Heartland News - Gov. Rauner vetos geolocation bill Friday

“The veto allows industry to continue to do what they do best – stimulate our state’s economy, create jobs, and develop safe and amazing innovations. Illinois needs to encourage those types of efforts and find new ways to attract people to this market,” said Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice Carl Szabo. “By eliminating the disruptions and redundancies that were part of this bill, we will allow one of the state’s fastest growing industries to succeed.”


Illinois Policy - Rauner Vetoes Bill to Restrict Collection, Use of Geolocation Data

Carl Szabo, senior policy counsel for the e-commerce trade association Net Choicewarned that the language of the bill was too vague for companies to know how to comply with it, and that it was an unnecessary attempt to regulate practices already covered under federal law.


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.


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.


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.


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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Signing the letter were the app developer trade association ACT, BSA (formerly the Business Software Alliance), the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the Computing Technology Industry Association, the Entertainment Software Association, the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the Internet Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, NetChoice, Reform Government Surveillance, TechNet, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Ice Miller – What Your Business Needs to Know About Illinois’ “Right To Know” Act

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Large internet-based businesses, such as Amazon and Microsoft, as well as many online trade associations, including CompTIA, the Internet Association, and NetChoice, oppose the measure. Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce also opposes the measure, saying it will hurt small businesses and Illinois’ growing tech industry the most.


Government Technology - Facebook, Google, ACLU Voice Concerns About Republican Internet Privacy Bill

NetChoice, a trade group that includes targeted ad giants Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, says a bill proposed by Republican Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn to make web services and internet access providers like Comcast and Verizon get permission from users before collecting their data will end free services online.

“[I]magine 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,” NetChoice senior policy counsel Carl Szabo wrote in a blog post this week.

“In this alternate world,” he continued, “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.”

Szabo warns that will be the fate of the web if Congress advances the BROWSER Act. Under the law, companies on both sides of the online ecosystem would have to obtain opt-in consent from users before collecting and monetizing their sensitive data, a reversal of the current, largely opt-out requirement set down by the Federal Trade Commission. The definition of “sensitive” includes web browsing history, a category previously left unregulated before the FCC passed privacy rules aimed exclusively at internet service providers (ISPs) last year.

According to NetChoice, the bill would erase $340 billion in advertising revenue over the next five years, citing studies that show opt-in regimes are 65 percent less effective. The loss of targeted ads will mean a greater volume of ads, less content, and more paywalls across popular websites, consequences that will hit low-income Americans and small businesses hardest.

The group argues the FTC already enforces privacy standards and that the industry regulates itself. But the FTC rules only require opt-in consent for the most sensitive information, like health and financial data. Meanwhile, efforts by edge providers themselves, like Google Chrome’s “Do Not Track” feature, are largely ignored by other websites. There’s no law requiring they comply with the browser’s request.