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Privacy fears slaying serious conversation

We’ve seen TV shows about ghost hunters and Bigfoot hunters, where they eschew science and fact in favor of fears and fantasy.   That’s understandable, since it’s impossible to have real conversations when some talk about what might exist and others are talking about what does exist.  The same is true for sweeping privacy legislation coming out of the Obama White House. 

This week the White House released its Privacy Bill of Rights — sweeping privacy legislation based mostly on anecdotes and fears instead of evidence and cost-benefit analysis.  By arming the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with incredible new punitive powers, this bill strings CAUTION tape in front of American businesses developing new technologies and business models.

READ more at The Hill

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State Legislatures Tone Deaf to Americans’ Desire To Control Personal Privacy After Death

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Eighteen state legislatures are drafting or debating bills that would curtail the ability for Americans to control the privacy of their personal communications when they die – despite the fact that Americans believe their right to privacy does not end when they take their last breath.

According to a new poll* conducted by Zogby Analytics for NetChoice, the vast majority of Americans believe that maintaining the privacy of their electronic communications trumps giving access to family and heirs. Read more


Time for the ECPA to Get an ’80s-Style Remake

The 1980s were a decade to remember. Advancements in the ’80s became the foundation for many of the technologies that have become a part of our daily lives — wireless phones, video game consoles and, of course, the foundations of the Internet. And just like our favorite ’80s TV shows are remade into new movies (such as “Transformers” and “The A-Team”) let’s add a 28-year-old online privacy law deserving of a remake too: the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The ECPA, which was passed in 1986, set standards to restrict government access to private communications. But in the nearly 30 years since, this law has shown it has loopholes that expose some private data of American citizens.


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NetChoice Statement on White House Privacy Announcement

“We are encouraged by President Obama’s focus to create a national data breach standard that preempts the morass of 46 different state laws. However, such legislation should not include an artificial shot-clock for notification but instead should follow the reasonable time frame in the California law.”

“We are perplexed as to why the President would abandon the NTIA multi-stakeholder privacy process — created and convened by the White House – by introducing new overriding legislation,” said Carl Szabo, privacy counsel for NetChoice. The NTIA process brings together key data security and data privacy stakeholders to create a consensus driven solution. “To create a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that is operationally feasible and has the support of industry and public sector the White House should continue its multi-stakeholder process and avoid undermining it through legislative actions.

“Increased consumer protections and privacy are of the utmost importance to all of us. But we want to make sure that a workable and reasonable solution is put into place to secure the President’s vision of privacy, security, and innovation.”


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.



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


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.


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


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