Facial recognition tech a boon for law enforcement

The Boston Herald

Facial recognition technology has become a lightning rod for debate in Massachusetts.
Proponents of the technology — and, yes, I’m one of them — argue that it helps law enforcement
to investigate and solve crime. Opponents say the technology has outpaced the law and needs
to be regulated.

I think the answer is simple: lawmakers should debate the issues; legislate reasonable
safeguards, if needed; and enable law enforcement to get on with using a valuable tool to find
criminals and keep our communities safe.

Read more…

More retailers found charging wrong Sandy Springs sales tax; experts see no easy fix

Reporter Newspaper

The problems have compounded in the era of online sales, which are taxed based on the customer’s delivery address, resulting in a complicated sales tax system whose flaws raise the ire of local governments and retailers alike. “If Home Depot is having trouble with sales tax complexities, imagine the troubles that small businesses are confronting all over the country,” says Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, a trade association of online and tech businesses.

Open Coalition Letter on Use of Facial Recognition by Law Enforcement

Open Coalition Letter on Use of Facial Recognition by Law Enforcement

How Do You Value Data? A Reply To Jaron Lanier’s Op-Ed In The NYT

Tech Liberation Front

Shadow prices can also be calculated through surveys, which is where they get controversial. Depending on how the question is worded, users willingness to pay for privacy can be wildly variable. Trade association NetChoice worked with Zogby Analytics to find that only 16 percent of people are willing to pay for online platform service. Strahilevitz and Kugler found that 65 percent of email users, even though they knew their email service scans emails to serve ads, wouldn’t pay for alternative. 

Coalition Letter Supporting H.H. 4069 - The Modern Worker Empowerment Act

Coalition Letter Supporting H.H. 4069 – The Modern Worker Empowerment Act

The Hotel Industry Is Lobbying to Make Your Next Vacation More Expensive

The Daily Signal

Earlier this month, Congressman Ed Case introduced a bill that would make finding accommodation on your next getaway more expensive—regardless of where you choose to stay.

Why? It turns out hotels don’t like your cheap stays with Airbnb and HomeAway, and they’re lining up behind this bill to run those platforms off the market.

The Hawaii Democrat calls it the “PLAN Act,” short for Protecting Local Authority and Neighborhoods. The bill would amend a crucial internet provision called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—the law that enables online services to host large amounts of user-created content without bearing liability for that content.

Read more…

This Hawaiian Hotelier Hates Airbnb so Much He’s Willing to Destroy the Internet To Kill It

Reason Magazine

“This bill creates a moral hazard by letting big hotel chains harass short term rental competitors, just so the big hotels can further increase their room rates,” says Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, a trade association of e-commerce businesses. “Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online. The bill empowers Marriott to stop us from lawfully earning rental income on our own homes.”

Hotel industry mounts attack on Airbnb with House bill

The Hill

Steve DelBianco, president of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, which promotes free speech on the internet, called Section 230 “the greatest internet law that no one’s ever heard of.”

He said issues with short-term rentals should be addressed at the local level.

“Congress should not get involved with how the city of Austin, Texas, enforces its lodging and local zoning laws against property owners,” DelBianco said. “But Congress is being pulled into this competitive conflict because Section 230 is a federal law and bars local governments from imposing liability on a platform for commerce and communication that came from users.”

Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s general counsel, argued that Case’s bill would encourage platforms to be less responsive to take down content of bad actors, which is a component of Section 230 and could lead to platforms not doing any moderation at all, similar to how 8chan operates.

“This bill would create disincentives for short term rental platforms to engage in active, aggressive, monitoring of homeowners,” he said.

Like others in the short-term rental lobby, DelBianco said NetChoice plans to educate lawmakers “on the general hazards of punching holes in Section 230.”

NetChoice Criticizes Bill That Would Upend Short-Term Rental Market

Today, NetChoice criticized a new bill introduced by Rep. Case (D-HI) that would upend the American short-term rental market by removing Section 230 protections for platforms where owners list their properties.

“This bill creates a moral hazard by letting big hotel chains harass short term rental competitors, just so the big hotels can further increase their room rates,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.  [see direct quotes from hotel chain executives below]

“Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online.  The bill empowers Marriott to stop us from lawfully earning rental income on our own homes.”

“It’s laughable to hold the Washington Post liable for bad acts associated with rentals that appear in classified ads — but that is what this bill does.  This bill is so broad it allows cities to ban home rental ads on craigslist and on any website showing classified ads.”

Hotel chain executives have said on record that laws curtailing STRs would allow them to raise prices:

  • LaSalle Hotel Properties’ CEO Mark Barnello told his investors that a law curtailing short-term rental services would allow hotels to boost their prices by eliminating competition.  Passage of a law liming short-term rental services “should be a big boost in the arm for the business, certainly in terms of the pricing.”
  • On an earnings call last year, Jon Bortz, Chief Executive of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, which owns Embassy Suites, Doubletree and other hotels, said that Airbnb has put a dent on the company’s “ability to price at what maybe the customer would describe as sort of gouging rates.”

NetChoice Raises Concerns with FTC Decree Against YouTube for Alleged COPPA Violations

Today, NetChoice raised concerns about the FTC’s announcement that they plan to fine YouTube for alleged COPPA violations.

“Congress created COPPA with clear guardrails — today the FTC broke through them,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel of NetChoice. “This action puts all general audience sites on unsure footing. Is Angry Birds now subject to COPPA? What about CandyCrush or Marvel comics?” 

“The FTC has transformed COPPA from objective principles to subjective punishment for virtually any website – whether child-directed or not.”

In its decision, the FTC greatly expanded the existing subjective COPPA standard to general audience websites even when users sign a contract saying they are over 13.

“This decree will slash the advertising revenue that supports video creators producing high-quality child-friendly content. This means far fewer ad dollars to support videos that my teenager watches to learn about nutrition, sports instruction, and science projects,” said NetChoice President Steve DelBianco.