Opeds

Going Beyond Regulatory Authority – It’s in the FTC’s Nature

Outside the FTC stands a statue of a wild horse being restrained. I always thought the horse represented industry being restrained by the FTC. But now I wonder if the wild horse is really the FTC trying to constantly break free from its statutory limitations.

Why does the FTC want to break free? Because it’s in their nature. Read more

Paying the Price to Protect User Privacy

Internet companies know they need to invest in privacy, but they couldn’t have predicted that they’d go broke protecting it.

Earlier this week Yahoo pushed back hard against a recently passed Delaware law that requires Internet companies to turn over users’ emails to estate attorneys – even when those users wanted their emails deleted when they died.

Yahoo appears resigned to eat sizable fines rather than go against users’ wishes regarding the privacy of their mail and other accounts. It’s a noble stand, but one only necessitated by a truly bad law that unfortunately appears poised to go viral in several states next year. Read more

A Missed Opportunity For a Real Conversation About Big Data

If you only build one leg of a three-legged stool, it’s going to fall.  Yesterday’s FTC Big Data conference confirmed this by focusing mostly on the potential for future harms of big data and missing an important opportunity to deep-dive on whether big data is causing real harms, and whether any of those harms — to the extent they exist — fall outside of the scope of existing laws.

It certainly had the chance to build a stable platform for discussion. Chairwoman Ramirez opened the workshop by setting out three goals:

  1. Identify where data practices violate existing law and identify gaps in current law
  2. Build awareness of possible discriminatory practices.
  3. Encourage businesses to guard against bias

Unfortunately most panels focused only on the second – “possible” discriminatory practices, contrived Orwellian futures, and then ignored the rest of the conversation. Read more

Coalition Letter in Favor of a Permanent Internet Tax Moratorium

Dear Senators,

On behalf of the undersigned, we encourage you to pass a clean permanent extension of the Internet Tax Moratorium, and commend the House of Representatives on passage of H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA).

Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have introduced S. 1432, the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act (ITFFA), which mirrors the House language.  Both ITFFA and PITFA reauthorize and make permanent legislation that has been U.S. national policy since 1998. The clean Internet access tax moratorium overwhelmingly passed the House, and similarly a clean ITFFA will easily pass the Senate, and again protect unfettered access to Internet connections. Read more

Internet Sales Tax Scheme the Easy Choice For Worst Internet Legislation

When we meet twice a year to put together the Internet Advocates’ Watchlist for Ugly Laws (iAWFUL), we’re looking at two key factors: the relative awfulness of the bill or law and it’s likelihood of taking effect.  It’s rare that one measure tops both categories, but for the August 2014 list, the choosing the worst of the worst was morbidly simple.

The ironically titled Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) has been a fixture on the iAWFUL since we first introduced the list – thanks to the unique burdens it seeks to impose on Internet sellers and customers.  But as bad as MFA is, the awfulness of the bill has always been tempered by our confidence that right-thinking lawmakers wouldn’t allow it to pass in its current, fatally flawed form.  Read more

Innovation in the Crosshairs as California Again Targets Ride-Sharing

Imagine if the Florida legislature spent the past 18 months cracking down on orange growers, or if Vermont imposed tough restrictions on maple syrup makers. If those scenarios seem strangely self-destructive, then you have a good sense of how ridiculous California’s growing hostility towards the Internet innovation economy seems to us.

If we didn’t know better, we’d have to assume that California lawmakers want to extinguish the innovative industry that makes the state the envy of the world in the Internet era. Read more

Spain cuts the fabric of the Internet with its new tax

The Internet is a collection of different sites interwoven together through “links.”  Now imagine an Internet without links.  Can’t do it, can you?  That’s because the web depends on interconnectivity of content – it is the thread that makes up the fabric of the internet.  But some aggressive European countries seeking to wangle in and wrangle money from the online world want to limit online links. 

We all know about the new European requirement for search engines to remove links – but now Spain wants search engines to pay for just displaying links.

READ MORE at The Hill

Death and Social Media: Don’t Strip Delaware Citizens of their Privacy

bill awaiting Governor Markell’s signature would override your privacy choices about what happens to your online accounts when you die.

Lawmakers across the country are increasingly confronting the question of what happens to Americans’ digital lives when they die. It’s a question worth careful consideration. Unfortunately for Delaware internet users, lawmakers in Dover have reached the wrong answer.

The Delaware legislation forces your email providers and online services to expose our personal communications when we die.  For many of us this is no big deal.  But consider the personal, sensitive, and confidential communications of spouses, doctors, psychiatrists, or addiction counselors. Read more

The Real Motivation Behind the Attack on Ride Sharing

While ride-sharing technologies, such as Uber and Lyft, are creating never-before-achieved efficiencies in transportation, not everyone is celebrating those achievements.

Some have taken the rise of sharing-economy business models as a signal to retrench, protect the status quo, stifle innovation and, in some cases, turn a tidy profit by cracking down on ride-sharing services in state legislatures and insurance commissions.

Fortunately, members of the national media are increasingly savvy to this tactic and what drives it. This week, Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle shed some light on the real motivation for this attack on the ground-breaking technology: Read more

AEI Panel: Who governs the Internet? A conversation on securing the multistakeholder process

View Steve DelBianco panel at 1:16

More at AEI

Arkansas Governor and AG’s Photography Law Out-of-Sync with Their Priorities

Over the past several years, law enforcement has utilized new cutting-edge technologies to apprehend the most violent of criminals – murders, rapists and abductors. One such innovation, known as license plate recognition (LPR), takes photographs of license plates and logs their time and location, creating a searchable database that has allowed police to reduce investigation times and get felons off the streets.

However, a new law recently signed by Governor Mike Beebe, could put an end to LPR use in Arkansas, hamstringing law enforcement by limiting the use of a critical crime-fighting tool that helped solve thousands of violent crime cases across the country.

READ MORE at North Little Rock Times

Want to Make a Difference in Internet Governance? Just Show Up

It was 20 years earlier than ICANN, and 25 years ahead of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) that Woody Allen said “80 percent of life is just showing up,” but he could have just as easily been talking about our current multistakeholder policy situation.

The emergence of powerful multistakeholder governance and engagement models has fundamentally changed the way we do Internet policy, and the roles that companies, organizations and individuals play in the process. The days when business, for instance, could sit on the sidelines and intercede only when policy reached an inflection point, are long gone.

To succeed in today’s landscape, industry has to show up early, often, and in force. The IGF-USA takes place in Washington DC July 16th, and my message to business colleagues can be described in two words: Show up.

READ MORE

Insurers win, consumers lose in California ridesharing crackdown

Insurers win, consumers lose in California ridesharing crackdown

Ridesharing companies and their customers are the newest target of California’s bizarre crusade to crack down on Internet-powered businesses (“Risky business behind wheel of new economy”; Forum, June 22). This time, regulators are getting help from deep-pocketed insurers and personal injury lawyers who look at the sharing economy and see dollar signs.

The ostensible target of this latest misadventure: something called an “insurance gap” when consumers get a ride with a Lyft or Uber driver instead of a taxicab.

READ MORE

Another View: Insurers win, consumers lose in California ridesharing crackdown

Ridesharing companies and their customers are the newest target of California’s bizarre crusade to crack down on Internet-powered businesses (“Risky business behind wheel of new economy”; Forum, June 22). This time, regulators are getting help from deep-pocketed insurers and personal injury lawyers who look at the sharing economy and see dollar signs.

The ostensible target of this latest misadventure: something called an “insurance gap” when consumers get a ride with a Lyft or Uber driver instead of a taxicab.

READ MORE at Sacramento Bee

Making ICANN History in the Shadow of the Magna Carta

Making ICANN History in the Shadow of the Magna Carta

Two miles (and a short Tube ride) from where ICANN is gathering in London, rests an original copy of the Magna Carta, which introduced the concept of imposing limits on the powers of the king. I’m taking the proximity of this icon of constitutional history as a good omen for our task: to create a charter to limit ICANN’s powers and enhance its accountability, in the wake of the U.S. Government’s decision to terminate its legacy role.

ICANN management has only recently — and reluctantly — acknowledged the need for enhanced accountability mechanisms to replace the leverage the US government wields through its ability to withhold the IANA contract from ICANN’s custody. It now falls to the broader Internet community to create a permanent mechanism by which to review (and potentially reverse) actions of the ICANN the corporation.

READ MORE at CircleID

Using the Internet to erase history

Using the Internet to erase history

The day Google opened its online submission process to comply with the European “right to be forgotten” ruling, the company received 12,000 requests – one every seven seconds – from users demanding that information be pulled from search results.

The cost of ignoring those requests, or getting them “wrong” in the eyes of the EU courts? Google could face fines of a billion dollars per incident. In the European Union, the process of whitewashing history is underway.

With the ruling, the court is forcing Google to perform the impossible balancing act between the newly invented “right” be forgotten and the Internet’s unique power to preserve, contextualize, and disseminate information.

READ MORE