Removing Alex Jones from Social Media Isn't About the First Amendment

Content moderation can be controversial, as demonstrated earlier this week when leading online platforms removed content and accounts posted by Alex Jones and his media property “Infowars.”

Many conservatives contend that the removal of Alex Jones’s content violated his freedom of speech. Ironically, these are often the same people that argue private businesses should be able to operate the way they want.

Private entities, including online platforms, are not bound by the first amendment, which applies only to action by the government. Private actors are bound by corporate policies and market forces…

Read More at the Daily Caller

Don’t Let NY City Stay in Bed with Hotel Conglomerates

Imagine having city inspectors knocking on your door with a warrant to enter your home and fine you $8,000. The crime? Renting out a room as a short-term rental without hotel-level fire alarm and sprinkler systems, elevator access, and a host of other absurdities.

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NetChoice Releases Policy Note on Car Rental Handouts

Last week, alongside the publishing of this article on The Drive, NetChoice released a new policy note, examining the large handouts big rental car companies receive.

The note shows that car rental companies receive a national yearly total of over $3 billion in tax breaks.

The note also provides data showing how much rental car companies received in sales tax exemptions in 2016.

Unlike car rental companies, people who use apps like Turo to lease out their cars do not enjoy these tax breaks

Ignoring this multi-billion dollar tax break, car rental companies claim that peer-to-peer car sharing platforms like Turo are the same as car rental companies.  Big car rental companies are using “level playing field” rhetoric to justify calls for stiff regulations onto peer-to-peer car platforms designed to skew in favor of big rental.

Read the full policy note here, and take a look at press coverage on its findings by Reason Magazine and The Drive.

A Taxing Issue for State Legislators

This week, lawmakers from across the country convene in Los Angeles for the National Conference of State Legislatures, where they will hopefully attend to threats to America’s small businesses and consumers from an onslaught of new internet sales tax obligations.

Newly emboldened state tax collectors are aggressively imposing sales tax obligations on businesses with no physical presence within their borders. Online sellers must now absorb the costs of new systems and compliance—including liability for taxes on past purchases where no tax was due at the time of the sale.

Read More at Route Fifty

Maybe Brett Kavanaugh Can Save Conservative Supreme Court Justices From Their Judicial Activism

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s consideration for the bench could pull Supreme Court’s conservatives back from their recent lurch into judicial activism. Nowhere else was this judicial activism by Conservative judges more apparent than in last month’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair.

This decision exposed countless small businesses to tax collectors from 46 states. In doing so, the court struck down a key Supreme Court precedent that required a business to be physically present in a state before it can be forced to collect tax there.

Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there.

Read more at the Daily Caller

NetChoice Submits Comments on NTIA International Internet Policy Priorities

NetChoice submitted comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) regarding international internet policy priorities. We covered several topics, including ICANN and the IANA transition, online platform liability, and online privacy regulations.

First, the IANA transition enabled many hard-won bylaws improvements to hold ICANN accountable to Internet businesses and users. If our government even talks about unwinding the transition, it emboldens critics of the U.S. to push for ICANN and IANA functions to be moved to the UN system – which is about as far away from the private sector as you can go.

Second, we asked NTIA to prioritize free expression online, protected in the USA by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This law has been crucial in protecting free speech online in the age of user-generated content. Internationally, NetChoice argued that NTIA should push for Section 230-style rules to be adopted by trading partners of the United States.

Finally, NetChoice highlighted the costs to American small businesses caused by foreign privacy regulations, such as data localization laws and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Despite these laws being foreign, they will harm American small businesses.  GDPR, for example, applies to any business that processes information for a European resident – even if the resident is on U.S. soil.

 

Read NetChoice’s Comments Here

 

 

Don’t damage our democracy by breaking up big tech

We’ve heard the saber rattling from big tech critics who want to break up Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google. They claim they are helping the little guy and that they want more competition. But, new weapons these critics seek would give federal regulators unprecedented power — and undermine our democracy.

Read more at the East Bay Times

Also read in The Seattle Times, The La Crosse Tribune, and The Independent Record

Retail Apocalypse or Retail Revolution?

Pointing to high-profile bankruptcies and empty store windows, some analysts say we are witnessing a “retail apocalypse.” But a deeper dive into the latest earnings reports and retail trends suggests we’re seeing something entirely different: a retail revolution.

The rise of e-commerce has upended the retail ecosystem, but the future is not e-commerce. Instead, traditional retailers and e-commerce firms are racing to meet evolving consumer expectations for seamless omnichannel retail experiences.

For many traditional retailers, 2017 was a big year for investment and experimentation, and the winners were those who merged physical and e-commerce platforms into a seamless consumer experience.

Read More at Morning Consult

Don’t Assume the Supreme Court Will Open the Door For New Internet Taxes

State tax collectors are counting on a vote from Justice Thomas to put them over the top. Knowing that Justice Thomas isn’t a fan of the dormant commerce clause, one of the many issues at play in Wayfair, these tax-advocates are already counting his vote.

Too bad they haven’t looked back more than a couple of years. If they did see what Thomas, Kennedy, and Scalia all agreed in Quill, these tax advocates would realize that Thomas may not help them, and in fact, Kennedy might not either.

For a Smooth Ride, e-Scooter Providers and Cities Need to Get Along

America’s tech industry has embraced the idea of permissionless innovation, where new online business models set up operations without requesting approval from public officials. That’s how eBay revolutionized the way people sell their stuff, and it’s how sharing economy businesses became a great way for Americans to rent their own homes and cars to travelers.

To be sure, permissionless innovation has brought new waves of competition and consumer choice. But sometimes those waves wash right over public officials, raising their skepticism and scrutiny. We’ve already seen the pitfalls of permissionless innovation when some businesses placed their bikes and scooters on city streets.

Read More at National League of Cities’s CitySpeak