, which would increase competition and potentially lower prices for consumers.

If competition watchdogs now stop any attempt of horizontal integration of companies because they are worried that this would stop the creation of new companies we would open the floodgates of antitrust litigation.

“There are relatively few players in these markets, so we’re concerned that Amazon having this kind of influence over Deliveroo could dampen the emerging competition between the two businesses.”

CMA executive director Andrea Gomes da Silva

Let’s also keep in mind that the meal delivery market is losing hundreds of millions a year in the UK alone. The CMA stopping consolidation of the market will also prevent this sector to turn profitable in the near future – and that could jeopardize the success of this entire industry in Europe.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/760546/deliveroo-income-loss/

I really hope that the CMA will listen to consumers that actually use food delivery services and don’t just stick to the old antitrust textbook of an analogue world or the pressure from brick and mortar retailers who might have missed the train of going digital and convenient. A dash of Amazon’s customer-centricity might make me reinstall Deliveroo and use it for good.

Keine Angst vor 5G

Panikmache über angebliche Gefahren der 5G-Technologie kommt aus verschiedenen Ecken. Das sollte dem Fortschritt nicht im Wege stehen.

Jede Technologie bringt ein gewisses Maß an Skepsis mit sich. Ob es nun um die Entdeckung der Elektrizität, die Erfindung des Zuges oder die Ankunft der Mikrowelle als Ergänzung unserer Küchenausstattung geht: Kritische Stimmen werfen wichtige Sicherheitsfragen auf. Das 5G-Netz (steht für „Fünfte-Generation-Netzwerk”) bildet dabei keine Ausnahme. Irgendwann muss man jedoch die wissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse akzeptieren.

Wenn Sie nach „5G” und „Gesundheit” suchen, finden Sie mehrere Artikel, die Ihnen keine genauen Antworten auf die gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen des Netzwerks geben, aber verschiedene fatalistische Szenarien ausmalen. Hier sind einige Beispiele:

Dubiose Webseiten wie „QI-Technologies”, die ihren Namen nach eigener Angaben aus der „chinesischen Medizin” beziehen, veröffentlichen noch dubiosere Artikel zum Thema 5G. Hier heißt es: „Wenn Ihr Kind hier und jetzt von einer ‚Suppe‘ hochfrequenter elektromagnetischer Strahlung bombardiert wird, könnten sich die Langzeitschäden dieser Strahlenbelastung erst in etwa 20 bis 30 Jahren äußern – wenn es bereits zu spät ist, gegenzusteuern.”

„Die bestehenden Grenzwerte machen Gesundheitsschäden unmöglich.“

Was sollte man also über 5G-Strahlung wissen? Die Art der Strahlung, die bei der drahtlosen Kommunikation verwendet wird, liegt im Funkwellenbereich. Diese Wellen tragen viel weniger Energie als ionisierende Strahlung, als Röntgenstrahlen und kosmische Strahlung, die chemische Bindungen in der DNA aufbrechen und zu Krebs führen können.

In den Vereinigten Staaten regelt die Federal Communications Commission (FCC) die elektromagnetischen Wellenfrequenzen, die als Nichtionisierende Strahlung bekannt sind. Darunter fallen Radio- und Mikrowellen, die im regulierten Bereich für den Menschen ungefährlich sind.

Der einzige bekannte biologische Effekt, der durch Funkfrequenzen entsteht, ist Erwärmung: Ihre Körpertemperatur kann steigen. Die bestehenden Grenzwerte der FCC sind jedoch so bemessen, dass das Risiko einer Überhitzung vermieden werden kann, und dass im Bereich unter dieser – nach den geltenden Vorschriften nicht möglichen – Erwärmung keine biologischen Folgen drohen. Einfach ausgedrückt: Die bestehenden Grenzwerte machen Gesundheitsschäden unmöglich.

Gegner der 5G-Technologie argumentieren, dass die hohen Frequenzen der Technologie neue Telefone und Mobilfunktürme zu einer außerordentlichen Gefahr werden lassen. Die Wahrheit ist genau das Gegenteil, wie Wissenschaftler erklären. Je höher die Radiofrequenz, desto weniger dringt sie in die menschliche Haut ein und reduziert die Belastung der inneren Organe des Körpers, einschließlich des Gehirns.

„5G zu verhindern wäre für den Fortschritt verheerend.“

5G zu verhindern wäre für den Fortschritt verheerend. Das Netzwerk bietet größeres Datenvolumen, geringe Latenzzeit, schnellere Datenübertragung, mehr Energieeffizienz (leert Handybatterien nicht so schnell), und bessere Verbindungen auch dort, wo normalerweise kein Netz verfügbar ist.

Was nützen also die Mythen gegen 5G? Auf der einen Seite haben wir die allgemeine und regelmäßige Skepsis von fortschrittsfeindlichen Umweltschützern und unternehmensfeindlichen Verschwörungstheoretikern. Die Einwände solcher Menschen können grundsätzlich nicht durch wissenschaftliche Beweise widerlegt werden.

Auf der anderen Seite sehen wir Skepsis in der Bevölkerung, die von verschiedenen Medien, darunter Russia Today, organisiert wird. Für die Vereinigten Staaten berichtet die New York Times, dass RT America soziale Netzwerke mit Anti-5G-Meldungen überflutet. Die Idee sei angeblich, den Fortschritt in den USA aufzuhalten – zugunsten Russlands. Ein einfacher Zusammenhang besteht darin, dass Fehlinformationen oft konkurrierenden  Unternehmen zum Vorteil gereichen.

„Falschmeldungen über 5G helfen Autobauern, die auf WLAN setzen, und Staaten, die die USA und Europa technologisch überholen wollen.“

Das haben wir in der Diskussion über die Automobilanbindung deutlich gesehen. Dabei geht es um die Kommunikation von Fahrzeugen untereinander und mit der Infrastruktur. 5G gegen WLAN: Die Hersteller führten den Lobbykampf in Brüssel, um die Europäische Union zu überzeugen, die eine oder die andere der beiden Technologien zu unterstützen, anstatt einfach neutral zu bleiben. BMW und die Deutsche Telekom hatten intensiv für 5G geworben, es setzten sich am Ende allerdings Unternehmen wie Volkswagen und Renault durch. Im Juli veröffentlichte die deutsche Bundesregierung dann ihre Stellungnahme. Sie bereitet sich darauf vor, den Einsatz der Wi-Fi-Technologie für den Anschluss vernetzter Autos zu unterstützen, da die 5G-Technologie noch nicht ausgereift genug sei, um Ergebnisse zu liefern. In einem von der Bundesregierung produziertem Dokument, das Politico vorliegt, heißt es: „Die Industrie muss sich auf Technologien konzentrieren, die kurzreichende, Wi-Fi-basierte Signale nutzen“. Einige Automobilhersteller schlugen sich daraufhin auf die Seite der Bundesregierung, während andere der Ansicht waren, dass Berlin stattdessen die 5G-Technologie unterstützen sollte.

Für WLAN sind Infrastruktur-Investitionen beim Straßenbau allerdings ebenfalls notwendig, während 5G-Technologie vom Roll-out des gesamten Netzes profitieren kann und keine weiteren Kosten produzieren würde. Ob nun 5G oder WLAN bei Autos (oder anderen verbundenen Produkten) in der Effizienz besondere Unterschiede aufweisen, sollten die Verbraucher beurteilen, nicht der Staat.

Der Kampf zwischen Lobbyisten wird in Brüssel, Berlin, Paris usw. geführt und nutzt traditionelle Kommunikationsmedien: Unternehmen und Staaten scheinen sich in den Kampf  Neu gegen Alt einzumischen, anstelle Verbraucher als faire Richter entscheiden zu lassen. Falschmeldungen über 5G helfen Autobauern, die auf WLAN setzen, und Staaten, die die USA und Europa technologisch überholen wollen. Deshalb ist es notwendig, eine überprüfbare Faktenbasis zu schaffen, um auf gleichem Wissensstand zu diskutieren. Bei 5G wird diese Debatte entscheidend für die technologische Zukunft Europas sein.


Article originally posted here.

Is the Cookie Law outdated and frankly just annoying?

Cookies are a basic part of how the Internet works but there’s hardly anyone I know that is in favour of pop ups on just about every website due to the EU’s Cookie Law. They store little bits of information about you such as when you are logged into a site, what you add to your shopping basket and all the useful things that personalise websites to you. Cookies are also used to track what you do on the Internet and can be used to link your activities across sites, for instance if your browse a flight for your next trip abroad, you might then see adverts for flights to the same destination on social media sites.

The EU hates Cookies with a passion as they’re big on protecting your personal information and that’s why a Cookie Law came into effect. It spawned horrible pop-ups on websites across the web which you have to click to accept or decline to whenever you visit a new site. The law was relaxed a little for implied consent but GDPR strengthened it and it’s back with a vengeance.

One of the reasons I detest the Cookie Law is because an increasing number of US sites refuse to bow down to the EU. Rather than installing Cookie Policy pop ups to infuriate 350 million US consumers, they’ve taken the attitude that it’s easier just to geo-block EU consumers and block them from even seeing their websites. That’s annoying.

Now, the Court of Justice of the European Union has decreed that “Storing cookies requires internet users’ active consent. A pre-ticked checkbox is therefore insufficient”. In a judgement that comes from German Court asking for an EU ruling (a country where it’s considered normal behaviour for a retailer to sue another claiming an unfair advantage if they don’t comply with every banal regulation going), the Court decided that the “consent which a website user must give to the storage of and access to cookies on his or her equipment is not validly constituted by way of a pre-checked checkbox which that user must deselect to refuse his or her consent”.

The Court went on to say that you have to tell the user how long the cookies will last for and and whether or not third parties may also have access to the cookies your site places on their computer. This is clearly information overload and best advice is firstly to not use Cookies where they are not needed but more importantly surely it’s time for the Cookie Law to change to acknowledge that Cookies are pretty essential to the Internet and that by using the Internet acceptance of Cookies can be implied to be accepted?

“The court has clearly established that current EU rules are outdated. Bombarding internet users with cookies isn’t user-friendly, informative, or productive.
 
When retrieving the information from your device, the website knows what particularly caught your eye, and they can improve their website structure or marketing based on this data. However, cookies can also be useful to the user, in that it stores your password, and keeps you logged into your favourite social media platform or airline account.
 
A well-reflected reform would put all cookie use under implicit consent, with the knowledge that users can use often free and already existing software that allows them to opt-out of all cookie use that they deem unsuited for them. This allows consumers to take their data use into their own hands, without an unnecessary and ineffective pop-up on every website.”

– Bill Wirtz, Senior Policy Analyst , Consumer Choice Center

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

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.

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