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The SIC orders digital platforms to withdraw products that offer supposed benefits against covid-19

2 Junio, 2020

The Superintendence of Industry and Commerce, in its role as the national authority for consumer protection, ordered the e-commerce companies MERCADOLIBRE COLOMBIA LTDA, LINIO COLOMBIA S.A.S. and OLX COLOMBIA S.A.S., to withdraw from their platforms all advertising spots using the words "COVID-19", "CORONAVIRUS" and other similar or equivalent ones.

The Superintendence took the aforementioned decision based on the provisions of number 9 of article 59 of Law 1480 of 2011, and on the issuance by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Colombia, of the document called “ABECE NUEVO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)” that indicates that so far there are no products or medications capable of preventing the spread of the virus or curing those who suffer from it. To date 1,286 advertising spots with these characteristics have been removed:


In addition to the above, OLX COLOMBIA S.A.S. has decided to reject from March 6, 2020, any announcement using words related to "COVID-19", and since March 12 all advertising spots of masks and antibacterial gels, in order to avoid possible hoarding behaviours. 

The advertising spots rejected by this company were the following: 

1,010 advertisements using the words “COVID-19”, “CORONAVIRUS” and other similar or equivalent ones.

10,064 ads of face masks and antibacterial gels. 

The Superintendence of Industry and Commerce calls on all consumers to refrain from buying products offering a cure against the virus or advertising that they contain properties that prevent its spread.

THE SIC PERFORMS ITS MEDICATIONS AND FUELS PRICE CONTROL ROLE IN THE CONTEXT OF THE SANITARY EMERGENCY 

The Superintendence of Industry and Commerce has been a crucial actor in the measures adopted by the National Government, to avoid the speculation of medicines and medical devices necessary to attend to the health emergency generated by COVID-19. 

Regarding these measures, the SIC has intervened before the Ministry of Health, to advance in the procedure to include these products in the direct price control regime, in order to be able to investigate and sanction market agents who sell medicines and medical devices exceeding the maximum price that will be permitted by law. To obtain information, the SIC prepared a sales price report for the year 2019 including prices of Acetaminophen 500 mg, Ibuprofen 400-600 mg, Amoxicillin, Azithromycin and, Naproxen, and it compared it with the report of April 2020, in order to evaluate if significant price increases took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Likewise, the SIC made inspection visits and asked for information to verify the sale price of liquid fuel in gas stations, in order to enforce control over the Diesel fuel that is used by the vast majority of cargo vehicles, responsible for the market supply nationwide. On this issue, the SIC has conducted 65 investigations to gas stations that have allegedly sold fuel above the maximum price. These procedures are being taken with the aim of ensuring that fuel distribution is been traded at fair and adequate price for the benefit of Colombian citizens.

Finally, the Superintendence of Industry and commerce has continued to enforce the legal metrology requirements for liquid fuel dispensers, scales and pre- packages products, with the purpose of verifying that transactions are carried out with reliable measurements, protecting consumers in the mandatory quarantine.

THE SIC PUBLISHES INFOGRAPHICS ON THE COLLECTION AND USE OF DATA IN THE CONTEXT OF A MEDICAL OR HEALTH EMERGENCY

The Deputy Superintendence for the Protection of Personal Data of the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) published an infographic reporting how the collection and use of personal data should be managed during a medical or health emergency.

First, the Deputy Superintendence for the Protection of Personal Data recalled that all data on people's health is sensitive information and its treatment requires greater security measures, and restriction of access and use.

Second, the Deputy Superintendence reported that this information does not require authorization to be collected and used in medical or health emergencies in accordance with Law 1581 of 2012.

Thirdly, the Deputy Superintendence affirmed that measures must be adopted to protect personal data so as to guarantee compliance with the following principles: i) purpose principle: data processing must be done to prevent, treat or control the spread of COVID-19; ii) truthfulness or quality principle: the information must be truthful, complete, exact, updated, verifiable and understandable; iii) principle of restricted access and circulation: data can only be accessed by persons authorized by law and the information should only be used to prevent or treat the coronavirus; security principle: strict security measures must be adopted to prevent adulteration, loss, consultation, use or unauthorized or fraudulent access. 

Moreover, the Deputy Superintendence pointed out that the law prohibits the use of deceptive or fraudulent means to collect and carry out personal data treatment, and that those who commit this conduct may be fined up to 2,000 SMLM equivalent to $1,965,314,000 COP (roughly $ 499.388 US dollars), and even be penalized according to the case as the law 1273 of 2009 indicates. 

Finally, the Deputy Superintendence made the following recommendations during the crisis: i) be cautious against false messages about the coronavirus and refrain from supplying personal data; ii) communicate directly with the entity that claims to send the message and confirm the veracity of the information; iii) verify if the sender of the messages is a public or private entity authorized to collect data in the context of the health emergency.