Opeds

iAWFUL Legislation 2015: Death, Taxes and Trade Secrets

iAWFUL Legislation 2015: Death, Taxes and Trade Secrets

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2015 — They say nothing is life is guaranteed except death and taxes. But now state legislators around the country are trying to open your private communications after you die, turn Internet retailers into tax tattle tales, and force trade secrets to be revealed to unauthorized repair shops.

Many pieces of legislation across the country were worthy of review, but only seven were deemed iAWFUL enough by NetChoice to make the latest version of the association’s ranking of state and federal bills that limit competition, innovation and customer choice. (iAWFUL.com) Read more

Times Union – New York Lawmakers OK Budget Bill But Reject Gov. Cuomo’s Tax Proposals

Times Union – New York Lawmakers OK Budget Bill But Reject Gov. Cuomo’s Tax Proposals (NetChoice Oped)

As the song says about New York, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” But if the state budget includes a new sales tax mandate, online marketplaces may not make it in New York – or anywhere else, for that matter.

Online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay enable small producers and specialty retailers to reach customers across the country who might never visit their factories or stores. From handmade crafts to custom clothing to specialty tools, online marketplaces are empowering small businesses and meeting consumer demand.

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The Hill – Online educational legislation could strand students

The Hill – Online educational legislation could strand students

As a parent I want to protect my son.  I could try and protect him from the world by hiding him on a proverbial “island” devoid of online connectivity.  I would unplug the Internet and take away all the mobile devices.  This would isolate him from potential harms.  At the same time it would deprive him of all the benefits of a connected education and tools that help him grow.  In the end, it’s all about striking the right balance.

Laws protecting students must also seek to strike the same balance between safety and growth – between isolation and discovery.  Unfortunately, the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act (SDPPRA) of 2015 misses this balance.  Through overly proscriptive language, SDPPRA retreads existing law while shackling educational innovation.

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Privacy fears slaying serious conversation

We’ve seen TV shows about ghost hunters and Bigfoot hunters, where they eschew science and fact in favor of fears and fantasy.   That’s understandable, since it’s impossible to have real conversations when some talk about what might exist and others are talking about what does exist.  The same is true for sweeping privacy legislation coming out of the Obama White House. 

This week the White House released its Privacy Bill of Rights — sweeping privacy legislation based mostly on anecdotes and fears instead of evidence and cost-benefit analysis.  By arming the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with incredible new punitive powers, this bill strings CAUTION tape in front of American businesses developing new technologies and business models.

READ more at The Hill

State Legislatures Tone Deaf to Americans’ Desire To Control Personal Privacy After Death

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Eighteen state legislatures are drafting or debating bills that would curtail the ability for Americans to control the privacy of their personal communications when they die – despite the fact that Americans believe their right to privacy does not end when they take their last breath.

According to a new poll* conducted by Zogby Analytics for NetChoice, the vast majority of Americans believe that maintaining the privacy of their electronic communications trumps giving access to family and heirs. Read more

Time for the ECPA to Get an ’80s-Style Remake

The 1980s were a decade to remember. Advancements in the ’80s became the foundation for many of the technologies that have become a part of our daily lives — wireless phones, video game consoles and, of course, the foundations of the Internet. And just like our favorite ’80s TV shows are remade into new movies (such as “Transformers” and “The A-Team”) let’s add a 28-year-old online privacy law deserving of a remake too: the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The ECPA, which was passed in 1986, set standards to restrict government access to private communications. But in the nearly 30 years since, this law has shown it has loopholes that expose some private data of American citizens.

READ MORE AT ROLL CALL

Carl Szabo Speaks on Detroit Channel 4 On Digital Afterlife

Husband loses wife, fights Apple over iPad


video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

More at: Channel 4

NetChoice Statement on White House Privacy Announcement

“We are encouraged by President Obama’s focus to create a national data breach standard that preempts the morass of 46 different state laws. However, such legislation should not include an artificial shot-clock for notification but instead should follow the reasonable time frame in the California law.”

“We are perplexed as to why the President would abandon the NTIA multi-stakeholder privacy process — created and convened by the White House – by introducing new overriding legislation,” said Carl Szabo, privacy counsel for NetChoice. The NTIA process brings together key data security and data privacy stakeholders to create a consensus driven solution. “To create a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that is operationally feasible and has the support of industry and public sector the White House should continue its multi-stakeholder process and avoid undermining it through legislative actions.

“Increased consumer protections and privacy are of the utmost importance to all of us. But we want to make sure that a workable and reasonable solution is put into place to secure the President’s vision of privacy, security, and innovation.”

NETmundial Initiative Lacks Backing, and ICANN Should Not Lead

A fledgling attempt to create a new global Internet governance clearinghouse has run into trouble as leading business and civil organizations said they are not yet prepared to participate in the NETmundial Initiative (NMI) championed by ICANN President Fadi Chehade.

In highlighting that there remain several unanswered questions, the Internet Society (ISOC), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC-BASIS) raised serious concerns about whether NMI, which sought to empanel a council to direct global Internet governance initiatives, was consistent with its core principles of openness and accountability among multiple stakeholders.

READ MORE at CircleID

The Marketplace Fairness Act: Too Close A Call

As you break out your credit cards this holiday season, you might not know how close we came to a law that would have put Internet retailers and their customers at a permanent disadvantage. Luckily, two Congressional leaders protected us from a radical new tax regime for online purchases.

Prior to the November elections, supporters of the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) declared their intent to leverage the unique pressures and chaos of the lame duck session to ram through their increasingly unpopular Internet tax bill.

READ MORE at Forbes

Cruz Takes a Brave Stand on Internet Taxes

Sometimes doing the right thing in Washington means calling your allies out when they’re in the wrong. It’s a brave move for any lawmaker, and one we don’t see often enough in the halls of the Capitol.

That’s why its important to acknowledge Senator Ted Cruz’s brave decision to speak out against shadowy backroom dealings between Democrats and Republicans.  This shadow plan would sneak into law Sen. Reid’s new internet tax burden, the Marketplace Fairness Act, before the new Republican Senate arrives in January.

“There are some voices in Washington who want a lame duck precisely so they can engage in corporate welfare and blame it on the Democrats,” Cruz told National Review Online. Read more

FTC’s Chance for a Big Study of Big Data

Detective Friday would ask for “just the facts.” His pursuit of criminals avoided speculation. When it comes to big data, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes the opposite approach – pursuing theoretical over factual.

In her short speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, FTC Commissioner Brill used the words “may,” “shall,” and “might” over a dozen times when talking about theoretical threats from big data’s misuse. Likewise, FTC Chairman Ramirez’s speech used charged words when describing theoretical misuses – words like, “discrimination”, “unethical” and “illegal.”

What was missing from these speeches? Data to backup the hypothetical. Read more

Should governments get a master key to your smartphone?

Would you allow government agents to hold a key to your house, your alarm code, and access every letter you’ve written?  Americans are used to controlling access to their private property, but last week the FBI called for a new law forcing device makers to give the FBI a master key that unlocks all of our devices.

To protect the online ecosystem and improve trust in transactions, the online industry has been working to secure sites and create end-to-end encryption.   Google and Apple announced new encryption mechanisms on their devices while enabling only users to unlock their phones.  This safeguard for your devices has the FBI worried they won’t get the access they want.

READ MORE at The Hill Read more

A Lame Bill for a Lame Duck: Senate Eyes Sneaky Strategy for Internet Taxes

As a general rule, the less you hear about a particular political strategy, the more you should worry about it. So it’s telling that an effort by the Senate to impose a radical new Internet sales tax regime during this year’s lame-duck session is being planned in secluded Capitol hallways, far from public scrutiny.

We wonder what good, if any, will come from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s, D-Nev., intention to attach the ironically-named Marketplace Fairness Act — a bill that requires online retailers and catalogs to collect and remit sales taxes to nearly 10,000 U.S. tax jurisdictions — to the Internet Tax Freedom Act — a bill that would prevent new taxes on Internet access charges.

READ MORE AT ROLL CALL

Ride-sharing competition has made taxis better

If you’ve ever wondered why your experiences with taxi cabs hasn’t improved much over your lifetime, look no further than former Mayor Rocky Anderson and his perplexing argument to keep ride-sharing competition out of Salt Lake City.

In his Op-ed, Anderson fears that ride-sharing services will drive cabs out of business and leave taxi patrons out in the cold. The argument would be more compelling if it wasn’t completely contradicted by the real-world dynamics of ride sharing.

READ MORE at Salt Lake Tribune

Pulling Back the Shroud of Secrecy on Government Surveillance

We all get that when it comes to government surveillance there has to be secrecy. At the same time there must be some degree of accountability. To achieve this balance we need reasonable transparency – transparency the government is trying to block.

For years online service providers sought reveal more information about government snooping on their users. Providers like Yahoo, Aol, and Google created transparency reports to show the quantity of surveillance requests they were getting. But one component service providers weren’t allowed to share was the number of National Security Letters (NSL) and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests they received from the government. Read more

ICANN in Hollywood: Foreshadowing a Happy Ending?

As we arrived in Hollywood — the land of happy endings — ICANN had just given us cause to hope that the ICANN accountability process might get its own Hollywood ending, despite a fitful start.

As one who’s been critical of ICANN management’s heavy-handed attempts to control the accountability process, it’s only appropriate to give credit where credit is due. In accepting the community’s strenuous — and nearly unanimous — calls for a cross-community working group to lead the process of improving ICANN’s accountability mechanisms, ICANN management says it’s now prepared to follow the community’s lead, rather than dictating and constraining it.

READ MORE AT CIRCLE ID

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No Easy Answer For Enforcing The European “Right To Be Forgotten”

The European Court of Justice’s “Right to be Forgotten” ruling upsets a foundational principle regarding openness of the Internet – it has always been viewed as a platform to express one’s opinion and access information.  This ruling converts websites from intermediaries into censors, forcing them to balance Europeans’ right to information against individuals’ demands to suppress lawfully published information about them.

The European court gave little practical guidance on how search services should strike this balance.  So Google, the first Internet business to be targeted by the ruling, created a panel of legal, policy, and technological experts to address the challenge.

READ MORE at Forbes

Overstock Calls Out Problems with Senate Internet Tax Bill

Today, NetChoice member Overstock penned an op-ed in Roll Call laying out the fundamental flaws with the Senate’s Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA).  In his Roll Call post, Overstock Chairman Jonathan Johnson reiterated his call that any federal bill must include a complete preemption of state law — the federal solution is the only way to allow state tax collectors to reach beyond their borders.  Of course the Senate’s bill does nothing to preempt states.

But lack of state preemption isn’t the only problem Johnson cited with MFA. Read more