Opeds

Halt ticket scams

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.

READ MORE at Times-Tribune

Keeping self-driving cars off the road is costing American lives

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.

READ MORE at Hill

DOJ is not wielding its power to bring down online sex trafficking

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..

READ MORE at The Hill

Small Business Radio – Debating the merits of not taxing Internet sales

Small Business Radio – Debating the merits of not taxing Internet sales

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

“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.

The Amazon Acquisition of Whole Foods Is Huge…for 2% of America

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.

READ MORE at Morning Consult

Act now on No Regulation Without Representation

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.

READ MORE at The Hill

KGO 810 Radio – Consumers Are Being Scammed Into Paying Too Much For Bad Seats To Summer’s Hottest Concerts

KGO 810 Radio – Consumers Are Being Scammed Into Paying Too Much For Bad Seats To Summer’s Hottest Concerts

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Retailers built too many stores and the bubble is bursting

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.

READ MORE at DigitalCommerce

It would be a mistake for Congress to prohibit targeted advertising online

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

NPR – Massachusetts tries something new to claim taxes from online sales

NPR All Things Considered – Massachusetts tries something new to claim taxes from online sales

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.

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Also at:

WBUR – Mass. Will Collect Sales Taxes On Online Purchases July 1 (If There’s Not A Legal Fight First)

WBUR – Mass. Will Collect Sales Taxes On Online Purchases July 1 (If There’s Not A Legal Fight First)

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.”

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The regulatory landscape facing ride-share drivers

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.

READ More at Capitol Weekly

Seattle shouldn’t try to force unions on Uber, Lyft drivers

As a father with two kids and full-time job, I love the fact that I can choose when and where I want to drive for Lyft. But an ordinance in Seattle could change the face of ridesharing as we know it. And not just for the Emerald City, but for the entire nation.

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.

READ More at The Hill

Illinois Legislation Hammers Small Businesses

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

Minnesotans Do Not Support Online Marketplace Tax Proposal, New Study from NetChoice and Americans for Tax Reform Finds

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

Repealing Colorado’s Tattletale Law: An Opportunity to Restore Coloradans’ Privacy

“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

Merriweather Memories: Why I support a Ticket Rights Resale Act in MD

I have many fond memories of growing up in my hometown of Columbia MD – several of them are of the times I had with friends and family at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. I remember using the money I earned from delivering the Columbia Flyer to buy tickets to its concerts. I remember my Wilde Lake High School wrestling team providing security for its events. I remember seeing the Symphony of Lights and my high school graduation ceremony at Merriweather.   

To me, these types of experiences are the cornerstone of so many positive memories, which is why I am saddened that companies like Ticketmaster are increasingly using ticket restrictions and inconveniencing fans. 

READ MORE at Center Maryland

Accounting Today – The future of online sales tax: What if they fail to kill Quill?

Accounting Today – The future of online sales tax: What if they fail to kill Quill?

Steve DelBianco, executive director at NetChoice, said there are three scenarios in a “keep Quill” landscape:

  • States will claim that Quill doesn’t apply to specific taxes, such as Ohio’s commercial activity tax and Washington’s gross receipts tax. In November 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to extend Quill to the state’s business privilege tax. A petition requesting the high court’s review is expected in April.
  • States will continue to enact legislation that aren’t “kill Quill” laws, but are “creative extensions of nexus” to “withstand the physical presence” rule — such as affiliate, click-through and marketplace provider regimes. While those regimes recognize physical presence as the rule, they define physical presence as including a relationship with an in-state entity that has physical presence.
  • States will pursue “tattletale reporting tactics,” such as the Colorado and Louisiana laws that mandate non-collecting remote vendors to report consumers’ purchases to the state.

“Goodlatte’s bill confirms the physical presence standard with specificity, and then goes on to open the door to a multistate compact that allows home state enforcement on remote sales,” DelBianco said, adding that “the beauty of the congressional approach, of either Sensenbrenner or Goodlatte, is they in fact would stop the madness of all these state bills.”

DelBianco noted that Amazon’s business model has led to its expansion into more states to provide faster fulfillment. Likewise, competition over customer service and rapid shipping will encourage other retailers to expand their physical footprint, thus triggering collection obligations in more locations.

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