Opeds

In a crisis you learn who your friends are — America’s tech industry

The last few weeks have shaken our world to its core. We’ve become sequestered in our homes and “socially distant” from everyone else. Businesses and schools have closed. Workers have set up offices in spare bedrooms. Coming weeks will see most non-essential social activities cease entirely.

These hardships have upended daily routines and require us to adjust to a new normal, however long or temporary it may be. But as disruptive as coronavirus has been, we still have some semblance of normalcy — all thanks to the internet.

Read More on Medium

Sacrificing internet privacy in the fight against child exploitation won’t make children safe

Chicago Tribune

There’s no question about it: We need to keep our kids safe online. This sentiment undergirds a new bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s, R-South Carolina, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-New York, which Graham says would tackle child exploitation. But it would actually do the exact opposite.

The EARN IT Act: Sen. Graham & Sen. Blumenthal’s Anti-Security Bill That Will Backfire

Although billed as a tool needed to fight online child exploitation, the EARN IT Act is chock full of unintended consequences that will actually make it harder to fight child exploitation. And as a backdoor to encryption, it’ll leave Americans’ digital security vulnerable to attack.

If passed, the EARN IT Act would:

  1. Make it easier for bad actors to attack and disclose Americans’ digital lives;
  2. Drive child predators underground and out of law enforcement’s reach;
  3. Undercut efforts to detect and combat child exploitation online;
  4. Stifle legal speech online; and
  5. Entrench large online services and make it harder for new competitors

Read more on Medium…

DC’s Transportation Department Abused Its Authority by Arbitrarily Capping Electric Scooters & Hurting Consumers

Not long ago, the District of Columbia was heralded as a leader in micromobility — a catch-all phrase for small, docked or dockless transportation options like bikes and scooters that consumers often rent using their phones.

Read more on Medium…

Everything is more expensive under the PRO Act

Medium

California’s AB 5, a law that took effect on Jan 1 of this year, heavily restricts workers who want to be contractors rather than full employees. The impact of AB 5 was to disenfranchise workers around the state who lost paying work and an honest income. Self-employed Californians were unnecessarily restricted to empower outdated and unaccountable unions. The backlash was huge.

Two Simple Facts that Lay Waste to the Antitrust Case Against Google

Medium

State attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) are trying desperately to validate their hunch that Google is engaging in anti-competitive practices. Like a car mechanic searching for a non-serious problem he can charge you for fixing, these law enforcement agencies now have to justify their rhetoric in starting a major crusade against one of America’s world-leading tech firms.

Read more on Medium…

Dallas should embrace scooters and reject arbitrary regulations

Smart Cities Dive

Getting from point A to point B in Dallas used to be simple enough — you could drive, take public transportation, walk, bike or use a ride-sharing app. 

But as Dallas gets bigger, getting around is increasingly difficult. Since 2010, Dallas’ population grew by more than 12% and the city’s public transit system isn’t keeping up.​ Walkable areas of Dallas comprise a meek 0.1% of the metro area, so almost all trips in the area require residents to own or hail a car.

Read more at Smart Cities Dive…

Section 230 Doesn’t Just Protect the Internet — Newspapers, and TV Stations Rely On It Too

Medium

Section 230 is based on the vital principle of conduit immunity — a principle relied on from cable news to bookshops to social media.

The law that powers the internet, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (1996), is constantly mischaracterized. To some, it’s the law that makes online platforms like Yelp, GoFundme, and Change.org possible. To others it’s reason bad content exists online.

Firstly, Section 230 guarantees that services that host are not liable for content posted by others, bar some exemptions. Section 230 also enables platforms to remove or otherwise moderate objectionable content without assuming liability.

Why Are Major Politicians Spreading Misinformation About Section 230?

Both political parties might find it useful to attack Section 230, but it’s not clear either understands it — or even wants to.

Read more at Medium

“Section 230 should be revoked,” Joe Biden told the New York Times in an interview published this morning.

This is not the first time the crucial internet law has come under attack by the Democratic presidential front-runner. Back in November, Biden alluded to the law, saying “I, for one, think we should be considering taking away [Facebook’s] exemption that they cannot be sued for knowingly engaged in promoting something that’s not true” (we’ll explain why this is incorrect later).

For a good explanation of what Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is, click here.

Biden’s not alone: Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the law could be repealed, and fought the inclusion of Section 230-style language in USMCA.

Read more at Medium…

Jeopardizing Core U.S. Values: Tristan Harris’s Misguided Regulatory Proposal for the Technology Industry

Medium

Sometimes we believe things so intensely that we lose sight of reality. And sometimes we are so certain of our infallibility that we ignore evidence that contradicts our beliefs. Social scientists call this phenomena confirmation bias.

And so it is with Tristan Harris. Testifying before Congress this week, Harris laid out his belief that technology businesses are “leading [us] toward civil war,” “market collapse,” and “near permanent civil disorder.”

Convinced of this belief, Harris used his stage to push proposals that would increase government control over online platforms at the expense of free speech, innovation, and consumer choice.

Read more at Medium…

‘Congress, it’s time to save the free Internet’

Washington Times

After the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect on New Year’s Day, businesses around the country began scrambling to work out how to comply with its strict rules and regulations. These days, more and more states are buying into the idea that they’ve got a role in regulating online privacy. Washington and Massachusetts, for instance, already attempted to pass their own state-based privacy laws in 2019, and many other states will likely follow suit this year.

This is bad news for online businesses, which now need to decide whether to comply with different state standards on digital privacy or to suspend service to particular states altogether. It’s also bad for consumers, who might see their options for certain services severely reduced, like they did in Europe after the EU enacted burdensome digital privacy regulations of its own in 2018.

Read more at The Washington Times…

A DOJ Investigation is the Ticket to a Fairer Market for Live Music and Sport Fans

This week, U.S. House of Representative members Buck, Gaetz, McBath, and Sensenbrenner asked the Department of Justice to look into anti-competitive actions taken by Ticketmaster and Live Nation — and they were right to do so.

Ten years ago, the Department of Justice approved the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation in a 10-year consent decree that expires in 2020. The consent decree was an agreement between DOJ and Ticketmaster-Live Nation where Ticketmaster made certain promises. For example, Ticketmaster can’t “retaliate” against any venue that wants to use a different service. This approved vertical merger allowed the dominant ticketing platform to merge with the largest promoter of concerts.

Read more on Medium…

If Congress Cares About Data Security, It Shouldn’t Weaken Encryption

More Americans than ever are concerned about protecting their data. Congress, too, has echoed these concerns. And on hearing these concerns, technology businesses like Apple, Facebook, and Google have incorporated encryption into their products.

Although complex in execution, encryption is simple in concept: companies convert information like our passwords into a code that only we can crack.

Read more on Medium…

Annapolis respects its citizens’ property rights on short-term rentals — putting it on strong legal footing

Ask any American about the American Dream and you’re likely to hear about home ownership. And if that American is a Millennial, like me, you’re likely to hear that home ownership remains just that: a dream.

But even for those Americans who do own homes, what started as a dream can quickly become a drag. That’s because most homes come with 30-year mortgages attached to them. And in places with high income taxes and high property taxes such as Maryland, homeowners often struggle to stay afloat.

Read more on Medium…

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…

Should Twitter and Facebook be punished through government regulation?

When Twitter announced its recent ban on political advertising, the Trump campaign leveled heavy criticism at the platform, suggesting in an official statement that walking away from “hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue” was “a dumb decision for their stockholders.” And when Facebook recently rejected a blanket ban on political ads, actor Sacha Baron Cohen made headlines for proclaiming that the platform would have agreed to run ads for the Nazis (something a look at Facebook’s community standards quickly proves wrong).

Read more at the Washington Times…

Taking power away from parents in a war on tech

Like many parents, I have real concerns on how best to raise my children in the digital age. There is no Dr. Spock book on raising a child in the 21st Century. I can’t ask my parents what they did when I wanted my first smartphone.

Even psychiatrists, pediatricians, and social workers can’t agree on the answers.

It is intimidating to be a parent today.

Read more at Springfield News-Leader

Taking Power Away From Parents in a War on Tech

Like many parents, I have real concerns on how best to raise my children in the digital age. There is no Dr. Spock book on raising a child in the 21st Century. I can’t ask my parents what they did when I wanted my first smartphone.  

Even psychiatrists, pediatricians, and social workers can’t agree on the answers.

It is intimidating to be a parent today.  

But one thing is clear, if parents and child experts don’t know what the answers are, we shouldn’t surrender control over how we raise our children to DC politicians and special interest groups.  

Not missing an opportunity to attack technology innovation, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced legislation to seize control over how online services operate. Sounding like Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons yelling, “won’t someone think of the children,” Sen. Hawley’s “Protecting Children from Online Predators Act” creates a parade of horribles, all part of the senator’s ongoing criticism of the tech industry. 

Read more at the Springfield News-Leader…

The Internet Didn’t Invent Lying Politicians — Contrary to Claims of Tech Critics

Political ads are nothing new. Misleading statements are nothing new in politics either. But when this occurs online, as opposed to on TV or in newspapers, that’s when tech-critics like Tim Wu suddenly have a problem.

In his New York Times op-ed, Wu airs his grievances with online businesses that dare to host political ads. Moreover, Wu complains that these businesses dare to allow politicians to include false statements in political ads.

Read more…

NetChoice Testimony in support of Michigan HB 5127 and HB 5128, regarding sales tax on data center equipment

NetChoice Testimony in support of Michigan HB 5127 and HB 5128, regarding sales tax on data center equipment