Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Internet trade: the biggest threat to endangered species

  • Wednesday, 24 March 2010
  • Fouad GM
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  • The European Journalism Centre forwarded an article ran by The Guardian on Sunday in which Doha-based Michael Casey accused the internet of being the biggest threat to endangered species.

    According to Casey, conservationists are accusing the internet of creating opportunities for the illegal wildlife trade. Participants in the 175-nation Convention on Intellectual Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) claim that the internet has made it easier to buy everything from live lion cubs to wine made from tiger bones.

    Delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of banning Kaiser's spotted newt - a victim of internet trade, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). On the other hand, a US-Swedish proposal to regulate of the trade in red corals used in the crafting of jewellery sold primarily online was defeated.

    Internet trade, according to participants, has become the biggest challenge to CITES.

    Internet trade, or e-commerce, has been a controversial topic for years - CITES aside. Internet trade, from eBay to Amazon and other online trade portals have allowed the blurring of boundaries and the opening up of markets worldwide. The debate has often oscillated between two fundamentally contradicting opinions.

    On the one hand, those promoting the growth and development of internet trade do so under the pretext of liberating markets and allowing access to commodities, books and services that are either unavailable, censored or available at otherwise-extortionate prices. Those for the regulation of internet trade on the other hand, argue that internet has reduced and challenged the authorities' ability to enforce law, apply tariffs and taxes and perform its regulatory functions.

    I recall for instance, the European decision and ability to force online retailers, including eBay sellers, to discontinue the sale of drugs sold otherwise on prescription or banned altogether. Sexually stimulating drugs (as well as sexual accessories and toys) were amongst the prime target of this regulatory law as customers found them easily and readily accessible online whereas they had been banned from stores Europe-wide.

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