For years, the Coca-Cola Company has been deceptively marketing its “vitaminwater” beverage brand as a healthy alternative to plain water and sugary soda beverages, making outlandish claims that the drink can help boost immunity and even help people fight eye disease. But now the beverage giant is facing a monstrous class-action lawsuit over this marketing racket, none of which is true about the sugar-laden junk food drink.
The suit, which was originally filed back in 2010 by the nonprofit health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), alleges that Coca-Cola has been engaged in what can only be described as blatant labeling fraud. Vitaminwater’s “Power-C” flavor, for instance, claims to deliver “zinc and vitamin C to power your immune system,” while the “XXX” flavor is branded as containing “antioxidant vitamins to help fight free radicals and help support your body.”
Both claims are an immense exaggeration, as these two vitaminwater products are composed primarily of water, sugar, and a handful of synthetic vitamins, which is hardly a recipe for robust immunity. And yet this is the overall image being portrayed by Coca-Cola for its vitaminwater line of beverages, which is really nothing more than glorified soda pop without carbonation.
“The marketing of vitaminwater will go down in history as one of the boldest and brashest attempts ever to affix a healthy halo to what is essentially a junk food, a non-carbonated soda,” says Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director of CSPI. “Vitaminwater, like Coca-Cola itself, promotes weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cannot deliver on any of the dishonest claims it has made over the years.”
The class action originally sought monetary damages for vitaminwater’s misleading branding, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy in Brooklyn, New York, recently decided that this would not be allowed as part of the case. Since individual damages are likely small, and because there are obvious variations in how much money each individual would be entitled to receive, Judge Levy decided that the plaintiffs simply do not have an adequate damages model that can be used to effectively distribute damages.
Coca-Cola to face jury trial for tricking consumers into thinking vitaminwater can heal disease
At the same time, Judge Levy did announce that the suit itself appears valid, and recommended that Coca-Cola face the accusations in court. The case will now move on to U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry for approval, and is expected to eventually go to trial based on Judge Levy’s recommendations. If everything goes as intended, Coca-Cola will soon have to defend its vitaminwater claims in court before a jury, which CSPI believes will be a major tipping point for Coca-Cola’s branding of vitaminwater.
“(Thursday’s decision) puts this case on a glide path toward a jury trial where Coca-Cola will have to defend under penalty of perjury the deceptive claims it has made and continues to make in connection with vitaminwater,” said CSPI Litigation Director Steve Gardner in a recent statement. “That will put the company in the awkward position of squaring its marketing of vitaminwater as a healthy, disease-fighting drink with its later assertion that ‘no reasonable consumer’ would ever believe such marketing.”
Coca-Cola is not alone in being sued for deceiving the public about the health benefits of its products. As we reported back in 2012, a California woman filed a class action lawsuit against Frito-Lay for labeling its snack chips, which are loaded with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and other poisons, as “all natural.” Frito-Lay even went so far as to claim that the GM oils used in its snack chips may help prevent heart disease.
daily alternative | alternative news – Coca-Cola facing huge class action lawsuit over alleged false claims for Vitaminwater
Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Automatic Spying Cannot Be Stopped
Last week changes to the Windows 10 upgrade path mean it is going to become increasingly difficult for any non-techy users to avoid being pushed to Microsoft MSFT +0.00%’s new operating system. But given Windows 10 is better than Windows 7 and Windows 8, why would that be a problem? Because of policies like this…
Speaking to PC World, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore explained that Windows 10 is constantly tracking how it operates and how you are using it and sending that information back to Microsoft by default. More importantly he also confirmed that, despite offering some options to turn elements of tracking off, core data collection simply cannot be stopped:
“In the cases where we’ve not provided options, we feel that those things have to do with the health of the system,” he said. “In the case of knowing that our system that we’ve created is crashing, or is having serious performance problems, we view that as so helpful to the ecosystem and so not an issue of personal privacy, that today we collect that data so that we make that experience better for everyone.”
This backs up detailed data that some had chosen to dismiss as conspiracy theories.
Windows 10 has great potential, but aggressive update and user tracking policies. Image credit: Microsoft
Still, whether or not you agree with Belfiore’s standpoint that this doesn’t invade user privacy, it does seem strange that it has taken Microsoft so long to come clean and admit core Windows 10 background data collection processes cannot be stopped. Instead it gave the impression that turning off all user accessible spying options in Windows 10 settings would provide owners with full privacy – that’s tantamount to spying.
To his credit, Belfiore does recognise the controversial nature of this decision and stresses that:
“We’re going to continue to listen to what the broad public says about these decisions, and ultimately our goal is to balance the right thing happening for the most people – really, for everyone – with complexity that comes with putting in a whole lot of control.”
Interestingly Belfiore himself won’t be around to oversee this as he is about to take a year long sabbatical. When he comes back, however, I suspect this issue will still be raging as Windows and Devices Group head Terry Myerson recently confirmed Windows 10 Enterprise users will be able to disable every single aspect of Microsoft data collection.
This comes in combination with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users’ ability to permanently disable automatic updates which are forced upon consumers and shows the growing divide between how Microsoft is treating consumers versus corporations.
So how concerned should users be about Windows 10’s default data collection policies? I would say very.
By default Windows 10 Home is allowed to control your bandwidth usage, install any software it wants whenever it wants (without providing detailed information on what these updates do), display ads in the Start Menu (currently it has been limited to app advertisements), send your hardware details and any changes you make to Microsoft and even log your browser history and keystrokes which the Windows End User Licence Agreement (EULA) states you allow Microsoft to use for analysis.
The good news: even if Belfiore states you cannot switch off everything, editing your privacy settings will disable the worst of these. To find them open the Start menu > Settings > Privacy.
daily alternative | alternative news – Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Automatic Spying Cannot Be Stopped
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