New Jersey’s $650M attack on ridesharing takes workers out of the driver’s seat

New Jersey’s Department of Labor slapped Uber with an astronomical $650 million fine last month. Why?

It seems the state has decided that Uber drivers aren’t contract workers, but rather, employees. For those very drivers, it was shocking news.

So it goes, the Garden State taxed Uber, seeking to morph Uber drivers into employees. The government, too, is looking to backdate that change so that the company owes the government income taxes from its previous years of operation. But this forced reclassification threatens a thriving marketplace that has served both riders and drivers tremendously. It’s the same kind of initiative that’s been tried on the West Coast — this year, California passed a law that will reclassify as employees a huge number of contractors across the state.

Read more at the NJ.com…

NetChoice Commends Sen. Wicker’s Draft Privacy Legislation

“This draft bill is a solid compromise between businesses and privacy advocates,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice. “By eliminating a patchwork of differing and potentially conflicting state laws Sen. Wicker’s bill protects citizens’ privacy while helping America’s small businesses.”

“While there are parts of the bill that should be improved before it becomes law, Sen. Wicker’s bill presents the best opportunity to turn years of congressional debate on privacy into action.”

“Like GDPR, this bill applies privacy laws to all data collectors — aiding privacy and security across the board. Unlike CCPA, Sen. Wicker’s bill is more comprehensive and doesn’t have carve outs for special interests.”

The U.K.’s Facebook-fueled sprint to election day

Politico Morning Tech

NetChoice President Steve DelBianco called the new taxes “a desperate bid to help French companies compete,” he said. “Just a month after President Macron promised to grow France’s flailing tech industry, his government imposed these taxes to knee-cap American competitors.”

NetChoice Applauds the USTR Investigation of France’s Digital Services Tax

Today NetChoice applauded the US Trade Representative for investigating and considering action against the French Digital Services Tax (DST), which would impose a 3% tax on gross revenue from businesses with annual revenue of $830 million globally. 

“In a desperate bid to help French companies compete, France designed new taxes to penalize America’s online leaders,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“France flaunted OECD policies when it imposed this discriminatory new tax,” continued DelBianco.  “Just a month after President Macron promised to grow France’s flailing tech industry, his government imposed these taxes to knee-cap American competitors.”

“The USTR is standing-up for American businesses by investigating France’s discriminatory tax. Our government needs to show foreign powers that they will pay a price for targeting America’s online leaders for discriminatory taxes.”

“The DST is doubly discriminatory, by targeting American online business while steering clear of most French companies and sparing ad revenue earned by broadcast and print media.”

NetChoice Applauds the USTR Investigation of France’s Digital Services Tax

Today NetChoice applauded the US Trade Representative for investigating and considering action against the French Digital Services Tax (DST), which would impose a 3% tax on gross revenue from businesses with annual revenue of $830 million globally. 

“In a desperate bid to help French companies compete, France designed new taxes to penalize America’s online leaders,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“France flaunted OECD policies when it imposed this discriminatory new tax,” continued DelBianco.  “Just a month after President Macron promised to grow France’s flailing tech industry, his government imposed these taxes to knee-cap American competitors.”

“The USTR is standing-up for American businesses by investigating France’s discriminatory tax. Our government needs to show foreign powers that they will pay a price for targeting America’s online leaders for discriminatory taxes.”

“The DST is doubly discriminatory, by targeting American online business while steering clear of most French companies and sparing ad revenue earned by broadcast and print media.”

NetChoice Raises Concerns with the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act

Today, NetChoice raised concerns with the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act introduced by Sen. Cantwell. The bill creates a private right of action with statutory damages, harms America’s mid-size businesses, and fails to provide a comprehensive privacy law for the country.

“America’s mid-size businesses face a Sophie’s choice about whether to live with today’s patchwork of state privacy laws, or support this bill that would unleash a tsunami of class action lawsuits,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President & General Counsel for NetChoice.

“The “right to delete” rules in this bill would help bad actors hide their past transgressions, as some have done using Europe’s “Right To Be Forgotten.” Of the total removal requests made using that law in the UK and Ireland, 31% were related to frauds and scams, 20% were violent or serious criminal arrests, and 12% were child pornography arrests.”

“Far from being comprehensive about consumer privacy, this bill does not apply to personal data collected by non-profits, banks, and healthcare providers.”

Democratic Privacy Bill Allows Lawsuits Over Data Violations (1)

Bloomberg Government

“This bill is creating a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ for America’s mid-sized businesses,” said Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, a right-leaning tech trade association that counts Alphabet Inc.‘s Google and Facebook as members. “Do they want a patchwork of state laws or a tsunami of class action lawsuits?”

Szabo’s group has been among those looking to congressional legislation to overrule state laws.

“There’s no point in doing a federal privacy bill unless it creates a standard, nationwide law and eliminates the patchwork problem,” Szabo said. “We don’t need a 51st privacy law.”

NetChoice Applauds the Announcement of an Investigation Into Failures in The Concert Ticket Market

Ten years ago, the Department of Justice approved the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation via a 10-year consent decree that expires in 2020. This approved vertical merger allowed the dominant ticketing platform to merge with the largest promoter of concerts but we are now seeing how this dominance is being abused to harm consumers.

“Since the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger approval, Ticketmaster grew to dominate the primary ticket sales market, obtaining a 70-80% market share,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Investigations have found sizeable holdbacks of tickets from public sales allowing Ticketmaster to abuse its market position to unfairly raise prices for fans.”

“Ticketmaster, not content with dominating the primary ticket sales market is using its market power to monopolize the ticket resale market too,” continued Szabo. “Ticketmaster is trying to force consumers to giveaway or sell tickets only through Ticketmaster’s own platform so Ticketmaster can collect yet another service fee.”

“The DOJ must engage in a deep review of anti-competitive practices by Ticketmaster and make the concert ticket market serve consumers once again.”

NetChoice Response to Andrew Yang’s Tech Proposals

Today, Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang released a slew of tech proposals, covering four main issues:

  • Privacy and Consumer Data
  • The Use of Technology, Especially by Young People
  • Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
  • Antitrust Enforcement and Tech

Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice pushed back on Yang’s proposals:

Privacy and Consumer Data

“The current online advertising model enables consumers to access high quality content and sophisticated services for free. Yang’s policy would create more paywalls around content and diminish the presence of free services.”

“On Yang’s internet we will have more paywalls and less content.”

“Americans support the current market structure. By a 3-to-1 margin Americans prefer online services to be funded by targeted advertising rather than paying for them directly.”

The Use of Technology, Especially by Young People

“The surge in access to technology and the internet in the 21st Century benefits us all every day – that’s why tech is so prevalent in society today.”

“For a candidate who claims to focus on “evidence-based policy,” Yang’s most outlandish claims lack evidence.”

“Rather than proposing knee-jerk policy responses to perceived problems, Yang should wait for more evidence on tech’s impact on children and not ignore a recent study that found no link between social media usage and negative impacts on mental health in teens.”

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

“We must dispel with this myth that because online services moderate user-created content, they are equivalent to the New York Times or the Washington Post. Unlike the journalists at the New York Times or Washington Post, Facebook doesn’t write posts and Twitter doesn’t write tweets — users do.

“The New York Times and the Washington Post’s comment section benefits from the same legal structure and protections as social media businesses.”

“Social media services moderate content to reduce the presence of hate speech, scams, and spam. Yang’s proposal to amend Section 230 would likely increase the amount of hate speech and terrorist content online.”

“Yang incorrectly claims a “publisher vs. platform grey area.” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not categorize online services. Section 230 enables services that host user-created content to remove content without assuming liability.”

Antitrust Enforcement and Tech

“We welcome Yang’s recognition that breaking up tech businesses wouldn’t benefit consumers. The role of antitrust and regulation in the U.S. is to protect consumers, not competitors of successful businesses.”

Yang Proposes Tax on Digital Ads in Swipe at Facebook, Google

Bloomberg

NetChoice, a lobbying group that counts Facebook and Google as members, criticized Yang’s proposal.

“The current online advertising model enables consumers to access high quality content and sophisticated services for free,” NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo said in a statement. “Yang’s policy would create more paywalls around content and diminish the presence of free services.”