"Cyberquacks" investigated: ComCom

New Zealand's Commerce Commission has no exceptional concerns about offers of dubious health remedies over the internet or over the counter, says spokeswoman Jackie Maitland.

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has no exceptional concerns about offers of dubious health remedies over the internet or over the counter, says spokeswoman Jackie Maitland.

It has taken successful action against some of the latter, she says, and has no bias toward investigating such potential frauds on the internet specifically.

A survey of what are sometimes called “cyberquacks” is currently being driven by the International Marketing Supervision Network, whose members -- consisting of the trade practices law enforcement authorities of more than two dozen countries, it claims -- decide among themselves each year what specific industries to address in an annual “internet sweep”.

Some critics claim that New Zealand is rife with dubious health practices over the counter and in the “surgery”, citing fringe medical practices like naturopathies, from which many people claim to derive benefit.

“Why do health frauds only become worthy of investigation when they are online?” one newsgroup member asked earlier this month. But the bias is only apparent and driven from other sources in the latest investigation, Maitland says.

The sweep is being coordinated by the Australia Commerce and Communications Commission, which will assume chairmanship of the network later this year. New Zealand’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs is involved in this sweep, though the Commerce Commission coordinates this country’s contribution “because we are the enforcement authority”, Maitland says.

Results of the sweep are expected later this month.

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