The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

Bother about books

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 9 September 2019, 07:46 Last update: about 12 days ago

I enjoyed the controversy that arose when according to first reports, a quantity of antique books were about to be rubbished. My understanding had been that in this country, books were no longer given much consideration and were being read less and less.

Still recently published statistics about the use of public libraries showed that more books were being borrowed, with children and young people accounting for the increase. Again that indicated how contrary to what one could fear, at a time when most of the reading which is being done wherever you go is on computers and mobiles, books are not so lacking in public attention.

To be honest, while they were very old and not to be destroyed, the books featured in the controversy were not so interesting. I have some six of their sort and am not sorry I haven’t read them yet. Anyway that this controversy did arise is all to the good.  It went in the same direction as what Mark Camilleri and “his” Book Council are doing to stimulate the interest of the public in the value of books.

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Internet privacy

In European courts a case is proceeding about the clandestine access to personal information about clients of online retailers, which allegedly Google allowed for another firm which analyzes commercial data. This then employed the information that was being gathered to distribute its own retail output to maximum effect.

I was hardly surprised to learn about the allegation. In my view, it is not true that serious controls exist to ensure that information about what we do on the internet is kept confidential, while it is being registered and later.

A few weeks ago, I could again confirm this through personal experience. As millions do, I made an internet purchase... let’s say of books... from  a well known establishment: call it D. The books were delivered as scheduled.

A few days later, I got an e-mmail from another wellknown firm, call it A, proposing for sale, the books I had just bought from D, inserted in a longer list of other books, which were all about the same subject as those purchased from D.

Yes, it just is not true that rules about internet usage are being respected. Here too, might is right. 

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Capital controls

At a meeting of the economic and financial committee of the European Parliament, a discussion was held about the measures being deployed in EU member states to contain money laundering by criminals, mafia organizations, smugglers and wealthy people out to avoid paying their tax dues.

Anti money laundering measures are all the time being strengthened but getting more complex. Strengthening is the right approach. During the meeting, a complaint was that they are still not being strengthened and implemented forcefully enough. I agree with this too.

However one still has to point out that the whole problem has become so important ever since Western countries completely removed their controls on capital transfers. Now – and how ironic this is – they are having to introduce other capillary controls to ensure they can police the flows of funds that their open policies released. 

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