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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

Lyft and Uber threaten to stop operating in CA if forced to make drivers employees

Drivers would get screwed if Lyft and Uber shut down in California.

Lyft’s “good guy” image keeps slipping. 

The ride-hailing app joined its rival Uber in an employee classification fight in California Wednesday. 

During Lyft’s second quarter earnings call, co-founder John Zimmer responded to a California judge’s ruling that orders the two companies to classify drivers as full-time employees. “It will force us to suspend operations in California,” Zimmer threatened, opening up the possibility that all Lyft cars could be taken off the streets as early as next week.

His comments echoed those of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who told MSNBC earlier Wednesday that Uber would shut down in California until November if its independent drivers had to be treated as employees with full benefits.

The preliminary injunction to comply with California’s new AB 5 employee classification law goes into effect Aug. 20, but both companies can appeal the California Superior Court decision. Both have already indicated they will do so. 

But in the unlikely event that the companies have to switch to an employee model, are Lyft and Uber’s threats to bail just scare tactics? A strategy to bend drivers and users to their desired outcome? 

Both companies, along with other apps like DoorDash and Instacart, have backed state Proposition 22 on the November ballot. That measure would exempt gig-based apps from AB 5’s employee requirements and keep workers as independent contractors. Uber’s Khosrowshahi wrote an op-ed in the New York Times this week about a “third way” to hire gig workers with some benefits and keep their flexible schedules.

The driver group Gig Workers Rising called the potential California app suspensions “vile corporate tactics.”

The idea that Uber and Lyft would shut down their apps in such lucrative markets “is ridiculous, and just another empty threat in their attempt to avoid accountability,” a statement from the group representing gig workers and drivers noted.

The group is heading a campaign to block Prop. 22 in the fall.

It appears Uber and Lyft want to offer a drastic preview of what the pro-Prop. 22 consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Center called “serious repercussions” if AB 5 is forced onto Uber and Lyft.

“Changing employment law to make certain business relationships illegal deprives millions of people of the opportunity of using these services, and has serious repercussions for those who rely on these services both as customers and as workers,” the Consumer Choice Center had said in a statement after Monday’s ruling. 

The group’s deputy director, Yaël Ossowski, responded to Wednesday’s threats to shut down the apps in an email after the Lyft call. “It’s unfortunate that millions of Californians will be deprived of more choice if that happens,” he wrote.

Until Californians vote on Prop. 22, Uber and Lyft are standing united to do whatever it takes to keep drivers classified as independent. 

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

Brüssel will Raucher und Dampfer wieder zur Kasse bitten

Titelbild

Die EU-weite Tabakmindeststeuer soll erhöht werden, auch das ‚Dampfen‘ betreffend. Geht gegen Einkaufstourismus, der durch noch höhere Steuern aber höchstens auf den Schwarzmarkt abgedrängt würde.

Im Juni billigte der Europäische Rat einen neuen Konsens über Verbrauchssteuern auf Tabakwaren. Die Mitgliedstaaten schlagen Änderungen vor, die den Tabakpreis erhöhen und auch Nicht-Tabakprodukte wie E-Zigaretten betreffen würden.

Seit 2011 gibt es in der Europäischen Union eine gemeinsame Mindestverbrauchssteuer auf Tabakwaren, wodurch sich die Zigarettenpreise in den europäischen Ländern mit vergleichsweise niedrigen Steuer deutlich erhöht haben. Nachbarländer mit höheren Steuern behaupteten, dass grenzüberschreitende Käufe ihre eigenen Ziele in der Gesundheitspolitik untergraben würden. Beispielsweise kaufen deutsche Pendler Tabak in Luxemburg, da der Preis dort niedriger ist als in ihren heimischen Geschäften.

Jetzt, da die Richtlinie von 2011 nicht die Ergebnisse gebracht hat, die einige Mitgliedstaaten erwartet hatten, oder, was eher anzunehmen ist, Steuereinnahmen nicht in der Höhe, die die Staaten in der aktuellen wirtschaftlichen Situation benötigen, wünschen sie eine Revision. Auch wenn Mitgliedstaaten Tabakpreise selbst erhöhen können, bringt jede Erhöhung auch eine Steigerung der Pendlerkäufe mit sich: Besonders deshalb will man höhere Mindeststandards. Hinzu kommt, dass politische Entscheidungsträger bei Kritik zu den neuen Preisen einfach auf Brüssel verweisen können.

„Illegaler Handel korreliert mit einer erhöhten Steuerbelastung.“


Diese Revision bezieht sich nicht nur auf konventionelle Tabakprodukte wie Zigaretten, Schnupftabak, Shisha oder Zigarren und Zigarillos. Zum ersten Mal fordert der Europäische Rat, dass auch Nicht-Tabakprodukte in die Tabakverbrauchsteuer-Richtlinie aufgenommen werden. E-Zigaretten oder Heat-Not-Burn-Geräte stellen Alternativen für Konsumenten von konventionellen Tabakprodukten dar. Einer offiziellen Untersuchung in Großbritannien zufolge sei der Konsum dieser Produkte 95 Prozent weniger schädlich als das Rauchen von Zigaretten. Der Europäische Rat kommt zu dem Schluss, „dass es daher dringend erforderlich ist, den Rechtsrahmen der EU auszubauen, um derzeitige und künftige Herausforderungen in Bezug auf das Funktionieren des Binnenmarkts zu bewältigen, indem die Begriffsbestimmungen und die steuerliche Behandlung von neuartigen Erzeugnissen (wie Flüssigkeiten für E-Zigaretten und erhitzte Tabakerzeugnisse), einschließlich nikotinhaltiger oder anderer Erzeugnisse, die Tabak ersetzen, harmonisiert werden, damit Rechtsunsicherheit und regulatorische Unterschiede in der EU vermieden werden”. Eine umständliche Formulierung für „mehr Steuern”.

Wie ernst ist es den EU-Mitgliedsstaaten mit der Verbesserung der Gesundheit, wenn sie mit ihrer Präventionspolitik die Steuerlast der Verbraucher erhöhen? Eine Untersuchung aus den Vereinigten Staaten zeigt, dass jede zehnprozentige Erhöhung des Preises von E-Zigaretten-Produkten zu einem elfprozentigen Anstieg der Zigarettenkäufe führt.

E-Zigaretten sind eine Sache, aber wir sollten uns nicht von der Vorstellung täuschen lassen, dass eine höhere Besteuerung von Zigaretten jemandem nützt. In den Schlussfolgerungen des Rates selbst wird anerkannt, dass Europa mit einer Welle des illegalen Tabakhandels konfrontiert ist, und es werden mehr Lösungen zu dessen Bekämpfung gefordert. Illegaler Handel korreliert mit einer erhöhten Steuerbelastung: Indem wir einkommensschwache Haushalte mit Zigaretten besteuern, die dennoch ein legales Produkt bleiben, drängen wir sie auf den Schwarzmarkt, wo kriminelle Elemente von einer solchen Gesundheitspolitik profitieren. In Frankreich zum Beispiel wurde in einem Bericht aus dem Jahr 2015 festgestellt, dass das Land mit einem Marktanteil von 15 Prozent Europas größter Konsument von gefälschten Zigaretten ist.

„Wir müssen Gesetzesänderungen nicht nur auf ihre erklärten Absichten hin analysieren, sondern auch auf ihre voraussichtlichen Ergebnisse.“


Da es keine Qualitätskontrolle gibt, stellen diese illegalen Zigaretten eine viel größere Bedrohung für die Gesundheit der Verbraucher dar. Hinzu kommt, dass die Einnahmen aus dem Verkauf dieser Zigaretten dem Terrorismus zugutekommen können – dem französischen Zentrum für Terrorismusanalyse zufolge finanziert der illegale Tabakverkauf sogar 20 Prozent des internationalen Terrorismus. Organisationen wie Al-Qaida und ISIS finanzieren ihre Aktivitäten auf diese Weise.

Die vom Europäischen Rat vorgeschlagenen Änderungen an der Richtlinie über Tabakverbrauchsteuern sind kontraproduktiv. Sie werden die Wahlmöglichkeiten einschränken und die Gesundheit der Verbraucher negativ beeinflussen. Wir müssen Gesetzesänderungen nicht nur auf ihre erklärten Absichten hin analysieren, sondern auch auf ihre voraussichtlichen Ergebnisse.

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

Harga murah, rokok seludup jadi pilihan

rokok seludup

KUALA LUMPUR 30 Julai – Disebabkan harga yang lebih murah dan mudah diperoleh, pasaran bagi rokok seludup di Malaysia terus laris dalam kalangan perokok di negara ini.

Pengarah Urusan Consumer Choice Center (CCC), Fred Roeder berkata, bilangan rokok haram yang diseludup masuk ke Malaysia adalah luar biasa.

“Pemerhatian kami menunjukkan permintaan bagi rokok seludup adalah tinggi kerana produk haram ini dijual pada harga semurah RM5.00 berbanding produk sah yang dibayar cukai.

“Jika trend ini berterusan, pasaran rokok Malaysia akan sama sekali ditakluki oleh produk haram dan murah hanya beberapa tahun lagi,” jelasnya dalam satu kenyataan hari ini.

Malaysia mempunyai kira-kira lima juta perokok dan sebilangan besarnya adalah mereka yang menghisap rokok seludup.

FRED ROEDER
Fred Roeder

Pasaran rokok haram mencacah 60% berdasarkan jangkaan daripada hasil rampasan yang dijalankan agensi-agensi penguatkuasaan.

Baru-baru ini juga, Jabatan Kastam Diraja Malaysia (JKDM) berjaya mematahkan cubaan menyeludup 456.03 juta batang rokok dari bulan Januari hingga Jun 2020.

Jumlah tersebut menunjukkan peningkatan mendadak berbanding 236.2 juta batang rokok yang dirampas pada tempoh sama tahun lalu.

“Perokok juga mungkin beranggapan produk yang murah dan tidak dibayar cukai adalah bagus untuk poket mereka berikutan kelembapan ekonomi akibat COVID-19,” katanya.

Pengguna juga berdepan dengan beberapa impak negatif seperti produk tiada pematuhan.

Kajian pada 2015 oleh Jabatan Bioteknologi, Universiti Malaya mendapati rokok haram mempunyai kandungan tiga kali ganda tar dan nikotin. 

Produk ini kerap dicemari oleh bahan yang tidak diketahui semasa proses penyeludupan yang mendedahkan pengguna kepada risiko kesihatan yang lebih besar.

rokok seludup

Selain itu, peralihan kepada pasaran rokok seludup juga menjadi pemangkin kepada lonjakan pasaran gelap yang membolehkan pasukan penjenayah meluaskan pilihan produk pasaran gelapnya ke dalam negara.

Ekonomi gelap Malaysia dianggarkan bernilai RM300 bilion termasuk aktiviti pengedaran dadah, produk paslu dan manusia.

Dalam pada itu, aktiviti haram tersebut juga memberi kesan kepada dana awam yang memaksa kerajaan menanggung kerugian tahunan sebanyak RM5 bilion dalam aspek hasil cukai.

Jelas Roeder, pengguna perlu sedar hak dan kuasa mereka setelah mengetahui produk haram tidak memberi manfaat kepada mereka.

“Pengguna Malaysia haruslah menuntut supaya semua pihak berkepentingan seperti penggubal dasar, agensi penguatkuasaan, pengeluar dan peruncit mengambil tindakan tegas dalam membanteras masalah ini secara mutlak.

“Kerajaan juga harus mempertimbangkan untuk melakukan perubahan cukai sebagai langkah mengurangkan permintaan kepada rokok haram di samping mengurangkan beban pihak penguatkuasaan,” katanya lagi.

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

CCC:打击⾛私活动·应调整烟草税收价格

该组织今⽇发⽂告表⽰,由于⾛私烟草的价格远⽐合法烟草产品来得低,加上⾮常容易就可 获取,导致了消费者转向购买⾛私烟草,从⽽助长我国的烟草⿊市发展。

⽂告中指出,⾛私烟草在我国占据了超过60%的市场份额,显⽰我国500万个烟民中有⼤部分 都购买⾛私⾹烟,⽽且执法机构所进⾏的捣破⾏动屡创新纪录,也显⽰了我国⾛私烟的增长 趋势。 ⽂告中说,我国海关⽇前宣布,在今年1⾄6⽉期间已成功起获了4亿5603万⽀⾛私烟,⽐起去 年同期的2亿3620万⽀⾛私烟明显增加。

需求变⾼刺激烟草⿊市


CCC 执⾏总监罗德指出,被偷运进⼊我国的⾛私烟数量⾮常惊⼈,⽽相关产品仅以5令吉的廉 价出售,造成了市场对于⾛私烟的需求变⾼。

“若这样的增长趋势持续下去,相信我国的烟草市场将在短短⼏年内,完全被这些廉价的⾮法 产品所取代。”

他补充,“烟民可能认为购买便宜⾛私⾹烟并⽆⼤碍,但这类⾛私烟贸易的蓬勃发展将造成各 种的负⾯影响。”他指出,⾛私烟贸易将会成为刺激⿊市的催化剂,因为所涉及的规模和⾼⾦额程度,会令犯 罪集团把⿊市产品业务扩展⾄我国。
他表⽰,烟草⿊市也导致了国库损失,令我国政府每年蒙受50亿令吉的未收税务损失,⽽这 笔税务在如今的疫情下,可⽤作振兴经济的⽤途。

“我国的影⼦经济市值达3000亿令吉,其中包括毒品、假冒产品和⼈⼜贩卖,这些都导致了消 费者被剥夺了货真价实、⾼质量和合规的商品,⽽商家则遭受这类⾮法贸易严重打击。”

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

Scrapping COVID Patents: PM Johnson needs to resist populist calls

London, UK –  In a report published today by the House of Commons International Trade Committee, Members of Parliament suggested that the UK enact compulsory licensing for COVID-19 treatments. Under compulsory licensing laws, the government has the power to revoke patent rights from innovators and companies if a discovery they made provides treatment or protection related to a national health emergency. Fred Roeder, Health Economist and Managing Director of the Consumer Choice Center warns that eroding intellectual property will end up harming patients, and will hurt the UK’s chances of accessing a cure or vaccine:

“Compulsory licensing is threatening to move the goalposts on how intellectual property rights are protected. If domestic and foreign companies are prevented from retaining their patent licenses, this could hinder the production and supply of essential goods to the UK further than they already are. A compulsory licensing bill could place even more barriers for pharmaceutical innovators, which could discourage these kinds of companies from investing or listing their drugs in the UK.

There are other solutions to ensure easy access to vaccines and drugs. For example, mutual recognition of FDA and EMA approvals and fast-tracking some types of medicines would do a lot of good. In order to be prepared for the next pandemic, we need to increase, not curb, incentives for innovation. Right now we need to do everything that makes pharmaceutical research more agile – Introducing compulsory licensing on COVID drugs and vaccines is not the right way. Any help it provides in the short term will jeopardize our ability to tackle this health crisis in the long run,” concludes Roeder.

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

Coronavirus Will Blow Up Our Legal System, but a Liability Shield Will Help

As customers slowly trickle back into stores and workers punch back in at reopened businesses, there’s one thought on all our minds: caution.

Protective plastic shields and screens, face masks and gloves are a new reality, and it is a small price to pay for coming out of state-mandated lockdowns.

But months into the all-encompassing coronavirus pandemic, there is another cost many entrepreneurs and administrators fear: future legal bills.

While voluntary precautions will be plentiful in every situation where a customer, student or worker is getting back out in the world, the nature of the virus means it is almost certain that someone, somewhere, will catch the virus. That means huge potential legal ramifications if a person wants to hold an institution or business liable.

There is already a demonstrable lawsuit epidemic. Between March and May of this year, more than 2,400 COVID-related lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts. These cases are likely to blow up our legal system as we know it, elevating accusations of blame and clogging every level of our courts that will keep judges and lawyers busy for some time.

That is why the idea of a liability shield for schools, businesses and organizations has taken up steam.

In a recent letter to congressional leaders, 21 governors, all Republicans, called on both houses of Congress to include liability protections in the next round of coronavirus relief.

“To accelerate reopening our economies as quickly and as safely as possible, we must allow citizens to get back to their livelihoods and make a living for their families without the threat of frivolous lawsuits,” the governors wrote.

While a liability shield will not give cover to institutions that are negligent or reckless, and reasonably so, it would ensure that blatantly frivolous or unfounded lawsuits are not allowed to go forward.

For the average entrepreneur or school administrator, that would help alleviate some of the worries that are keeping many of these instructions closed or severely restricted.

No one wants customers or workers catching the virus in these environments, but creating 100 percent COVID-free zones would be next to impossible, a fact many scientists are ready to acknowledge. That’s why state governors, lawmakers and business leaders want to ensure that our states can open back up, but be cognizant of the risk.

There is still plenty of uncertainty related to the transmission of the virus, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed out, and that is why a liability shield — at least for those who follow health and safety recommendations — makes sense. Businesses and schools that willfully endanger citizens through negligence though, should rightfully be held liable.

This is the idea currently being debated in the nation’s capital, as Senate Republicans have stated they want a liability shield to avoid a lawsuit contagion.

Unfortunately, the idea is likely to be mired in a toxic partisan death spiral. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York decries such a plan as “legal immunity for big corporations” and reporting on the topic has resembled such.

But these protections would most benefit small businesses and schools that follow health recommendations and still find themselves the subject of lawsuits.

It is no secret that many attorneys see a potential payday in the wake of the pandemic. There are already hundreds of law firms pitching “coronavirus lawyers” and many have reassigned entire teams and departments to focus on providing legal advice and counsel for COVID-19 cases.

And much like in consumer fraud cases before the pandemic, a favorite tool of coronavirus tort lawyers will be large class-action lawsuits that seek huge payouts. These are the cases that usually end up lining the pockets of legal firms instead of legitimately harmed plaintiffs, as a recent Jones Day report finds. And that does not even speak to whether or not these cases have merit or not.

In debating the next level of pandemic relief for Americans, including a liability shield would be a great measure of confidence for responsible and cautious businesses and institutions in our country.

Whether it is the local community college or bakery, we must all recognize that assigning blame for virus contraction will be a frequent topic of concern. But those accusations must be founded, and be the result of outright harmful and negligent behavior, not just because students are back in class or customers are once again buying cakes.

A liability shield for the responsible citizens of our country is not only a good idea but necessary.

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

El grupo de consumidores consulta el doble estándar inexplicable de la UE sobre los OGM

El grupo internacional de defensa del consumidor señaló que el Parlamento Europeo ha autorizado recientemente una excepción temporal de las normas sobre ingeniería genética, para permitir que el desarrollo de la vacuna Covid-19 se beneficie de la tecnología de OGM.

Hasta hace unos meses, la UE era tajante en su prohibición sobre el uso de OGM en todo ámbito. 

La posición de la UE sobre los organismos genéticamente modificados (OGM) ha sido criticada por el Consumer Choice Center, que lo ha calificado de “doble estándar inexplicable”.

En una declaración, citada por el grupo de consumidores, el Parlamento Europeo dijo: “La excepción facilitará el desarrollo, la autorización y, en consecuencia, la disponibilidad de vacunas y tratamientos de Covid-19”.

En respuesta a esto, el analista de políticas senior del Centro de Elección del Consumidor Bill Wirtz dijo que estaba “desconcertado por el cambio de opinión” de los miembros del parlamento, y agregó:

Si hubieras sugerido algo así hace seis meses, algunos legisladores se habrían enfurecido.

“Ahora que Europa se enfrenta a la mayor emergencia de salud en nuestra vida, la innovación científica se necesita desesperadamente”.

Continuando con el tema de largo ruido, el analista dijo:

“La desafortunada realidad es que los OGM han sido tan altamente politizados que nos hemos alejado de una conversación sobria basada en evidencia.

Ahora es políticamente viable permitir la innovación científica para combatir este virus, pero en el área de la agricultura, todavía nos enfrentamos a un callejón sin salida. Si es seguro para las vacunas, ¿no deberíamos confiar también en la montaña de evidencia científica de que es seguro en los alimentos?

“Necesitamos repensar la directiva de 2001 sobre los OGM, que ha estado a la vanguardia de la desaceleración de Europa en ingeniería genética”, afirmó Wirtz.

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

Cheap Illegal Cigarettes Are Ruining Malaysia, Here’s How

Ask any smoker and they’d tell you that smoking cigarettes is a disgustingly expensive habit.

Costing between RM12 to more than RM20 a pack, after taxes, the average smoker can easily spend more than RM100, a week just, to scratch that nicotine itch.

Because of this high upkeep, it’s no surprise that most Malaysian smokers are turning to cheap, illegally smuggled cigarettes to fulfill their cravings.

According to an international consumer advocacy group, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), over 60% of Malaysia’s 5 million smokers are regularly consuming illegal cigarettes.

Moreover, it was revealed that Malaysian enforcement authorities had managed to stop more than 450 million cigarette sticks from entering the country between January and June 2020 alone, compared to the over 230 million sticks confiscated over the same period the previous year. Proving that the tobacco black market is flourishing more than ever in the country.

The reason for this is simply because these illegally smuggled cigarettes are way, way cheaper than premium brand buds found over the counter, only costing between RM3 to RM5 depending on where you get them.

Didakwa di mahkamah kerana miliki rokok seludup RM48.16 | Kes | Berita  Harian
A selection of illicit cigarette brands available on the market.
(Berita Harian)

However, these cheap cigarettes do pose more danger to the country than we may have realized.

Healthwise, a 2015 study by University Malaya (UM) revealed that illicit cigarettes have been found to contain three times more tar and nicotine than that permissible by Malaysian law, besides having the tendency to be laced and contaminated by other unknown chemicals and substances, which would probably do untold damage on a smoker and secondhand smoker’s lungs.

Economically, the cigarette black market drains the country out of its tax income. The CCC reports that Malaysia suffers an annual loss of RM5 billion from Malaysian choosing to go for the cheap illegal option.

The existence of such black markets is also detrimental to the country itself, as the income gained from the trafficking and sale of illegal cigarettes inevitably supports criminal gangs and the import of other illicit goods such as drugs, knockoff products, even people.

To address this problem, the CCC suggests a radical reform to the country’s tax on cigarettes.

Given price is a key factor causing consumers to turn to illegal cigarettes, the Government should consider tax and price reforms for tobacco products as a measure to address illegal cigarettes. At the end of the day, reducing the demand for illegal cigarettes by way of tax reforms will also help reduce the sole burden on enforcement in addressing the tobacco black market.

CCC Managing Director Fred Roeder

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

Consumer advocates call for tobacco tax reforms as illicit sales boom

KUALA LUMPUR: Global consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) has warned that the sale and purchase of smuggled cigarettes — which can cost only a third of the price of the legal stuff — will continue to grow barring changes to local tobacco taxes.

In a statement, CCC said black market cigarettes had captured 60% of the market, which caters to an estimated five million smokers in Malaysia.

Fred Roeder, managing director of CCC, called the volume of cigarette smuggling “phenomenal”, adding that their popularity is driven primarily by their low prices.

“Our observation indicates demand for smuggled cigarettes is high because these illegal products are sold as cheap as RM5 (a packet). So, it is no surprise that these cheap smuggled cigarettes have a big demand.

“Smokers may think cheaper and untaxed products are beneficial, especially now when money is tight following the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

CCC claims these illegal cigarettes may often contain up to three times the legal limit of nicotine and tar, which has financial implications on smokers in the long term.

Smuggled cigarettes also cost the government RM5 billion in uncollected tax revenue.

Roeder believes the government should consider tax and price reforms for tobacco products as lower prices for legal cigarettes would reduce demand for contraband.

The illicit cigarette trade is not unique to Malaysia. New Zealand authorities recently nabbed a Malaysian man who attempted to smuggle 2.2 million cigarettes worth NZ$2.72 million (RM7.7 million) into the country.

He faces charges under the Customs & Excise Act.

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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