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Facing the Facts: The American Public Opposes an Internet Sales Tax

Polling released today makes it clear that the American public doesn’t support a new Internet tax system. It’s good to see the public isn’t fooled by proponents’ efforts to cloud this issue in buzzwords and misdirection about fairness and the defense of small retailers.

The research, published by R Street and NTU makes it clear that citizens do not trust state tax authorities and regulators to develop a simple and easy to administer system. Read more

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Survey of Law Enforcement Officials on Use of License Plate Recognition Technology

A survey of over 500 law enforcement officials found overwhelming support for license plate recognition (LPR) technology and validated its effectiveness, while acknowledging that existing policy and laws protect the privacy of individuals.

Key findings are summarized below. Note that specific questions are referenced in the findings, while much of the related information and graphics are provided through cross-tabulation of responses.

Read the Report

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Competing for Control and Transparency

Social media companies compete on features, audience size and, increasingly, their ability to make consumers feel safe sharing personal information.

The online privacy debate is frequently driven by blaring headlines, salacious stories or dramatic hypotheticals. After all, it is easier to drive web traffic with a story that focuses on leaked celebrity pictures than have an honest conversation about responsible sharing.

But, two undeniable facts face companies, regulators and consumers trying to find a solution. Read more

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No Truth Serum Needed – Internet Sales Tax Opposed by Those Most Likely to Gain From It

Helping businesses comply with increasingly complex state tax laws can be a lucrative endeavor for certified public accountants. So, in the case of the proposed Internet sales tax system, one would think they’d be shouting with joy over guiding online businesses through state tax requirements – and, of course, increasing their bottom line. Yet the exact opposite is happening.

The American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants (AAA-CPA) has recently come out against Internet sales tax under the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA). Seems like taking this position – at the risk of profitability – would require some sort of truth serum, but not so. Its membership realizes this unfair and ill-defined tax system will overburden our national economy and ultimately cost more to administer than it raises. Read more

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Section 230 Exemption Threatens Internet Commerce as Much as Speech

An effort by state attorneys general to carve a major exemption out of a critical online free speech statute poses as serious a threat to Internet commerce as it does to free expression, NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco said today.

NetChoice today joined a group of leading civil liberties and technology industry associations in opposing a push by state AGs for a broad new exemption to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 is a cornerstone of American Internet policy that protects companies from liability when users post illegal content on their sites. It is widely credited with supporting the emergence of the Web 2.0 revolution of user-generated content.

“If you want to know why the Internet and e-commerce industries thrived here and stagnated in Europe, you don’t have to look much further than Section 230,” DelBianco said. Read more

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A License Plate Reader Witch-Hunt

We are once again seeing a witch-hunt against technology, this time in the shape of license plate reader (LPR) technology.

What is LPR?

LPR is technology that makes it easier to read and write the license plate numbers of cars on the street and then compare them.  If murder suspect drives past a police car with an LPR camera, the camera reads the license plate, sees that number is flagged, and then instantly tells the officer.  If a repossession officer drives past a stolen car, they get a similar response allowing recovery before the thief drives off with the car.

LPR also makes it possible to store the number and location.  This allows police to identify likely locations of known criminals.  And it gives repossession officers the likely location of stolen assets.

Read more

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ICANN Mission Creep is Becoming Mission Leap

Under the leadership of Fadi Chehade and Steve Crocker, ICANN finally runs like an organization that has grown up. When it comes to process, accountability, and transparency, this is excellent news for the Internet. But it also raises a new question: how far will we let ICANN grow “out” of the limited technical mission for which it was created?

In his opening remarks here in Durban, Chehade announced the expansion of local engagement centers and significant expansion of ICANN staff — for the second straight year.

One can understand such dynamic expansion if ICANN is, as Chehade called it, “the greatest governance engine in the transnational sphere today.” But one can’t help but wonder whether it may be overkill for the humble technical manager of the DNS. Read more