POLITICO - Former congressman lobbying for NetChoice on sex-trafficking bill

“It’s the right aim, the right idea — but in some subtle yet critical respects, the wrong approach,” Cox said of SESTA in an email. “Proper application of the existing statute will punish the guilty while protecting the innocent.”

“One of the things we’re working on is to help clarify the legislative intent and clarify what Congress was thinking when it created Section 230 to help ameliorate the confusion in the courts,” Carl Szabo, senior policy counsel at NetChoice, said in an interview.

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Chicago Tonight WTTW - Geolocation Privacy Protection Act Awaits Action by Rauner

But it could be bad for users’ experience, says Carl Szabo, senior policy counsel for the trade association NetChoice which advocates for fewer restrictions on online businesses.

“Having more pop-ups when you use your device or different pop-ups can create confusion,” Szabo said. “[This bill] begins messing with the notices we’ve become accustomed to using and become familiar with. It requires custom notifications for each app.”

Szabo is also concerned about the language in the bill, which says geolocation information includes the “precise” location of the device. “[HB3449] doesn’t define precise. Is it exactly where I am now? Is it the address? Is it the city block? … Without that that definition I worry there can be abuses of the gaps in the legislative language,” Szabo said. “[The bill] has undefined terms that leave businesses open to legal action.”

Opponents, like Szabo, say consumers are already protected under the federal legislation, specifically Section 5 of The Federal Trade Commission Act.

“We already have the laws on the books to address the concerns being raised by sponsors and supporters of the bill,” Szabo said. “The FTC Act is decades old, well established and enforced vigorously. … It prohibits unfair or deceptive trade practices.”

Both the federal government and states’ attorneys can enforce the act, according to Szabo. “Complaints are filed fairly often by consumer advocate groups not only with the state attorney general but with the Federal Trade Commission itself,” he said.

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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..

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NetChoice Welcomes the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017

“NetChoice welcomes the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017’s common-sense privacy protections for our electronic communications.  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.

NPR Illinois - Illinois Issues: The Battle Over Transparency And Privacy In The Digital Age

“[The bill] would require business to keep and store more user information than they have to today, says Carl Szabo, senior policy counsel for NetChoice, a Washington, D.C. trade association of ecommerce businesses and online consumers that advocate for fewer restrictions for online businesses.  Some of its members include companies like Lyft, eBay and Facebook.

“This bill actually puts potentially consumer information at greater risk than it’s at today because you are forcing businesses to create a honey pot of information,” he says.

Others like Szabo, from NetChoice, say that any additional legislation will hurt Illinois and continue to provide a so called “chilling effect” for tech companies that want to expand their areas of innovation. Illinois he says, is a state with laws that are already tough on privacy. The Biometric Information Privacy Act, for example, aims to regulate how companies collect, use, handle and store biometric identifiers and biometric information. According to the Act, biometric identifiers can be anything from “a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry.” Without explicit consent from consumers, a website or app can’t collect or store such data. There is some facial recognition software, Szabo says, that cannot be used in Illinois.

No other state, he says, has come close to the level of privacy regulation as Illinois has.

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Illinois News Network - Business and tech groups say geolocation is unnecessary and will confuse consumers

Carl Szabo from NetChoice, an e-commerce trade association, said the language about location in the proposed law is too vague and could cause unexpected effects, such as difficulty retrieving a stolen or lost phone.

“Today, you can call up your carrier and have them help you track down the phone. This bill could make that illegal because they would need to get express opt-in consent from you before they can engage in that feature, and you would have had to opted in to that on the phone itself,” Szabo said. “So once it’s gone you may not be able to get it back.”

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Progressive Liberal - Is Trump Trying to Tackle Internet Sales Tax? – His Tweet About Amazon Suggests Maybe

Carl Szabo is senior policy counsel at Netchoice which represents e-commerce businesses.  He pointed out to the Hill that the 2013 legislation would subject business owners to thousands of taxing jurisdictions. The new tax codes would be “enough to make it near-impossible for small businesses to compete online,” Szabo said.

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The Hill - Trump reopens fight on internet sales tax

Carl Szabo — senior policy counsel at NetChoice, which represents e-commerce businesses — said that he’s concerned that legislation like the 2013 bill would subject businesses to thousands of taxing jurisdictions and put them within the reach of multiple state tax auditors. That would be “enough to make it near-impossible for small businesses to compete online,” he said.

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The Olympian - Online sales-tax money is key part of state budget. Could a lawsuit derail it?

Steve DelBianco, the executive director of NetChoice, a trade association focusing on electronic commerce, said he’s developing legal arguments and rounding up money to challenge the plan.

“Washington is not likely to see any new revenue from this law, since a court would bar enforcement while legal challenges are resolved,” DelBianco said in an email. “So nobody in Olympia should be counting on new tax revenue in the near term.”

Colorado’s court win is not standing in the way of another legal challenge to Washington, DelBianco said.

Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s senior policy counsel, said a lawsuit also could contend that Washington’s law violated privacy protections in the U.S. Constitution.

DelBianco said the information retailers send to the state could “reveal preferences that could be very damaging if they were to become public,” such as purchases from vendors specializing in “health issues, clothing, sexual orientation, personal tastes and financial circumstances.”

“The extent to which that vendor reveals the name of something that’s personal — that information will be in the hands of the state tax department,” DelBianco said.

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Providence Journal - Trade group threatens legal action if R.I. approves plan to collect more online sales tax

NetChoice, an e-commerce trade group that’s challenged online sales tax policies in states across the country — including a current lawsuit against Massachusetts — is urging senators to reject the sales tax provisions in the Rhode Island budget, which they call “privacy invading,” costly and unfair.

“Don’t pass this law,” said Carl Szabo, senior policy counsel at Washington, D.C.-based NetChoice. “It is hard to understand what the purpose of it is except for the perception that the Internet is hurting Main Street. Now Amazon, Walmart and most of the top 20 online retailers collect and remit sales tax for Rhode Island.”

“We are drafting our legal arguments to challenge the law, raising funds and building a coalition to take action,” Szabo said.

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