If there is one word that could sum up the current political climate, it is frustration. And that frustration takes many forms.
There are, understandably, many Americans who feel frustrated about being left behind in the internet era, and fearful of being swamped by waves of emerging technologies.
But we also have many old-economy companies and bureaucrats who view new-economy businesses as a threat to their decades-long dominance of certain markets. And these legacy companies are doing everything they can to protect their privileged position in established markets.
There has been much speculation about the online advertisements placed by Russian agents in last year’s presidential election. Was this a plot to swing the outcome? Or was it an effort to create chaos and divide our country?
Whatever the reason, there is one thing we can all agree on: foreign meddling in the domestic affairs of the United States cannot be tolerated and must be stopped.
Individual privacy is important, and Illinois should continue to enact legislation that protects our state’s consumers. However, when class-action attorneys abuse Illinois’ privacy laws to create new laws that will only enrich themselves, Illinois residents will be the ones left out as the rest of country’s technology advances.
For example, Illinois residents cannot use several home-security cameras with facial recognition to know when their children arrive home safely from school. They also cannot use facial recognition to tag and find friends and family members in personal photos stored on Amazon Photos.
Last month, U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, of Lycoming County, encouraged the Federal Trade Commission to review the practice of “white label” or “private label” ticket reselling.
These programs use deceptive web page address and aggressive search engine advertising to prey on consumers, often leading them to overpay for seats for concerts and sporting events. The sites — operated by a handful of unscrupulous companies — exist exclusively to rip off consumers. The FTC must take action.
Last year was the deadliest on American roads in a decade — even as cars have never been safer. In 2016, 40,000 Americans died because of automobile accidents. That’s 100 Americans each day. That’s one death every seven minutes.
In most any other context, we would call this an epidemic and call on our resources to address this dilemma. Unfortunately, some are resisting the best solutions to this epidemic and trying to stop it with illogical arguments.
Human error is to blame for 93 percent of car accidents. So, the best solution is to look for ways to make us all better drivers — or perhaps make it so we don’t have to drive at all.
That’s why it’s so important that we clear the roads for development, testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles or as they are more commonly known, self-driving cars.
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..
Debating the merits of not taxing Internet sales
Could a global congress on trust help control digital fear and greed
Why Massachusetts bailed on remote sales tax collection
“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.
High-end grocer Whole Foods is affectionately known as “Whole Paycheck,” even to those of us who regularly frequent the chain. Yet, I have seen a lot of pontificating on how Amazon buying Whole Foods could somehow be a bad thing.
Put simply, the class of professional worriers is worried the combination of Amazon and Whole Foods will create a juggernaut that will wipe out grocery competitors across America.
Any business that goes online to find customers is finding themselves under siege by regulators and tax collectors from multiple states, despite Supreme Court rulings that limit states’ cross-border taxing powers.
Online retailers have become a convenient scapegoat for brick-and-mortar stores looking to cast blame for the rapid contraction in retail jobs in recent months.
It’s become a such a common refrain in reports about job losses in the retail industry that it has almost become gospel.
But upon closer inspection, it’s clear that retailers have only themselves to blame for the bubble they created—a bubble that is finally bursting.
The Internet has democratized access to information and delivered a dazzling array of free online services, like search, news, maps, and social media. But imagine 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.
In this alternate world, 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.
It’s hard to argue that this world would be an improvement for user experience, much less user privacy.
Nonetheless, this troubling future could become a reality if Congress passes the “BROWSER Act” – legislation that requires online websites and services to get affirmative consent from users before serving any ads based on their interests. The proposed legislation would create a nightmare “opt-in regime for interest-based ads.”
READ MORE at The Hill
Steve DelBianco is on the shameless-tax-grab side. He leads NetChoice, a national trade association representing e-commerce sites. He says under this strange Massachusetts theory, “your business is subject to the taxation [and] regulation in any state where a user simply enters their website address. That can’t hold up to legal scrutiny, because it certainly doesn’t hold up to common sense.”
DelBianco is not convinced a cookie on your computer is the same thing as a storefront in a strip mall. He’s willing to take that argument to court, and says his group is pursuing an injunction to block enforcement of the law before it goes into effect in July.
Steve DelBianco is on the shameless side. He leads NetChoice, a national trade association representing e-commerce and online businesses.
“Massachusetts has this unique theory of electronic presence,” DelBianco said. “But under that theory, your business is subject to the taxation [and] regulation in any state where a user simply enters your website address. That can’t hold up to legal scrutiny, ’cause it certainly doesn’t hold up to common sense.”
For DelBianco, the only option left is a legal challenge to fight the idea that a cookie on your computer is the same thing as a storefront on Newbury Street. He said his group has sued a number of other states for online sales tax laws and he’s looking at a legal fight in Massachusetts too.
“We’re researching the legal arguments and raising the funds to pursue a lawsuit right now,” DelBianco said. He said it’s “too soon to say when we’ll be ready.”
Technology has given us more freedom to choose the way we work, live, travel, and shop. But many Americans are hitting bureaucratic roadblocks on their way find full-and part-time work with peer-to-peer services like Lyft, Postmates, and Handy. These roadblocks are not just bad for workers, but also for consumers, commerce, and the tax revenue that comes with it.
Some of these roadblocks are intentionally created by incumbents trying to prevent competition. But others are just legacy rules and laws that impede the fast-moving trend of workers moving into more flexible, freelance forms of employment.
Fellow drivers in Seattle are in danger of losing many of the freedoms that make ridesharing so appealing. Drivers no longer would be able to work when, where and how long they want. They could be forced into legally binding agreement that mandate minimum or maximum working hours and limit their shifts to certain days or set times.
While attending the University of Chicago, my dad, like many college students, often stopped by his favorite pizza parlor for some choice deep dish pan pizza. Since then, many of the mom and pop pizza parlors he frequented have migrated online to serve a larger customer base and cut down on brick and mortar expenses. But with the impending passage of SB 1502, these Illinois mainstays of the community might be facing burdensome costs that provide no real benefit to them or their customers.
SB 1502 would require the operator of a commercial website or online service to notify customers anytime information about them is collected or disclosed. This information can be for germane purposes and operational maintenance to reasons related to the nature of the website. Read more
Minnesota state legislators’ push to impose unprecedented sales tax obligations on Internet marketplaces has little support from Minnesotans, according to a new poll jointly released by NetChoice and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).
Only nine percent of Minnesotans think that the current online sales tax collection process needs to change. Yet, leaders of Minnesota’s legislative tax committees continue to promote legislation (HF4 and SF 2225) that would now require out-of-state businesses to collect online sales tax from Minnesotans. Read more
“Union and Constitution.” These words appear on the Great Seal of Colorado and celebrate the ideals enshrined in the Federal Constitution, including the rights of freedom of expression and privacy.
Sadly, in 2010, the Colorado legislature enacted a tax reporting law that assaults those rights. The aptly nicknamed Colorado “tattletale” law requires online and catalog businesses to report to the state Department of Revenue (DOR) Colorado shoppers’ purchases, including the name of the catalog or online store where the shopper made purchases; the shopper’s name and address; and the amount the shopper spent on products or services.
Thankfully the legislature soon will have the opportunity to restore Colorado residents’ privacy rights later this Spring with SB 17-238, which if passed would repeal the tattletale reporting provision. Read more