ICANN

NETmundial Initiative Lacks Backing, and ICANN Should Not Lead

A fledgling attempt to create a new global Internet governance clearinghouse has run into trouble as leading business and civil organizations said they are not yet prepared to participate in the NETmundial Initiative (NMI) championed by ICANN President Fadi Chehade.

In highlighting that there remain several unanswered questions, the Internet Society (ISOC), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC-BASIS) raised serious concerns about whether NMI, which sought to empanel a council to direct global Internet governance initiatives, was consistent with its core principles of openness and accountability among multiple stakeholders.

READ MORE at CircleID

tax

The Marketplace Fairness Act: Too Close A Call

As you break out your credit cards this holiday season, you might not know how close we came to a law that would have put Internet retailers and their customers at a permanent disadvantage. Luckily, two Congressional leaders protected us from a radical new tax regime for online purchases.

Prior to the November elections, supporters of the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) declared their intent to leverage the unique pressures and chaos of the lame duck session to ram through their increasingly unpopular Internet tax bill.

READ MORE at Forbes

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WSJ – Wednesday Is Tax-the-Internet Day

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has a great article about tax advocates’ last minute push to pass their online sales tax legislation (MFA).  We’ve talked about MFA’s problems before.  The WSJ editorial warns about the taxpayer funded National Conference of State Legislatures’s plot to storm the hill this Wednesday to demand higher tax burdens.

Read the article here.

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Cruz Takes a Brave Stand on Internet Taxes

Sometimes doing the right thing in Washington means calling your allies out when they’re in the wrong. It’s a brave move for any lawmaker, and one we don’t see often enough in the halls of the Capitol.

That’s why its important to acknowledge Senator Ted Cruz’s brave decision to speak out against shadowy backroom dealings between Democrats and Republicans.  This shadow plan would sneak into law Sen. Reid’s new internet tax burden, the Marketplace Fairness Act, before the new Republican Senate arrives in January.

“There are some voices in Washington who want a lame duck precisely so they can engage in corporate welfare and blame it on the Democrats,” Cruz told National Review Online. Read more

Study

FTC’s Chance for a Big Study of Big Data

Detective Friday would ask for “just the facts.” His pursuit of criminals avoided speculation. When it comes to big data, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes the opposite approach – pursuing theoretical over factual.

In her short speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, FTC Commissioner Brill used the words “may,” “shall,” and “might” over a dozen times when talking about theoretical threats from big data’s misuse. Likewise, FTC Chairman Ramirez’s speech used charged words when describing theoretical misuses – words like, “discrimination”, “unethical” and “illegal.”

What was missing from these speeches? Data to backup the hypothetical. Read more

AndroidPhone

Should governments get a master key to your smartphone?

Would you allow government agents to hold a key to your house, your alarm code, and access every letter you’ve written?  Americans are used to controlling access to their private property, but last week the FBI called for a new law forcing device makers to give the FBI a master key that unlocks all of our devices.

To protect the online ecosystem and improve trust in transactions, the online industry has been working to secure sites and create end-to-end encryption.   Google and Apple announced new encryption mechanisms on their devices while enabling only users to unlock their phones.  This safeguard for your devices has the FBI worried they won’t get the access they want.

READ MORE at The Hill Read more

taxes

A Lame Bill for a Lame Duck: Senate Eyes Sneaky Strategy for Internet Taxes

As a general rule, the less you hear about a particular political strategy, the more you should worry about it. So it’s telling that an effort by the Senate to impose a radical new Internet sales tax regime during this year’s lame-duck session is being planned in secluded Capitol hallways, far from public scrutiny.

We wonder what good, if any, will come from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s, D-Nev., intention to attach the ironically-named Marketplace Fairness Act — a bill that requires online retailers and catalogs to collect and remit sales taxes to nearly 10,000 U.S. tax jurisdictions — to the Internet Tax Freedom Act — a bill that would prevent new taxes on Internet access charges.

READ MORE AT ROLL CALL

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Ride-sharing competition has made taxis better

If you’ve ever wondered why your experiences with taxi cabs hasn’t improved much over your lifetime, look no further than former Mayor Rocky Anderson and his perplexing argument to keep ride-sharing competition out of Salt Lake City.

In his Op-ed, Anderson fears that ride-sharing services will drive cabs out of business and leave taxi patrons out in the cold. The argument would be more compelling if it wasn’t completely contradicted by the real-world dynamics of ride sharing.

READ MORE at Salt Lake Tribune

DoubleDownPrivacy

Pulling Back the Shroud of Secrecy on Government Surveillance

We all get that when it comes to government surveillance there has to be secrecy. At the same time there must be some degree of accountability. To achieve this balance we need reasonable transparency – transparency the government is trying to block.

For years online service providers sought reveal more information about government snooping on their users. Providers like Yahoo, Aol, and Google created transparency reports to show the quantity of surveillance requests they were getting. But one component service providers weren’t allowed to share was the number of National Security Letters (NSL) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests they received from the government. Read more

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ICANN in Hollywood: Foreshadowing a Happy Ending?

As we arrived in Hollywood — the land of happy endings — ICANN had just given us cause to hope that the ICANN accountability process might get its own Hollywood ending, despite a fitful start.

As one who’s been critical of ICANN management’s heavy-handed attempts to control the accountability process, it’s only appropriate to give credit where credit is due. In accepting the community’s strenuous — and nearly unanimous — calls for a cross-community working group to lead the process of improving ICANN’s accountability mechanisms, ICANN management says it’s now prepared to follow the community’s lead, rather than dictating and constraining it.

READ MORE AT CIRCLE ID

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