DOJ is not wielding its power to bring down online sex trafficking

If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that sex trafficking is a horrendous crime, really the worst of the worst. Those who knowingly facilitate sex trafficking — whether it be online or offline — should be prosecuted and put in jail. Robbing the promise and potential of a human life is an egregious offense. One prime example is the notorious Backpage.com website, the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising.

In August, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) set out to thwart sex trafficking on the internet with the introduction of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). The bill would modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it easier to prosecute websites that contribute to sex trafficking.

On first blush this may seem like a good idea, but two issues should make us reconsider this approach..

READ MORE at The Hill

Steve DelBianco speaks with Small Business Radio

Part 1: We’re losing the battle for online taxes and consumer privacy

Part 2: The ongoing war for privacy and security in the cloud

Part 3: How much online freedom did you lose in 2016?

No Easy Answer For Enforcing The European “Right To Be Forgotten”

The European Court of Justice’s “Right to be Forgotten” ruling upsets a foundational principle regarding openness of the Internet – it has always been viewed as a platform to express one’s opinion and access information.  This ruling converts websites from intermediaries into censors, forcing them to balance Europeans’ right to information against individuals’ demands to suppress lawfully published information about them.

The European court gave little practical guidance on how search services should strike this balance.  So Google, the first Internet business to be targeted by the ruling, created a panel of legal, policy, and technological experts to address the challenge.

READ MORE at Forbes

Using the Internet to erase history

Using the Internet to erase history

The day Google opened its online submission process to comply with the European “right to be forgotten” ruling, the company received 12,000 requests – one every seven seconds – from users demanding that information be pulled from search results.

The cost of ignoring those requests, or getting them “wrong” in the eyes of the EU courts? Google could face fines of a billion dollars per incident. In the European Union, the process of whitewashing history is underway.

With the ruling, the court is forcing Google to perform the impossible balancing act between the newly invented “right” be forgotten and the Internet’s unique power to preserve, contextualize, and disseminate information.

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Reminder: The Constitution Protects Innovators, Too

This week, some businesses filed a constitutional challenge against Utah’s new law restricting license plate recognition technologies. The lawsuit, filed by NetChoice members DRN and Vigilant, seeks a critical precedent that would remind state legislatures that the Constitution protects innovators– just as it protects other citizens.

The businesses filing this suit offer license plate recognition (LPR) technology and services.  We first wrote about this last July, describing the LPR witch-hunt being run by privacy advocates. Read more

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

Steve DelBianco Speaks on COPPA Panel

Steve spoke on the TechFreedom Event, COPPA: Past, Present & Future of Children’s Privacy & Media

He discussed the costs of the new COPPA regulations and the harm to children’s content.

Watch the Video

Ethiopia Shows That Congress Is Right to Be Worried About UN Control of the Internet

Today a key committee in the US Congress approved a resolution opposing United Nations “control over the Internet.” While some in the Internet community have dismissed the bipartisan effort as mere political grandstanding, recent actions by some UN Member States show that lawmakers have good reason to be worried.

Last month, UN voting member Ethiopia made it a crime — punishable by 15 years in prison — to make calls over the Internet. The Ethiopian government cited national security concerns, but also made it clear that it wants to protect the revenues of the state-owned telecom monopoly. (those guys really hate it when people use free Internet calling services like Skype and Google Talk)

The news out of Ethiopia is just the latest indication that many UN members don’t think too highly of the free and open Internet, or of its multi-stakeholder governance model. Read more

An Ovation for New Hampshire Governor Lynch’s Veto

Yesterday, New Hampshire Governor Lynch vetoed SB 175 and pulled the state back from creating a law that is so broadly written that it threatened to undermine a number of currently legal, popular, and valuable services.

But it’s not over yet as the Senate could ignore the Governor’s lead and instead vote to override the veto.

SB 175 was written, in part, because the heir to the estate of New Hampshire resident JD Salinger complained that he was not contacted before his dad’s likeness appeared on coffee mugs and t-shirts.  Riding on this understanding of the bill, SB 175 passed the legislature despite warnings of the unintended harms it would bring to New Hampshire’s online businesses.

Fortunately, Governor Lynch saw past the rhetoric, understood the harm to New Hampsire citizens, and vetoed the bill. Read more

On Privacy EU says to US, ‘You Cannot Escape’

Proposed as a ”group hug” on privacy principles between the EU and US, last week’s EU Privacy Event instead turned into an EU mandate to the US, “Our way or the highway.”  This sentiment was capstoned when Francoise Le Bail, a representative of the European Commission, said that the US “cannot escape” the EU privacy rules.

For example, we asked the EU representatives if they would respect the outcome of our multi-stakeholder process.  Jacob Kohnstamm of the Dutch Data Protection Authority said that even if the stakeholders agreed that the default for interest-based advertising is opt-out, the EU would not accept it.  And Paul Nemitz of the European Commission would dismiss those results since a multi-stakeholder process is not necessarily a product of the people. Read more