$80 Billion Tab for a "Free Lunch"

We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Everything comes at a price, including free Internet content and web services, nearly all of which are paid for by advertisers.

Proponents of “Do Not Track” legislation talk about giving consumers what they want, but nobody is asking whether consumers want to start paying the price — if advertisers won’t pay the bills anymore.

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Do Americans Really Want Do Not Track?

Iawful LogoWe often hear politicians say, “Americans need this” and “Americans demand that.”  But before Congress passes new privacy laws to regulate online advertising, let’s be honest about what Americans really want.


As we described in iAWFUL last week,Federal legislation to mandate Do Not Track would cut deeply into the online
advertising revenue that pays for free content and services and funds so much Internet innovation.  We need an honest discussion of the impact of Do Not Track.  But what we hear from Capitol Hill is politically charged rhetoric and misrepresented surveys and statistics to justify predetermined agendas. Read more

Updated iAWFUL List Ranks Top Threats to Online Commerce

Today we published our March 2011 “iAWFULIawful Logolist of bad Internet laws.  We identified a surge in state and federal online privacy legislation that is threatening to tie the hands of online innovators.   (iAWFUL was already picked-up in CNET, Politico, The Hill, and Siliconvalley.com)

Our Internet Advocates’ Watchlist for Ugly Laws (iAWFUL) tracks the 10 pieces of state and federal  legislation that pose the greatest threat to the Internet and e-commerce.  Read more

Institutionalizing Consumer Trust and Public Interest at ICANN

For an organization where people argue for hours over arcane minutiae, it’s remarkable that virtually everyone agrees that ICANN should serve the “global public interest” and build “consumer trust” in the Internet.


Although it’s only three pages long, ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments (AoC) cites “public interest” five times and “consumer trust” eight times. So at the ICANN meeting today in Cartagena, Colombia, a group of participants explored ways to “institutionalize” these concepts within the organization. Read more

Enhancing Trust Mechanisms for Data Collection and Information Sharing

There was a great discussion today at the New America Foundation on the technical measures of trust on the Internet and browser certificates. It was a geek-fest where nearly everyone laughed at Andrew McLaughlin’s Star-Trek analogies.


But most policymakers are not so geeky, and associate Klingons with those things that stick to your clothing. And their concerns over trust extends broader than web-based certificates to all sorts of online information collection. Read more

Cyber Security Bill Flays Those Who Pay—With No Ability for a Court Day

scales-of-justice In an effort to prove the axiom that no good deed goes unpunished, lawmakers are now looking to potentially impose onerous and costly new rules on the private-sector companies that built and operate the vast majority of the nation’s critical Internet infrastructure. And as we expressed in a recent Reuters article, draft cybersecurity legislation could block a vital aspect of the governmental process: a right to a day in court.


Based on two (1, 2) previous cybersecurity bills, a draft bill that has been circulating around town backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would give the White House sweeping new powers over companies that operate “covered critical infrastructure” or (CCI). Under the bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security could force companies that operate CCI to pay for expensive new operational requirements and upgrades. Read more

Nothing Nice on This List — Introducing iAWFUL, a NetChoice Initiative


Some of the biggest threats to the Internet have always come from well-meaning lawmakers looking to “fix” it. And lately, there’s been a whole lot of fixin’ efforts going on.

At NetChoice, we’ve always been committed to challenging legislation that threatens our vibrant industry. Today more than ever, we need a more unified and systemic approach to combat bad legislation.

That’s why we’ve created iAWFUL, the Internet Advocates Watchlist for Ugly Laws.  Read more

Raising the Bar for New Internet Domains

Running an Internet domain is a little like generating nuclear power: do it right, and you safely provide an important resource to a grateful community; do it wrong, and…well, let’s just say you don’t want to do it wrong.

That may explain why business leaders are so concerned about the latest iteration of ICANN’s plan to create potentially hundreds of new Internet domains.



I did my best to highlight those concerns when I spoke before the ICANN Board at the public forum here in Mexico City Thursday. Operators of new top-level domains will have a leading role in protecting consumers from fraud and phishing scams. In addition they must prevent abusive registrations intended to extort money out of brand owners. Defending against so-called “cybersquatting” already costs companies millions of dollars annually. The introduction of an unprecedented number of domains could increase those costs exponentially, if it isn’t handled carefully. Read more

How to avoid being cut by a Broken Bottle

Early this month, sixty thousand Australians received notice that their credit card details and account passwords may have been exposed in a security breach at Bottle Domains, an Australian domain registrar.


Receipt of this disturbing news likely started a chain of events in thousands of households and businesses: a scramble to check your credit card statements, a flurry of worried phone calls, filing paperwork to deny unauthorised charges, and then updating all your other auto-pay vendors when a shiny new credit card arrives in the post. Read more

Safer payments will help worriers to open wallets online

This week, NetChoice put out an advisory reminding Australian consumers how to shop safely online this Christmas. . Most of it would be familiar to seasoned online shoppers who know how to avoid and manage the risks of online commerce. The same could be said for a large share of six million Australian online shoppers.

It would be easy to say ‘no worries’ about consumer concerns over online safety. After all, e-commerce has been growing every year. But the sad fact is that millions of Australian consumers with internet access still don’t buy online. In light of the bargains to be had, are they mad or savvy? Read more