It would be a mistake for Congress to prohibit targeted advertising online

The Internet has democratized access to information and delivered a dazzling array of free online services, like search, news, maps, and social media. But imagine a world where the next time you use a search engine, instead of seeing results, you see a requirement to enter a credit card. Or the next time you visit USA Today there is fewer content and even more ads on the screen.

In this alternate world, you are bombarded with pop-ups and interstitials, all of which are asking for consent in various ways: blanket consent for use of all “sensitive” information, consent for use of some sensitive information, consent for use of sensitive and non-sensitive information, and so on.

It’s hard to argue that this world would be an improvement for user experience, much less user privacy.

Nonetheless, this troubling future could become a reality if Congress passes the “BROWSER Act” – legislation that requires online websites and services to get affirmative consent from users before serving any ads based on their interests. The proposed legislation would create a nightmare “opt-in regime for interest-based ads.”

READ MORE at The Hill

Illinois Legislation Hammers Small Businesses

While attending the University of Chicago, my dad, like many college students, often stopped by his favorite pizza parlor for some choice deep dish pan pizza. Since then, many of the mom and pop pizza parlors he frequented have migrated online to serve a larger customer base and cut down on brick and mortar expenses. But with the impending passage of SB 1502, these Illinois mainstays of the community might be facing burdensome costs that provide no real benefit to them or their customers.

SB 1502 would require the operator of a commercial website or online service to notify customers anytime information about them is collected or disclosed. This information can be for germane purposes and operational maintenance to reasons related to the nature of the website. Read more

Repealing Colorado’s Tattletale Law: An Opportunity to Restore Coloradans’ Privacy

“Union and Constitution.” These words appear on the Great Seal of Colorado and celebrate the ideals enshrined in the Federal Constitution, including the rights of freedom of expression and privacy.

Sadly, in 2010, the Colorado legislature enacted a tax reporting law that assaults those rights. The aptly nicknamed Colorado “tattletale” law requires online and catalog businesses to report to the state Department of Revenue (DOR) Colorado shoppers’ purchases, including the name of the catalog or online store where the shopper made purchases; the shopper’s name and address; and the amount the shopper spent on products or services.

Thankfully the legislature soon will have the opportunity to restore Colorado residents’ privacy rights later this Spring with SB 17-238, which if passed would repeal the tattletale reporting provision. Read more

Tattletale Tax Reporting Law Violates Consumer Privacy, Coloradans Say

Overwhelming Majority Say State Should Not Be Collecting Personal Information on Shopping Habits, NetChoice Survey Finds

An overwhelming majority of Coloradans believe a state law forcing online and catalog businesses to report personal purchase information to state tax authorities is an invasion of privacy, per a new NetChoice survey of Colorado residents.* Residents also view the law’s misguided aim to collect sales and use taxes as a statewide tax increase.

Fully 78 percent of Coloradans said the state should not be allowed to force businesses to turn over information on their internet purchases, including the retailer’s name, the customer’s name, the billing address, the shipping address, and the amount of purchases. Read more

Ohlhausen should direct FTC to focus on real harms to privacy

When was the last time you read a privacy policy? I mean actually read it, not just clicked “I agree”?

The FTC has said time and time again that “consumers don’t read privacy policies.”  They’ve been doing this for nearly a decade. In 2007, then-Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz declared that “in many cases, consumers don’t notice, read, or understand the privacy policies.” Likewise, study after study has substantiated this fact.

Of course, it doesn’t take an FTC chairman, or a researcher to tell us this, we all know that we rarely, if ever, read the privacy policies we’re presented.

READ MORE at The Hill

NetChoice Applauds Introduction of Email Privacy Act

The Email Privacy Act (HR 387) would extend privacy protections to all electronic content, fixing a legacy flaw in our law that give little protection to emails over 6 months old. 

The bi-partisan Email Privacy Act (HR 387) brings common-sense legal privacy protections to all our electronic content.  Today, our privacy in electronic communication is protected by a 30-year-old law that is decades out of date.  The Act brings the 30-year-old ECPA law into the 21st Century,” said NetChoice Senior Policy Counsel Carl Szabo.

“We look forward to working with Congress in advancing this bill to benefit all Americans.”

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?

On Surveillance, DOJ Needs to Know When to Fold ‘Em

Our Department of Justice needs to heed Kenny Rogers’ advice in “The Gambler,” and “know when to fold ‘em.” In their pursuit of data on Microsoft’s servers in Ireland, the DOJ is again betting on a bad hand, and they’re not going to bluff their way to a win when the stakes are so high for companies and consumers around the world.

Last week, the DOJ went all-in by petitioning the Second Circuit court for rehearing after losing this summer in court.

READ MORE at Morning Consult

Rethink class action lawsuits in the digital age

It’s been said that making a mistake requires a person – making a big mistake requires a computer. And we’ve all experienced this. Accidentally hitting “reply all” or sending out a Tweet instead of a direct message.

While we all figured this out pretty quickly, greedy attorneys figured this out too. They realized they can mutate decades-old consumer protection rules into giant pay-days by combining harmless computer errors with class action lawsuits and statutory damages.

READ MORE at The Hill

The Hill – European courts should provide a clear ‘Safe Harbor’ for the Internet

To watch BBC News or send online messages to European friends, data must flow across the Atlantic. The EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Agreement makes these data transfers possible – but this might soon change.

We could soon see “cyber-fences” between the U.S. and EU if negotiators from both sides fail to adopt a new agreement by the end of the month.

Read more at The Hill