industryterm:consumer products

  • Behind China’s Corruption Crackdown: Whistleblowers
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/riskmap/2015/02/12/behind-chinas-corruption-crackdown-whistleblowers/#5e02f2532e89

    By Kent D. Kedl

    SHANGHAI – A top concern for most multinational companies doing business in China the last year has been the Chinese government’s dogged crackdown against corruption. Ask CEOs in China what wakes them at 2 a.m. in a cold sweat and their answer is simple: the dreaded “dawn raid.” What is less widely known is the outsized role that whistleblowers have played. Almost every major fraud or corruption crisis faced by multinational companies in the past year kicked off because of a whistleblower allegation. According to Chinese officials, four out of every five anti-corruption investigations are initiated by whistleblowers. Often these are former and disgruntled employees, suppliers, distributors, consumers, scammers and competitors—some complaints are legitimate, others not.

    Whistleblower complaints in China have historically been an internal matter; any reports were logged with senior management and subject to internal investigations. But there has been a significant trend toward reporting—or threatening to report—directly to Chinese regulators. Whistleblowers are discovering the power of involving regulatory authorities in China to help them achieve their objectives, which range from reporting and rectifying a genuine integrity and governance issue, to extortive attempts to extract monetary or other concessions from management, or simply to take revenge following disputes. In the new, turbo-charged China environment for regulatory oversight, such whistleblowers represent a significant source of risk for multinational corporations.

    Several market dynamics have converged to create this perfect storm of opportunity for whistleblowers in China. They include an uptick in regulatory enforcement, a slowing economy and new pressures on investigators.

    Regulatory oversight and enforcement began to increase in 2013 and shows no sign of down. Regulators that were quite passive in the past will maintain their more active and aggressive stance, and multinationals are on their collective radars. China’s political leadership has provided a mandate for regulator activity and we will continue to see high levels of enforcement, particularly in the key sectors of healthcare, automotive and consumer products, with likely increasing enforcement in energy, telecoms, infrastructure and real estate.

    The slowdown in the Chinese economy means two things. First, companies are not hiring aggressively and employees find it harder to seek alternative employment. Second, companies are restructuring commercial agreements with distributors and suppliers who are feeling the squeeze on their own business. The combined effect is that both employees and third parties have additional incentive to leverage information of potentially unethical or illegal activity. Threatening to blow the whistle to regulatory authorities is an often-successful way for them to retain their positions, even if they are themselves complicit in the activity they are threatening to report.
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    Meanwhile, Chinese regulators are under pressure to deliver results. Pressure to resolve a case with a finding against a foreign company may come from the whistleblower, the media or their own peers; regardless of the legitimacy or accuracy of the claims being made. Within agencies, investigators have additional pressure and targets from their bosses. They will often confront the company with allegations taken verbatim from a whistleblower letter, typically without performing much (if any) due diligence on an allegation’s veracity.

    It often unfolds like this. A company is approached by a mid-level regulator with vague allegations of “impropriety.” The company might be told that “we have information that one of your distributors is taking bribes” and will be asked to investigate itself and report back to the authorities on the findings. The company will not be shown any specific evidence nor will it be given any legal basis for the regulator’s suspicion – but will often be threatened with legal or administrative action if it doesn’t cooperate (fines, loss of license, employee detentions, etc.). In many cases, regulators return the results of a company’s own investigation with additional “guidance” on other areas to examine, until the company presents the desired investigative findings and evidence: this is often what is meant by “cooperating with the authorities.”

    So what can companies do to limit their own risk of a regulatory investigation? It starts with thinking through the processes they use to accept and process whistleblower allegations. Getting ahead of any allegations and proactively correcting any perceived wrongdoing can help to stave off a visit from the regulators. Best practice in China includes four items:

    Understanding the regulators: Nearly every company’s stakeholder map in China has changed drastically in the past two years, so it is critical to take a fresh look at the broad spectrum of regulators against a given business and identify which regulators would be legitimately interested in what parts of the business. For example, a company that relies heavily on third-party distributors to sell to customers will be vulnerable to allegations of bribery and corruption, which would be investigated by local Administration of Industry and Commerce (AIC) offices to investigate. Companies with a fragmented business structure and many sales offices in China may get called out on not paying the proper amount in local taxes, resulting in a State Administration of Tax (SAT) visit. For each type of allegation, a company can identify which regulator might be interested and how active they are in each province where the company operates. From there, a company can begin to understand what the regulators look for and how they operate, and get ahead of any allegations of wrongdoing.
    Create a feedback loop to in-country management: Whistleblower allegations should be handled by a neutral party, not by the operation against whom the allegations are leveled. However, this does not mean a multinational company should keep its China management team in the dark about allegations of wrongdoing in China. In-country managers need basic information in order to monitor the risk of whistleblowers reporting to local regulators. Too often, an office in China will be dealing with a regulator but have no idea that an allegation along similar lines was made to their head office whistleblower hotline a few weeks earlier. Tracking allegations over geography and time is also essential. Companies who log and track the details of whistleblower complaints often see patterns that can be dealt with; ahead of any regulator getting involved.
    Investigate outside the four walls: All whistleblower allegations should be thoroughly investigated; a simple “audit” will not suffice. Looking outside of their own books and records allows companies to trace allegations back to activities of third-parties and other outsiders. Any confirmatory evidence of conflicts of interest or collusion will not be found within a company’s four walls.
    Don’t give in to extortion: Companies that receive an extortive threat to report information to a regulator must resist the temptation to immediately concede to any demands. It may seem like an effective short term solution, but there is a very high risk that it comes back to cause bigger problems in future. It is critical that multinational companies cooperate with Chinese regulators and one’s “attitude” will be important to reaching a conclusion; however, there are many ways to be “cooperative” and companies should consider all scenarios before responding.

    Kent Kedl is the Shanghai-based Managing Director for Greater China and North Asia at Control Risks, the global risk consultancy.

    #Chine #politique #corruption #tireurs_d_alarme

  • Inverse Variable Rewards
    https://hackernoon.com/inverse-variable-rewards-1e6a101790bf?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    We can fight smartphone #addiction using the same patterns that designers leveraged to make products addictive in the first place. In this article I’ll describe one approach, which I call Inverse Variable Rewards.Variable rewards are the foundation for a significant number of ‘addictive’ consumer products, used by designers in an effort to ensnare user #attention. They seek this attention not necessarily because they think it is in the user’s best interest, but so that they can then monetize it via advertisements, which in turn enables the product to survive and thrive.Background: What are Variable Rewards?To understand variable rewards imagine a slot machine. You put in a coin. You pull the lever. Do the three shapes all match? Nope? OK, pull again. How about this time?Sometimes pulling the (...)

    #design #inverse-variable-rewards #responsibility

  • Photo Algorithms ID White Men Fine—Black Women, Not So Much
    https://www.wired.com/story/photo-algorithms-id-white-men-fineblack-women-not-so-much

    Facial recognition is becoming more pervasive in consumer products and law enforcement, backed by increasingly powerful machine-learning technology. But a test of commercial facial-analysis services from IBM and Microsoft raises concerns that the systems scrutinizing our features are significantly less accurate for people with black skin. Researchers tested features of Microsoft and IBM’s face-analysis services that are supposed to identify the gender of people in photos. The companies’ (...)

    #IBM #algorithme #CCTV #biométrie #discrimination #facial #Microsoft

  • Researchers have found a ‘striking’ new side effect from eating fast food - The Washington Post
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/15/researchers-have-found-an-alarming-new-side-effect-from-eating-fast-

    Researchers at George Washington University have linked fast-food consumption to the presence of potentially harmful chemicals, a connection they argue could have “great public health significance.” Specifically, the team found that people who eat fast food tend to have significantly higher levels of certain phthalates, which are commonly used in consumer products such as soap and makeup to make them less brittle but have been linked to a number of adverse health outcomes, including higher rates of infertility, especially among males.

    Recent #Fast_Food Consumption and #Bisphenol A and
    Phthalates Exposures among the U.S. Population in
    NHANES, 2003–2010
    http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/advpub/2016/4/ehp.1510803.acco.pdf

    Background: Phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) are widely used industrial chemicals that may adversely impact human health. Human exposure is ubiquitous and can occur through diet, including consumption of processed or packaged food

    [...]

    Conclusion: Fast food may be a source of exposure to DEHP and DiNP. These results, if confirmed, could inform individual and regulatory exposure reduction strategies.

    #phtalates #santé

  • Are the Chemical Industry’s Interests Taking Precedence Over People’s Lives in Europe?
    http://multinationales.org/Are-the-Chemical-Industry-s-Interests-Taking-Precedence-Over-People

    The #european_union has still not regulated usage of endocrine disruptors, chemical substances with colossal health impacts utilized in many common consumer products. Yet endocrine disruptors are the source of many disorders: birth defects, cancers and obesity. This regulatory delay, which has just been condemned by the European justice system, owes nothing to accident. The chemical industries - manufacturers of pesticides and plastics - are #Lobbying intensively and hamper any serious (...)

    #Investigations

    / #Chemicals, Lobbying, #Environmental_Health, #regulations_and_norms, #new_technologies, european union, (...)

    #influence
    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34711-in-europe-are-the-chemical-industry-s-interests-taking-precedence-o
    http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/consensus/wingspread1.htm
    http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/endocrine/en
    http://press.endocrine.org/doi/full/10.1210/er.2009-0002
    http://www.figo.org/sites/default/files/uploads/News/Final%20PDF_8462.pdf
    http://www.cefic.org
    http://www.ecpa.eu
    https://www.cosmeticseurope.eu
    http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/endocrine/pdf/sota_edc_final_report.pdf
    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/aug/03/ttip-what-why-angry-transatlantic-trade-investment-partnership-guide

  • Un #adware installé par #lenovo expose ses PC à des attaques
    http://www.numerama.com/magazine/32270-un-adware-installe-par-lenovo-expose-ses-pc-a-des-attaques.html

    Depuis le début de l’année, les ordinateurs portables de Lenovo sont fournis avec un adware qui affiche de la publicité contextuelle. Pire, l’outil expose tous les possesseurs à une attaque de type « man-in-the-middle ». En commentaire les manips nécessaires pour supprimer les logiciels incriminés et le certificat auto-signé associé.

    #désinstallation #howto #sécurité #abus

  • Tiny plastic timebomb - the pollutants in our cosmetics
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/exclusive-tiny-plastic-timebomb--the-pollutants-in-our-cosmetics-9391

    Millions of people are unwittingly pouring hundreds of tons of tiny plastic beads down the drain. These can persist in the environment for more than 100 years, and have been found to contaminate a wide variety of freshwater and marine wildlife, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

    Few consumers realise that many cosmetic products, such as facial scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels, now contain many thousands of microplastic beads which have been deliberately added by the manufacturers of more than 100 consumer products over the past two decades.

    #environnement #pollution

  • A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse | David Graeber | The Baffler
    http://www.thebaffler.com/past/practical_utopians_guide

    What is a revolution? We used to think we knew. Revolutions were seizures of power by popular forces aiming to transform the very nature of the political, social, and economic system in the country in which the revolution took place, usually according to some visionary dream of a just society. Nowadays, we live in an age when, if rebel armies do come sweeping into a city, or mass uprisings overthrow a dictator, it’s unlikely to have any such implications; when profound social transformation does occur—as with, say, the rise of feminism—it’s likely to take an entirely different form. It’s not that revolutionary dreams aren’t out there. But contemporary revolutionaries rarely think they can bring them into being by some modern-day equivalent of storming the Bastille.

    P.S. Merci http://seenthis.net/messages/184058

    • If, on the other hand, we stop taking world leaders at their word and instead think of neoliberalism as a political project, it suddenly looks spectacularly effective. The politicians, CEOs, trade bureaucrats, and so forth who regularly meet at summits like Davos or the G20 may have done a miserable job in creating a world capitalist economy that meets the needs of a majority of the world’s inhabitants (let alone produces hope, happiness, security, or meaning), but they have succeeded magnificently in convincing the world that capitalism—and not just capitalism, but exactly the financialized, semifeudal capitalism we happen to have right now—is the only viable economic system. If you think about it, this is a remarkable accomplishment.

      How did they pull it off? The preemptive attitude toward social movements is clearly a part of it; under no conditions can alternatives, or anyone proposing alternatives, be seen to experience success. This helps explain the almost unimaginable investment in “security systems” of one sort or another: the fact that the United States, which lacks any major rival, spends more on its military and intelligence than it did during the Cold War, along with the almost dazzling accumulation of private security agencies, intelligence agencies, militarized police, guards, and mercenaries. Then there are the propaganda organs, including a massive media industry that did not even exist before the sixties, celebrating police. Mostly these systems do not so much attack dissidents directly as contribute to a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, life insecurity, and simple despair that makes any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy. Yet these security systems are also extremely expensive. Some economists estimate that a quarter of the American population is now engaged in “guard labor” of one sort or another—defending property, supervising work, or otherwise keeping their fellow Americans in line. Economically, most of this disciplinary apparatus is pure deadweight.
      In fact, most of the economic innovations of the last thirty years make more sense politically than economically. Eliminating guaranteed life employment for precarious contracts doesn’t really create a more effective workforce, but it is extraordinarily effective in destroying unions and otherwise depoliticizing labor. The same can be said of endlessly increasing working hours. No one has much time for political activity if they’re working sixty-hour weeks.

      #brown_tech #néolibéralisme #oligarchie #surveillance
      #histoire #longue_durée

    • it’s only when we reject the idea that such labor is virtuous in itself that we can start to ask what is virtuous about labor. To which the answer is obvious. Labor is virtuous if it helps others. A renegotiated definition of productivity should make it easier to reimagine the very nature of what work is, since, among other things, it will mean that technological development will be redirected less toward creating ever more consumer products and ever more disciplined labor, and more toward eliminating those forms of labor entirely.
      At the moment, probably the most pressing need is simply to slow down the engines of productivity. This might seem a strange thing to say—our knee-jerk reaction to every crisis is to assume the solution is for everyone to work even more, though of course, this kind of reaction is really precisely the problem—but if you consider the overall state of the world, the conclusion becomes obvious. We seem to be facing two insoluble problems. On the one hand, we have witnessed an endless series of global debt crises, which have grown only more and more severe since the seventies, to the point where the overall burden of debt—sovereign, municipal, corporate, personal—is obviously unsustainable. On the other, we have an ecological crisis, a galloping process of climate change that is threatening to throw the entire planet into drought, floods, chaos, starvation, and war. The two might seem unrelated. But ultimately they are the same. What is debt, after all, but the promise of future productivity? Saying that global debt levels keep rising is simply another way of saying that, as a collectivity, human beings are promising each other to produce an even greater volume of goods and services in the future than they are creating now. But even current levels are clearly unsustainable. They are precisely what’s destroying the planet, at an ever-increasing pace.
      Even those running the system are reluctantly beginning to conclude that some kind of mass debt cancellation—some kind of jubilee—is inevitable.

      #dette #productivité #critique_techno #crise #climat

    • Occupy was surely right not to make demands, but if I were to have to formulate one, that would be it. After all, this would be an attack on the dominant ideology at its very strongest points. The morality of debt and the morality of work are the most powerful ideological weapons in the hands of those running the current system. That’s why they cling to them even as they are effectively destroying everything else. It’s also why debt cancellation would make the perfect revolutionary demand.