Submission to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Kids Online Health and Safety

Submission to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Kids Online Health and Safety

We hereby submit these comments to better inform and educate the Task Force on Kids Online Health & Safety on the pressing issues of keeping kids safe online while remaining steadfast to the open, innovative nature of digital technologies such as the Internet.

  1. The Role of Technological Solutions

As a consumer advocacy group that champions tech innovation and consumer choice, we believe wholeheartedly that, where necessary, technological solutions should be a principal alternative to restrictive regulation that will impose direct and indirect costs and create barriers to online information and connection.

With many social situations or platforms, we know that there exists much concern about young people, teens especially, and their behavior online. There has been a constant barrage of academic research, political proposals, and messaging campaigns that center on restricting parts of online life to young people for their safety.

While there is a definitive trend as to the framing of social media use as negative for young people, the existing research is much more nuanced and likely more balanced when we consider the benefits.

A 2022 study in Current Psychology found that in classifying users into 3 categories: active, passive, and average use of social media, each documented benefits that outweigh potential harms, even more so for the larger category of “average” users.

For every media outrage story about questionable online content or behavior, there are dozens more unreported of improved social well-being, more social connection, and genuine happiness, especially among young people. This is especially true because, for the most part, teens and young people have gravitated from purely physical social lives to a hybrid social life online as well, unlocking new opportunities to explore, learn, and expand their knowledge and understanding.

This was also admitted by the American Psychological Association, which this year published its own recommendations for parents of teens to monitor online safety.

The solutions offered by the APA and several partner organizations are important, and likely do have merit and efficacy with young people online. Contrasting with many proposals existing in legislation, these recommendations are to be overseen and executed by parents and communities, and would negate the need for punitive measures issued by governments. 

We believe this is an important factor for any remedy affecting online safety for teens and young adults. Voluntary measures, whether that be parental screening, communication, or oversight, when used in conjunction with technological tools, will have a more balanced and effective result than any government-imposed restriction.

Parental screening of application downloads, online profiles, and general education about behavior and content online has thus far proven to be the most measured approach to kid safety online, and it should continue to be.

  1. The Wrong Path of State Intervention

Proposals that lead to agency or government intervention into these efforts, we believe, would do more harm than good.

As we have seen in several state proposals in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, preemptively limiting youth access to online social media use not only elicits legal questions, but also severely restricts the ability for young people to explore the benefits of online platforms and networks.

These proposals have been akin to a labyrinth of weaponized policies that prevent teens from engaging with friends and family online, would burden future social media upstarts, and would lead to worse precedents that put free speech on the Internet at risk, as well as leading to significant hacker exploits.

Proposals such as the now enjoined SB396 in Arkansas make it more difficult for young people to begin to use the Internet and all the benefits it provides, but it also enshrined into law the idea that governments should pick which social media networks young people can or cannot use rather than parents.

We believe this is paternalistic, sets a terrible precedent for online speech and access, and amounts to nothing more than heavy-handed government control of who is allowed online and when.

It elicits the question of whether the final arbiter of whether young people access the Internet at all, and that parents should have diminished say in their kids’ digital lives. We believe that is fundamentally wrong. 

Unfortunately, we see in these legislative attempts few good-willed efforts at remedying online safety concerns, and instead legislative retribution against certain social media companies based on political persuasion.

What’s more, many of these proposed solutions would likely create more substantive harm from digital exploitation of information and data than current voluntary or technological tools available to parents.

These proposals, including federal proposals from the US Senate such as the Kids Online Safety Act, require social media websites to collect sensitive photos, IDs, and documentation of minors, mandating enormous privacy risks that will be a cyberhacker’s dream.

We believe that as a society, we should trust that parents have the ultimate right to decide whether or not their children access certain websites or services, and that those decisions are not overruled by legislative proposals.

  1. The answer is technology

As we have stated, and as the research demonstrates, there are immense benefits to social media that are practiced and explored each and every day for people of any age category.

Whether it be for creative purposes, democratic expression, social connection, commerce and business, or education, there are a myriad of benefits to social media that, when paired with responsible adult supervision and guidance, will continue to be a positive force for society as a whole.

Where necessary, when parents and communities can implement technological solutions that help improve the benefits of social media use – whether it be in voluntary parental filters, download authorization, or educational materials – this will be the best and most effective method for protecting young people online. Keeping the Internet as an open ecosystem for exploration, learning, and connection will bring many more benefits to the next generation than restrictive bans or limits imposed by law. 

We hope your commission will take these points to heart, and will continue to advocate for responsible use of technology and the Internet for young people and their parents.

Link to the PDF

Biden’s AI “Collaboration” With Europe Will Hurt Innovation

Last week, President Joe Biden unveiled an executive order that marks the beginning of a U.S. regulatory path for artificial intelligence. The order is a prelude to forming a U.S. AI Safety Institute, housed within the Department of Commerce—announced by Vice President Kamala Harris in the UK last week. This period of “close collaboration” with the UK and EU is a considerable threat to decades of American leadership in tech.

Rather than embracing traditional hallmarks of American innovation, the Biden administration seems intent on importing some of the worst aspects of Europe’s fear-driven and burdensome regulatory regime. If the current approach continues, AI innovation will be smothered, overly surveilled, and treated as guilty until proven innocent. 

Two distinct worlds are taking shape on each side of the Atlantic regarding the future of artificial intelligence and its benefits.

The first is one with cutting-edge competition between large language model developers, open-source software coders, and investors tooling the best practical applications for AI. This comprises ambitious startups, legacy Big Tech companies, and every major global corporation looking for an edge. As anyone can guess, a high percentage of early movers in this category are based in the United States, with close to 5,000 AI startups and $249 billion in private investment. This space is hopeful, energetic, and forward-looking.

The second world, languishing behind the first, is characterized by bureaucracy, intense approval processes, and permitting. The predominant mindset around AI is threat mitigation and a fixation on worst-case scenarios from which consumers must be saved. 

Europe is that second world, guided by the nervous hand of its Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, a key foe of American tech firms. Breton is the face of two sweeping digital EU lawsthat place additional burdens on tech firms hoping to reach European consumers. 

On AI, Breton’s distinctly European approach is entirely risk and compliance-based. It requires that generative AI products, such as images or videos, are slapped with labels, and specific applications must undergo a rigorous registration process to determine whether the risk is unacceptable, high, limited, or minimal.

This process will prove restrictive to an AI industry that is constantly changing and ensure that tech incumbents will have a compliance advantage. EU regulators are accustomed to dealing with the likes of Meta and Google and have established some precedent for subordinating these high-flying American companies. 

It’s a convoluted system that EU bureaucrats are happy to champion. They adopt burdensome rules before the industries even exist, with the hope of maintaining a certain status quo. As a result, Europe lags far behind the investment and innovation taking place in the United States and even China. 

At present, the United States hosts a significant portion of the AI industry—whether it be Meta and Microsoft’s open-source large language model known as LLAMA, OpenAI’s Chat-GPT and DALL-E products, as well as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. This is not a fluke or bug in the international order of tech innovation. America has a specific ethos around entrepreneurial risk-taking, and its regulatory approach has historically been reactive.

While President Biden could have taken that as a signal that a light touch is needed, he has instead taken the European route of “command and control,” a way that may prove even more expansive.

For instance, Biden’s executive order invokes the Defense Production Act, a wartime law designed to help bolster the American homefront in the face of grave outside threats. Is AI already classified as a threat?

Using the DPA, Biden requires that all companies creating AI models must “notify the federal government when training the model, and must share the results of all red-team safety tests.” Like the European risk system, this means firms will have to constantly update and comply with regulators’ demands to ensure safety.

More than increasing compliance costs, this would effectively lock out many startups who wouldn’t have the resources to report how they’re using models. Larger, more cooperative firms would swoop in to buy them out, which may be the point.

Andrew Ng, a co-founder of Google’s early AI project, recently told the Australian Financial Review that many incumbent AI companies are “creating fear of AI leading to human extinction” to dominate the market by directing regulation to keep out competitors. Biden appears to have bought that line.

Another aspect that threatens existing development is that all firms creating models must report their “ownership and possession.” Considering Meta’s LLAMA, the largest model produced thus far is written as open-source software, it is difficult to see how this could be enacted. This puts the open-source nature of much of the early AI ecosystem in jeopardy.

Is any of this truly necessary? Singapore, which has a nascent but rising AI industry, has opted for a hands-off approach to ensure innovators create value first. In the early days of Silicon Valley, this was the mantra that turned the Bay Area into a global beacon for tech innovation. 

This impetus to regulate is understandable and follows Biden’s ideology. But if Washington takes the Brussels approach, as it seems to be doing now, it will risk innovation, competition, and the hundreds of billions in existing AI investments. And it could be precisely what the incumbent big players want.

Congress should step up and rebuff Biden’s “phone and pen” approach to regulating a growing industry. 

To ensure American leadership on AI, we must embrace what makes America unique to the innovators, explorers, and dreamers of the world: a risk-taking environment grounded in free speech and creativity that has delivered untold wealth and surplus value for consumers. Taking our cues from European superregulators and tech-pessimists is a risk we can’t afford.

Originally published here

Gene-Editing Breakthrough: Revolutionizing Sickle Cell Treatment

In the realm of medical science, groundbreaking innovations are constantly reshaping the landscape of healthcare. One such marvel that has recently come to the forefront is the revolutionary gene-editing technology, CRISPR, poised to transform the lives of those suffering from debilitating genetic disorders. In a significant stride towards a potential cure, independent experts are set to evaluate a pioneering treatment designed to edit the genes of patients afflicted with sickle cell disease.

Sickle cell disease, a genetic disorder affecting approximately 100,000 individuals in the United States, primarily among people of color, has long been a challenge for both patients and medical professionals. The condition leads to deformed red blood cells, causing complications such as extreme fatigue, blood vessel blockages, and excruciating pain, significantly reducing the life expectancy of those affected. Traditional treatments, including stem cell transfusions, offer relief from symptoms but fail to address the underlying cause of the disease.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics have collaborated on a pioneering therapy that harnesses the power of CRISPR technology. This groundbreaking treatment aims to modify the stem cells of individuals suffering from sickle cell disease, potentially offering a cure that was once deemed unattainable. The therapy’s developers believe that the data amassed so far not only showcases its potential as a cure but also paves the way for a new era of gene-editing treatments.

At the heart of this medical marvel lies CRISPR, a gene-editing technique that holds the promise of precision medicine. By modifying the targeted genes responsible for sickle cell disease, CRISPR technology presents hope for patients who have long endured the limitations of existing treatments. The potential of this therapy to alleviate the debilitating symptoms of sickle cell disease, such as painful blood vessel blockages, has been demonstrated in late-stage trials. Remarkably, 29 out of 30 participants who received the treatment did not experience severe, painful blockages necessitating hospitalization for an entire year.

The significance of this innovation extends far beyond the realm of sickle cell disease. It represents a historic moment for CRISPR technology, showcasing its potential to revolutionize the treatment landscape for various genetic disorders. What sets this therapy apart is its ability to address the root cause of the disease, offering transformative possibilities for patients who previously had limited effective treatment options.

Despite the immense potential, the therapy’s approval is not without its challenges. The expert panel evaluating the treatment will scrutinize not only its efficacy but also the technology’s precision. Ensuring that CRISPR technology edits only the targeted genes is paramount, as off-target editing could lead to unintended consequences. To address these concerns, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics are rigorously assessing their data and conducting comprehensive analyses to demonstrate the therapy’s safety and accuracy.

Moreover, the affordability and accessibility of this innovative treatment remain crucial considerations. Insurers face the challenge of providing coverage for a therapy that holds immense promise but comes with a substantial price tag. However, if approved, this treatment could mark a turning point not only for CRISPR technology but also for patients battling severe sickle cell disease. It offers hope, not just for a better quality of life but for a life free from the shackles of this debilitating genetic disorder.

As we eagerly await the FDA’s decision, anticipated by December 8th, the medical community and patients alike hold their breath, hoping for a positive outcome. If approved, this therapy will not only signify a triumph for science but also a victory for those who have long awaited a cure. The journey of medical innovation is often arduous, but the strides made in the realm of gene-editing stand as a testament to human ingenuity, resilience, and the unwavering pursuit of a healthier, disease-free world.

AI can be responsible without government intervention, new research shows

The global race to develop artificial intelligence is the most consequential contest since “the space race” between the United States and the Soviet Union. The development of these tools and this industry will have untold effects on future innovation and our way of life.

The White House will soon unveil its anticipated executive order on AI, which may include a commission to develop an “AI Bill of Rights” or even form a new federal regulatory agency. In this case, the government is playing catch-up with AI innovators and ethicists.

AI in a democratic society does not mean spinning up federal AI agencies staffed by whoever won the most recent election — it means having a wide range of policies and rules made for the people, by the people, and that are responsive to the people.

AI has an almost unlimited potential to change the world. Understandably, this makes many people nervous, but we must resist handing over its future to the government at this early stage. After all, this is the same institution that has not cracked 30% in overall trust to “do the right thing most or all of the time” since 2007. The rules of the road can evolve from the people themselves, from innovators to consumers of AI and its byproducts.

Besides, does anyone really believe a government that is trying to wrap its regulatory mind around the business model and existence of Amazon Prime is prepared to govern artificial intelligence?

For an example of the rigor required to develop rules for AI in a free society, consider the recent researchpublished by Anthropic, an Amazon-backed AI startup known for the Claude generative AI chatbot. Anthropic is developing what’s known as “Constitutional AI” that looks at the question of bias as a matter of transparency. The technology is governed by a published list of moral commitments and ethical considerations.

If a user is puzzled by one of Claude’s outputs or limitations, he or she can look to the AI’s constitution for an explanation. It’s a self-contained experiment in liberalism.

As any American knows, living in a functional constitutional democracy is as clarifying as it is frustrating. You have specific rights and implied rights under American law, and when they’re violated, you can take the matter to court. The rights we have are as frustrating to some as the ones we don’t: the right to keep and bear arms, for example, along with the absence of a clear constitutional right to healthcare.

Anthropic surveyed 1,094 people and broke them up into two response groups based on discernible patterns in their way of thinking about a handful of topics. There were many unifying beliefs about what AI should aim to do.

Most people (90% or more) agree that AI should not say racist or sexist things, AI shouldn’t cause harm to the user or anyone else, and AI should not be threatening or aggressive. There was also broad agreement (60%) that AI should not be programmed as an ordained minister — though with 23% in favor and 15% undecided, that leaves quite the opening in the AI space for someone to develop a fully functional priest chatbot. Just saying.

But even agreement can be deceiving. The yearslong national debate over critical race theorydiversity, equity, and inclusion, and “wokeness” stands as evidence that people don’t really agree on what “racism” means. AI developers such as Anthropic will have to choose or create a definition that encompasses a broad view of “racism” and “sexism.” We also know that the public does not even agree on what constitutes threatening speech.

The single most divisive statement, “the AI shouldn’t be censored at all,” shows how cautious consumers are about AI having any kind of programmed bias or set of prerogatives. With a close to 50/50 split on the question, we’re a long way from when Congress could be trusted to develop guardrails that protect consumer’s speech and access to accurate information — much less so the White House.

Anthropic categorizes the individual responses as the basis for its “public principles” and goes to great lengths to show how public preferences overlap and diverge from its own. The White House and would-be regulators are not showing anywhere near this kind of a commitment to public input.

When you go to the people through elected legislatures, you find out interesting things to inform policy. The public tends to focus on maximized results for AI queries, such as saying a response should be the “most” honest or the “most” balanced. Anthropic tends to value the opposite, asking AI to avoid undesirables by asking for the “least” dishonest response or “least” likely to be interpreted as legal advice.

We all want AI to work for us, not against us. But what America needs to realize is that the natural discomfort with this emerging technology does not necessitate government action. The innovation is unfurling before our very eyes, and there will be natural checks on its evolution from competitors and consumers alike. Rather than rushing to impose a flawed regulatory model at the federal level, we should seek to enforce our existing laws where necessary and allow regulatory competition to follow the innovation rather than attempt to direct it.

Originally published here

The FCC resurrects a net neutrality plan nobody asked for and no one needs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 19, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Federal Communications Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel spoke at the agency’s open meeting about the forthcoming rules to reclassify broadband providers as public utilities under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, commonly known as “net neutrality.”

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

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

“Resurrecting the idea of Title-II regulation of the Internet, after its successful repeal in 2017, is the idea that nobody needs in 2023. Since then, we’ve seen incredible innovation and investment, as more Internet customers begin using mobile hotspots and satellite Internet, getting more Americans online than ever before. No one is asking for this proposal and no one needs it.

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

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

“Bringing these dead regulations back to life to enforce Depression-era rules on the web will be a losing issue for millions of Americans who enjoy greater Internet access and services than ever before.

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

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

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

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

This Sneaky Bipartisan Bankruptcy Reform Will Sting Tech Consumers

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

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

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

Republican Takes on the Bankruptcy Reform

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

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

It’s known as a “Texas Two-Step.”

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

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

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

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

Tech Consumers Will Be Harmed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will Republicans Contract Lawsuit Fever?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in American Spectator (archive link).

Ke arah kebolehcapaian kenderaan elektrik oleh pengguna

Agensi Tenaga Antarabangsa meramalkan menjelang akhir 2023 sebanyak 14 juta kenderaan elektrik akan dijual di pasaran global.

Sementara itu pada suku pertama tahun ini saja, terdapat peningkatan hampir 25 peratus (2.3 juta) kenderaan elektrik yang dijual berbanding tempoh sama tahun lalu.

Salah satu sebab utama permintaan untuk kenderaan elektrik berkembang pesat ialah kerana potensinya untuk mengurangkan pelepasan gas rumah hijau dan menjadi lebih mesra alam.

Selain itu, potensi kos operasi yang lebih rendah berbanding kenderaan enjin pembakaran dalaman juga mendorong peningkatan permintaan, terutamanya kos elektrik yang lebih rendah berbanding petrol atau diesel dan kurangnya kos penyelenggaraan bahagian dalaman kereta.

Malaysia tidak terkecuali daripada gelombang global peralihan kenderaan elektrik. Gelombang ini memaksa Malaysia untuk lebih bersedia dalam menyediakan dasar dan infrastruktur yang mampu menarik minat industri untuk melabur dan membuka peluang pekerjaan serta meluaskan lagi pilihan kepada pengguna.

Oleh sebab itu, kerajaan mewujudkan Jawatankuasa Pemandu EV Kebangsaan (NEVSC) yang melibatkan pelbagai kementerian dengan tujuan menggubal dasar dan menyelesaikan isu berbangkit dalam pelaksanaan ekosistem kenderaan elektrik di Malaysia.

Terbaru kerajaan menyasarkan untuk mencapai 15 peratus kenderaan elektrik di jalan raya pada 2030 dan 38 peratus menjelang 2040.

Angka itu bukanlah sasaran yang sukar untuk dicapai, tetapi dasar dan peraturan kerajaan akan memainkan peranan penting dalam menggalakkan penggunaan kenderaan elektrik di Malaysia bagi jangka masa panjang.

Dalam Belanjawan 2023, kerajaan mengambil pendirian bagi melanjutkan pengecualian duti import dan duti eksais sepenuhnya ke atas kenderaan elektrik import penuh (CBU) sehingga 31 Dis 2025.

Bagi kenderaan elektrik pemasangan tempatan, pengecualian penuh duti import ke atas komponen dan duti eksais serta cukai jualan telah dilanjutkan sehingga 31 Dis 2027.

Namun, dalam kes ini, sepatutnya tiada teknologi khusus yang perlu ditetapkan oleh kerajaan tetapi harus dipilih oleh pengguna. Teknologi neutral mesti digunakan untuk memastikan tiada teknologi atau pihak yang mendapat sebarang kelebihan berbanding pihak lain.

Ini penting untuk menjamin pengguna membuat pilihan secara bebas tanpa dikawal atau dipaksa oleh dasar berat sebelah.

Sementara itu, bagi pengeluar peralatan mengecas kenderaan elektrik mereka akan menikmati insentif 100 peratus pengecualian cukai dari tahun taksiran 2023 hingga 2032, dan 100 peratus elaun cukai pelaburan untuk tempoh lima tahun.

Satu lagi dasar yang baik, cukai jalan untuk kenderaan elektrik adalah percuma sehingga 2025. Kementerian Pengangkutan sedang membangunkan struktur cukai jalan yang kurang daripada kenderaan pembakaran dalaman.

Pengguna juga boleh menikmati pelepasan cukai pendapatan individu sehingga RM2,500 ke atas perbelanjaan berkaitan pengecasan peralatan.

Walaupun dasar kerajaan sekarang agak terbuka, masih terdapat banyak cabaran kepada pengguna untuk memiliki kenderaan elektrik. Ia melibatkan pemilikan yang masih mahal yang membolehkan hanya kumpulan tertentu sahaja memilikinya.

Walaupun teknologi bateri bertambah baik, ia masih mempunyai jarak pemanduan yang terhad berbanding kenderaan pembakaran dalaman.

Begitu juga infrastruktur pengecasan yang terhad dan masa pengecasan yang lebih lama berbanding kenderaan tradisional membuatkan pengguna masih teragak-agak untuk beralih kepada kenderaan elektrik.

Kos bateri yang tinggi, hayat bateri dan kesan alam sekitar daripada pengeluaran dan pelupusan bateri yang melibatkan pelepasan karbon dioksida menjadikan pemilikan besar-besaran mencabar.

Sebagai contoh, dasar Tesla adalah untuk memastikan setiap bateri yang mencapai penghujung hayatnya boleh dikitar semula dan digunakan semula berulang kali.

Perlu ada garis panduan untuk pengurusan bateri litium-ion yang hanya boleh dikendalikan oleh profesional berkelayakan yang memenuhi piawaian infrastruktur tertentu.

Malaysia sedang dalam fasa peralihan ke arah penggunaan kenderaan elektrik yang akan mengambil jangka masa panjang. Peranan kerajaan adalah untuk memastikan dasar yang diperkenal dan dilaksanakan mampu terus menggalakkan industri berinovasi dan bekerjasama agar cabaran tersebut dapat diselesaikan.

Kerajaan juga perlu sedar, dasar melindungi industri automotif tempatan dengan alasan patriotik hanya akan membebankan pengguna apabila terpaksa membayar dua kali ganda semata-mata untuk mendapatkan kenderaan yang lebih berkualiti.

Keterbukaan teknologi adalah prasyarat penjimatan kos untuk sektor pengangkutan yang mampan.

Originally published here

The special exemption of SpaceX operating in Malaysia is inconsistent with technological neutrality

The Consumer Choice Center (CCC) emphasizes the importance of the government supporting and maintaining technological neutrality as the best mechanism to allow companies to operate and invest in Malaysia.

Representative of the Malaysian Consumer Choice Center, Tarmizi Anuwar said: “The government should have to provide a level playing field for every investor who wants to invest in this country without giving privileges to any party. The special exception of SpaceX being granted a Network Facility and Service Provider (NFP/NSP) license for a period of 10 years with full foreign equity ownership is inconsistent. In general, CCC agrees with the policy of full ownership of foreign equity, but it needs to be a policy that can be used by all parties.”

In addition, Tarmizi commented on the exemption conditions from the Minister for the 49 percent threshold policy for foreign equity on NFP and NSP licensees, sending a signal to potential investors that the government’s policy can change according to the investors they like. 

“The government needs to adopt the principle of technological neutrality in investment policies for all parties fairly. In order to ensure that the country becomes a major investment destination at the regional level and has a high global competitiveness, the policies implemented need to be clear, open and consistent, and not practice favoritism.”

“If soon, other satellite providers such as Amazon’s Project Kuiper, HughesNet or Viasat are able to provide more competitive prices and better services, will the government impose the same exemption? An inconsistent policy will send a message that the government is trying to protect certain investors,” he said.

Commenting on Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil’s statement regarding the installation of 10 Starlink kits to Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Kuala Pilah, Perak, Tawau and Sarawak to solve their internet problems, Tarmizi thinks the government needs to re-evaluate the priority and main purpose of installing these satellites.

“The main purpose of installing this communication satellite is to bridge the digital divide in rural areas. While all these universities have a fiber network and 5G. This installation is considered irrational because it is installed in educational facilities that already have access to high-speed internet. In addition, the price of Starlink is also much more expensive than fiber.” 

“Hence, the government needs to re-evaluate populated areas that really need and face internet access issues, due to geographical and infrastructure challenges.” he concluded.

Judge Strikes Another Blow Against Biden’s Activist FTC With Ruling in Microsoft-Activision Merger

A federal judge in California struck another blow against President Biden’s activist Federal Trade Commission chief, Lina Khan, by denying a government request to block Microsoft’s pending acquisition of gaming giant Activision Blizzard.

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of California’s Northern District said Tuesday the FTC failed to make a compelling case that the $70 billion deal between the two tech giants would harm consumer choice in the video game market. She denied the agency’s request for a preliminary injunction blocking the transaction until it could fight the merger at an internal court.

“The FTC has not raised serious questions regarding whether the proposed merger is likely to substantially lessen competition in the console, library subscription services, or cloud gaming markets,” Judge Corley wrote.

Consumer advocates praised the ruling as yet another rebuke for Ms. Khan, one of the more activist FTC leaders in recent memory. A Biden appointee, Ms. Khan has been crusading against what she has called “exploitative,” “collusive,” and “abusive” tactics in the technology industry, using the FTC’s antitrust oversight as her primary bludgeon. Another judge blocked the FTC’s attempt earlier this year to stop Meta from taking over a virtual reality fitness company, Within Unlimited.

“The FTC set out, it seems, to protect the business interests of Sony’s PlayStation, completely ignoring their duty to regulate in the interest of American consumers,” the media director for the Consumer Choice Center, Stephen Kent, said. “President Biden should be taking note of how poor FTC Chair Lina Khan has been at her job, and how far she’s strayed from the mission of consumer protection.”

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If Brendan Carr is reconfirmed to the FCC, how will consumers fare?

CCC Managing Director, Fred Roder (left), FCC’s Brendan Carr (middle), CCC Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski (right)

On Monday, President Joe Biden re-nominated Brendan Carr to the Federal Communications Commission. For consumer advocates like us at the Consumer Choice Center who work on many issues related to tech innovation and the protection of our rights online, that’s welcome news.

Now, the US Senate must confirm Carr’s nomination. It would be a welcome opportunity to continue efforts and opportunities to both support and defend consumer choice.

Throughout his tenure at the chief telecom regulator, Carr has chiseled out his space as a principled voice and worthy fighter for many consumers issues.

His dedication to the expansion of rural broadband access, smart investment in telecom and Internet infrastructure, and common-sense rules to help facilitate American ingenuity and entrepreneurship stand out as some major achievements.

Whether it was the repeal of Title II classification for Internet Service Providers (net neutrality), the protection of free speech, or his desire to address the influence of the Chinese Communist Party through TikTok and other platforms, Carr has never missed an opportunity to an evidenced-based approach vital to policymaking.

We hope to continue working with Commissioner Carr in his new tenure despite some disagreements on the nuances of specific policies because we believe he is earnest, sincere, and willing to hear arguments and policy cases from all sides of the aisle. There will be many opportunities to ensure policies are in the interest of consumers.

Issues such as online free speech, upholding Section 230, and how best to avoid government interference in content moderation will prove to be pivotal issues in the next term, and it will be of great benefit to a wide spectrum of American consumers to have someone like Brendan Carr at the helm.

If US Senators confirm Carr for another tenure, we look forward to working together for smart policies to benefit consumers around the country.

Here is a clip of our conversation with FCC Commissioner Carr on Consumer Choice Radio:

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