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consumer choice center

The EU’s AI ACT will stifle innovation and won’t become a global standard

February 5, 2024 – On February 2, the European Union’s ambassadors green lit the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act). Next week, the Internal Market and Civil Liberties committees will decide its fate, while the European Parliament is expected to cast their vote in plenary session either in March or April. 

The European Commission addressed a plethora of criticism on the AI Act’s potential to stifle innovation in the EU by presenting an AI Innovation package for startups and SMEs. It includes EU’s investment in supercomputers, statements on Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programs investing up to €4 billion until 2027, establishment of a new coordination body – AI Office – within the European Commission.

Egle Markeviciute, Head of Digital and Innovation Policies at the Consumer Choice Center, responds:

“Innovation requires not only good science, business and science cooperation, talent, regulatory predictability, access to finance, but one of the most motivating and special elements – room and tolerance for experimentation and risk. The AI Act is likely to stifle the private sector’s ability to innovate by moving their focus to extensive compliance lists and allowing only ‘controlled innovation’ via regulatory sandboxes which allow experimentation in a vacuum for up to 6 months,” said Markeviciute. 

“Controlled innovation produces controlled results – or lack thereof. It seems that instead of leaving regulatory space for innovation, the EU once again focuses on compensating this loss in monetary form. There will never be enough money to compensate for freedom to act and freedom to innovate,” she added.

“The European Union’s AI Act will be considered a success only if it becomes a global standard. So far, it does not seem the world is planning on following in the EU’s footsteps.”

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, adds additional context:

“Despite optimistic belief in the ‘Brussels effect’, the AI Act has not yet resonated with the world. South Korea will focus on the G7 Hiroshima process instead of the AI Act. Singapore, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom have openly expressed concern that imperative AI regulations at this stage can stifle innovation. US President Biden issued an AI Executive Order on the use of AI back in October of 2023, yet the US approach seems to be less restrictive and relies upon federal agency rules,” said Ossowski.

“Even China – a champion of state involvement in both individual and business practices is yet to finalize its AI Law in 2024 and is unlikely to be strict with AI companies compliance due to their ambition in terms of global AI race. In this context, we have to acknowledge that the EU has to adhere to already existing frameworks for AI regulation, not the other way around,” concluded 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.

A Crypto Surveillance Mandate In the Infrastructure Bill Must Be Rejected

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A Crypto Surveillance Mandate In the Infrastructure Bill Must Be Rejected

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONSUMER CHOICE CENTER’S PRINCIPLES FOR SMART CRYPTO REGULATION:

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

The policy primer can be read in full here.

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

Consumer Choice Center Launches 21Democracy Project to Counter Authoritarian Influence

Consumer Choice Center Launches 21Democracy Project to Counter Authoritarian Influence

Washington, D.C. – Today the Consumer Choice Center is announcing a new initiative aimed at countering the influence of authoritarian regimes on consumers around the world.

The goal of 21Democracy is to highlight the risks for consumer choice, privacy, human rights, national security, and intellectual property in the light of rising authoritarianism across the globe.

“The narrative of authoritarian regimes unduly influencing consumers and policies in liberal democracies is ongoing and we must be persistent in opposing it where possible,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the D.C.-based Consumer Choice Center.

“Whether it’s the actions of Putin’s Russia or the Chinese Communist Party, we cannot compromise the underpinnings of our liberal democratic systems in the face of authoritarian regimes.”

Articles on this theme have already been published in Politico EU and La Tribune.

Specifically, the Consumer Choice Center is deeply concerned about the threat the Communist Party of China (CPC) poses to consumers, particularly invasions of their privacy and intellectual rights. 

Too many western politicians and media figures have turned a blind eye to the threat that some Chinese companies, often de facto controlled by the Communist Party, pose to their constituents.

While we acknowledge the importance of global trade as a driver for consumer choice and prosperity, we also see the risk of this principle being hijacked by bad players. (Self-)Censorship in western movie productions and 5G networks being controlled by an authoritarian surveillance state are just two worrisome examples. 

Liberal democracies such as the EU, Canada, and the United States need to find a common approach to protect citizens from the rising influence stemming from authoritarian players such as communist China.

21Democracy aims to serve as a networking, awareness, and activation platform for combatting this threat to freedom. We will speak up when others stay silent, we build bridges between policymakers, business leaders, and government from liberal democracies, and we will lobby for policies that preserve freedom and individual liberties.

To begin these efforts, the Consumer Choice Center joined activists from Students For Liberty in Miami at the Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat game last week to protest the NBA’s silencing of dissent of its athletes and coaches when it comes to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. 

They chanted in solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and spoke with fellow attendees to disapprove of the league’s position on political dissent in Hong Kong.

More information about 21Democracy can be found on the website 21Democracy.com.

CONTACT:
Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
Consumer Choice Center
yael@consumerchoicecenter.org
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The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. 

We represent consumers in over 100 countries across the globe and 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.

FDA’s menthol ban and vaping restrictions will have consequences

CONTACT: Jeff Stier Senior Fellow Consumer Choice Center jstier@consumerchoicecenter.org FDA’s menthol ban and vaping restrictions will have consequences WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced severe sales and flavor restrictions on vaping products and introduced a new ban on menthol flavors in combustible tobacco products. Reacting to the news, Consumer Choice Center […]

Minor changes could have a major positive impact on Ontario’s cannabis plan

On Aug. 13, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fideli announced the government’s plan for cannabis legalization. The keystone of the Progressive Conservatives’ policy is a reversal of the public retail monopoly model proposed by the former Liberal government, to instead opt for private retail provincewide. Although cannabis will be legal in October this year, storefronts won’t be available […]

CCC Comments to FDA on Tobacco Product Standard for Nicotine Level of Combusted Cigarettes

Jeff Stier Senior Fellow Consumer Choice Center New York, NY July 10, 2018 Submission to the Food & Drug Administration Submit your own comments:  https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2017-N-6189-0001   The FDA’s consideration of a product standard to set a maximum nicotine level for cigarettes is a dangerous experiment justified only by good intentions and faulty research. Further, even if […]

Make e-cigarettes available to fight tobacco cancer: Experts

DECCAN HERALD: Jeff Stier, a senior fellow with the pro-e-cigarettes advocacy group Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said, “The ACS took a step in the right direction by recognising this important harm-reduction method.”

World No Tobacco Day 2018, here’s why you should switch to e-cigarettes

HINDUSTAN TIMES:  Jeff Stier, a senior fellow with the pro-e-cigarettes advocacy group Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said, “The ACS took a step in the right direction by recognising this important harm-reduction method.”

How Germany is smoking other countries in e-cigarette regulation

HANDELSBLATT: Regulations-heavy Germany has taken a surprisingly lax stance on e-cigarettes and vaping laws. It’s the right approach, writes a policy analyst.

כך נפחית את המחלות מעישון – בלי להיגמל מניקוטין

CALCALIST: CCC Senior Fellow Jeff Stier comments on Israeli media about the potentials for harm reduction.

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