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Americans Can't Afford It.

Americans Can’t Afford It.

Last week, an article was published by Jeremy Malcolm, senior global policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, under the appropriate title, “How Big Pharma’s Shadow Regulation Censors the Internet.” Basically, Jeremy explains that due to drug company money and political influence in the United States, there are activities going on both in plain view and behind the scenes that are meant to curtail and even end access by Americans to lower cost medications being sold on the Internet.

I’ve been writing about this – albeit in less Internet policy, theoretical terms –  for years and testified before and warned Congress in 2013 on this issue. About a month ago, I published an article on Circle ID, a source of news and opinion about Internet policy and governance, describing the actions of drug companies to dominate the Internet. My hope was to reach people just like Jeremy Malcolm at organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). EFF is a non-governmental organization, founded in 1990 to defend civil liberties in the digital world. They champion “user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.” Read about its awesome work and history here

The “shadow regulation” that concerns EFF, generally, happens where large corporations collude in creating “codes, principles, standards or guidelines” through voluntary agreements, which undermine the best interests of Internet Users – meaning consumers. In Jeremy’s analysis, part of the problem is also that government works behind the scenes to force voluntary agreements to happen – sometimes because of the influence of large corporations – such as the pharmaceutical industry.

EFF calls out the main organizations and companies behind big pharma’s shadow regulations: Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and LegitScript. EFF views their efforts as a form of Internet censorship, similar to what we fought against in combatting the Stop Online Piracy Act; and recall that the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies – not to mention most multinational pharmaceutical companies – supported SOPA.

As it applies to online access to medicines, the result of Pharma’s shadow regulations, according to the EFF analysis: “is that the measures put in place by this closed and captured process are too broad, favoring the private interests of big pharma, limiting access to information and access to safe and affordable medicine.”

In personal and professional terms, thank you Jeremy Malcom and Electronic Frontier Foundation for really getting this! The future of the Internet must be protected from undue corporate influence and corruption – and that includes the machinations of big pharma to “regulate” the Internet.

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