Doubling Down on Wrong: Massachusetts and LPR Legislation

As the weight of public opinion, legislation and expert analysis swings nationally in the direction of common-sense policy for license plate recognition technology, Massachusetts is digging in its heels, doubling down on an extreme, unconstitutional measure that will hamstring technology and undermine safety in exchange for no tangible benefit.

In the wake of the Snowden revelations, privacy extremists saw a unique opportunity to demonize a popular, widely-used technology that had never before been controversial in mainstream circles. Conjuring images of mass surveillance and tracking, the ACLU successfully prodded several states to introduce legislation to curb the use of license plate recognition (LPR) technology.

White House Technologists Say Focus on Use

But in the past six months, a funny thing has happened. As technologists, law enforcement, and legal experts began to explain what license plate recognition technology actually does (as opposed to what the ACLU baselessly claims it could do in some dystopian future) the national discussion has shifted away from hard-line restrictions on LPR and toward a balanced approach which focuses on access controls (i.e. logging who has accessed the data and for what purpose) and best practices in database security to ensure the protection stored LPR data. Read more


White House Delivers a Mixed Bag with Big Data Report

Like many in the technology space, I was pleasantly surprised last week when the White House delivered a balanced report on Big Data addressing the challenges posed by ubiquitous information sharing with the real value that sharing provides us. It’s just unfortunate that the report didn’t address the greatest public concern post-Snowden — government surveillance.

The report could have analyzed government access to our online accounts but instead chose a less self-critical route by raising bombastic specters of corporate misuse. Read more


Internet Sales Tax Winners and Losers

Last week, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a report that identifies the real winners of a new online sales tax regime. To the surprise of no one, the study found that small businesses struggling on MainStreet should not expect the taxman to be their savior.

Everyone likes and roots for small entrepreneurs. We know the people in our community who run local retail and we respect what they do. Their efforts are felt and admired on a daily basis. That is why the generic idea of supporting Main Street is so powerful.

But, in the case of online taxation, we now have proof that Main Street won’t see a boost in sales if the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) is passed. Read more

2014-04-24 08.05.06 am

At NETmundial, One Word Has Many Meanings

They say that the Inuit language can be daunting to outsiders, because they have dozens of different words for “snow”. In the language of Internet governance we have the opposite challenge, where one word can have dozens of different – often contradictory – meanings.

This dynamic was on full display during the first day of the NETmundial in Sao Paolo, Brazil yesterday. Words like “governance” and “multistakeholder” were repeated by the widest range of stakeholders, from governments to civil society to technologists to business.  But their meanings diverged widely. Read more

iawful logo building texture

Spring 2014 iAWFUL List – Consumers in the Crosshairs

Twice a year, the team releases an updated iAWFUL list. The list provides a concise collection of both active and proposed legislation that would present a significant non-market barrier to Internet commerce.

This year’s list is full of legislative efforts run amok. As legislators and regulators fall over themselves in a race to regulate Internet services, many are doing more harm than good. In many cases unfamiliarity with technology or misinformation is driving action.

Data breaches and privacy concerns have whipped elected officials into action, but as the 2014 iAWFUL list finds, elected officials are making things worse. Read more

2014-04-09 09.08.27 am

How Russia and China could take over the internet!

How Russia and China could take over the internet!

Kevin Murphy, April 7, 2014, 13:42:49 (UTC), Domain Policy

Do governments have too much potential power over ICANN, and do they need reining in before the US cuts itself loose?

It’s a question that’s emerging given the recent decision of the United States government to remove itself from stewardship of the domain name system root zone.

The US National Telecommunications and Information Administration may have no intention of allowing other governments to replace it as overseer of the IANA functions, but that doesn’t mean that governments won’t be able to abuse their powers in future under ICANN’s existing structures. Read more