Press

NetChoice Voices Concerns with Dept. of Interior Restrictions on Drone Usage

Today, NetChoice voiced concerns with plans released by the Department of the Interior to formally ban non-emergency use of foreign-made drones.

“Drone restrictions based on nationality rather than security standards won’t protect our nation from cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Discrimination against foreign-made drones means our country won’t have access to the best technologies,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“What we really need are cybersecurity standards for drones that apply to all manufacturers, enabling greater competition and security.”

The House Democrat Taking On Silicon Valley

Politico

“You can’t just ignore facts that don’t prove your presupposed conclusions. That’s not how ‘investigations’ work,” says Carl Szabo. “Especially from the Judiciary Committee? We should be better than that.”

On a warm Friday in October, sun streamed in the window of Szabo’s K Street offices, decorated with thick books on telecommunications law, a LEGO R2-D2 and framed mock patent applications of heavy machinery from the “Star Wars” universe. Szabo is the outspoken vice president and top lawyer for Silicon Valley’s most aggressivelobbying presence in Washington: a group called NetChoice, which counts Facebook and Google among its members.

Szabo’s job is to say what the tech companies don’t want to be seen saying themselves, which, in this case, is that Cicilline is unfairly targeting them. That he isn’t after going after bad corporate behavior but simply taking scalps from some of the highest profile companies in the world. That, despite his declarations that he is keeping an open mind, the result of his investigation is a foregone conclusion. Cicilline, the argument goes, is convinced there’s no competition left in the tech industry. Says Szabo, ever heard of TikTok?

Cicilline’s investigation won’t add up to much of anything, Szabo insists, because there’s no there there. The worry, though, is that he adds his powerful voice to the “cacophony of people complaining about technology”—many of whom, Szabo argues, are motivated, somewhat perversely, by the desire to get their name in headlines smack up against mentions of Facebook, Google and the rest. “I think the whole reason we’re even talking about these groups is because of SEO,” or search engine optimization, Szabo said.

Senate impasse on Huawei

Politico Morning Tech

2020 tech watchers are still reeling, meanwhile, from surprise support from Democratic front-runner Joe Biden for nixing the online liability protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Tech trade group NetChoice rushed to slam Biden’s comments, saying that scrapping the prized provision “would prevent online services from effectively curating content created by users, meaning Biden’s proposal would accomplish the complete opposite of its goal.”

Truth and lies: Social media political ads

Carl Szabo is with the internet industry trade group, Net Choice.  

“Senator Warren has said her health care plan will not increase taxes on the middle class. Many studies have said this is impossible. President Trump announced the border wall will be paid for entirely by Mexico. Should those types of statements be removed?” Szabo said. 

Szabo says social media companies usually defer to free speech on their platforms and oppose legislation to put limits on political ads.

“Allow the voters to be the ones to decide whether a statement is true or false,” Szabo said.

Szabo says as the 2020 campaign approaches, he expects calls to regulate political ads to get louder.

A Tech Stakeholder Group Is Solidifying Its Presence in the Scooter Regulatory Arena

Morning Consult

NetChoice eyes restrictive markets for advocacy work as it releases new e-scooter guidelines.

After publishing its first white paper examining regulations of dockless e-scooters, a Washington e-commerce group representing the likes of Google, Lyft Inc. and Airbnb Inc. said it expects to lean more into micromobility issues in 2020.

NetChoice, which also includes e-scooter company Lime among its members, will release its guidelines Tuesday on how city officials should approach e-scooters, including proposals related to scooter curfews, speed limits and geofencing. The proposal makes NetChoice one of the few Washington tech groups focusing on a space typically saturated by transportation advocacy groups and city officials.

California lawmakers push for data privacy protection

Nexstar

Carl Szabo, the vice president of NetChoice, said stricter rules on data collection could hurt online business and consumers.  “We’re seeing a fracturing of the internet,” Szabo said. “There are going to be unintended consequences. People are going to see an increase in prices, or fewer offerings of stuff they really enjoy having.”

Even so, Szabo said Congress should act to make privacy laws consistent nationwide.

Short-term rental ‘avengers’ seek fair regulation with new playbook

Shorttermrentalz.com

NetChoice president Steve DelBianco said: “If homeowners want to host paying guests, they need to understand concerns raised by neighbours and local government officials, and be ready to respond with real data and smart policy solutions. That’s why this playbook is an indispensable resource.”

Streamlined Tax Pact OKs Nonmember Participation Model Bill

Law360

The model statute would require states to identify where their tax codes deviate from the agreement. However, Steve DelBianco, president of the online business trade group NetChoice, told Law360 that he didn’t believe the measure went far enough to satisfy the full Streamlined agreement that the justices referred to in Wayfair.

“This new model bill falls well short of the real [agreement] since it lets any new state simply explain how it ‘deviates from those requirements,’” DelBianco said.

Nonmember states, he said, “should have no illusions that this model bill puts them in full conformance with Wayfair.”

Deepfakes And Beyond: Who Wins If Social Media Platforms Are Regulated?

Forbes

Conservatives fixated on social media bias are reluctant to appreciate the immeasurable benefit they receive from Section 230. It was never a subsidy to anyone; it applied equally to all (publishers like newspapers get to have websites too). Even if biases on the part of some platforms are deemed valid (in an elemental sense, bias should not be denied and big tech needs to defend it), there is no precedent for the reach conservatives enjoy now. Those who complain of bias on YouTube, for example, pay nothing for the hosting that can reach millions, and stand to profit instead. Some do get “deplatformed,” of course; but if improperly so, that may be a violation of terms by the host resolvable in ways other than altering Sec. 230 with a sledgehammer.

Ring Hacking Lawsuit Boosts Amazon Security Device Scrutiny

Bloomberg Law

However, Orange may have a hard time achieving standing to sue because he fails to allege specific harm, Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, said. “There isn’t a single actual harm identified,” Szabo said.

Most Voters Say Congress Should Make Privacy Legislation a Priority Next Year

Morning Consult

While it’s predicted that few federal legislative items will move in 2020 because of ongoing impeachment proceedings and the U.S. presidential election, Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of industry group NetChoice, said he expects the election to “help move this forward” anyway.

“Once everyone realizes the unconstitutional nature of a lot of these state privacy laws, and the conflicts between them, lawmakers are going to run on a platform that provides consistent privacy protections for all Americans,” said Szabo, whose group advocates for the pre-emption of state laws. 

Szabo also predicts someone filing a preliminary injunction that would prevent the CCPA from being enacted Jan. 1, which would “spur congressional activity,” leaving Congress with a clean slate to determine privacy protections. 

NetChoice Voices Support for the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act

Today, NetChoice voiced support for the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act, introduced by Sens. Warren (D-MA) and Wyden (D-OR) and by Reps. Khanna (D-CA) and Lee (D-CA). The Act would trigger an investigation into the unintended consequences of SESTA/FOSTA.

SESTA/FOSTA amended Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and undermined sensible limits on liability for online services that host user-created content.

“SESTA/FOSTA has harmed vulnerable women across the country, the very community it was crafted to help,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “SESTA/FOSTA is the first and only amendment to Section 230, so Congress must understand how much damage SESTA/FOSTA caused before it considers further amendments to Section 230.”

Top 5 Tech Policy Predictions for 2020

Morning Consult

But Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of industry group NetChoice, which typically doesn’t support antitrust actions against large tech companies, sees the continued interest in antitrust as more of a political tool, saying that once someone pulls back the layers of an argument for breaking up big tech companies, there’s nothing substantial there. 

“Once you take more than a knee-jerk analysis of the digital landscape, you realize that there are a lot of competitors out there, that choice is robust and there is no consumer harm,” he said.

Rand Paul vs. Google and Facebook

National Review

Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, a trade association whose members include Google and Facebook, panned the bill as a “special handout” to the news industry and argued that the legislation, despite its intent, could still leave smaller newspapers “out in the cold.”

“What’s concerning about legislation like this is it’s pretty much designed to empower large newspaper conglomerates to circumvent existing anti-trust law,” Szabo tells National Review. “Today, businesses regardless of what industry they’re in are subject to the same rules when it comes to concerns about size and anti-trust. This [bill] is giving a special handout to the news industry, and it’s hard to argue that Rupert Murdoch needs yet another handout.”

Although the 500-word bill states that the negotiations that news companies engage in with Google and Facebook must “pertain to terms that would be available to all news content creators,” Szabo suggested it could still benefit big papers over small ones: “Let’s presume I’m an online company [such as Google or Facebook], and I have to cut this nice sweetheart deal because the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the LA Times have decided to get together and hard bargain negotiated rates. Let’s say the Kansas City Tribune [sic] wants to enjoy that. The online service provider might say, ‘Look, I won’t carry your content because it’s just not going to be worth it to me.’”

Meet the scholar who recognized ‘surveillance capitalism’

New Paper 24

Not everybody agrees with the Zuboff prescription, to place it mildly. Vice President Carl Szabo of the e-commerce commerce group NetChoice, whose members embody Fb and Google, mentioned her e-book “paints a typical dystopian image of expertise, dismissing the exceptional advantages of on-line platforms and information evaluation.”

The Technology 202: Facebook defends encryption push as lawmakers raise child exploitation concerns

Washington Post

“It is unfortunate that the Sect. 230 language was not taken out,” Rick Lane, a longtime technology policy adviser who has supported overhauling Section 230 told me. “But at least for those of us who believe that changes to CDA Sect. 230 are necessary can take solace in knowing that organizations like CTA and NetChoice have stated unequivocally that inclusion of Section 230 language in trade agreements does not stop the [United States] from changing the law in the future should it choose to do so.”

Tech world’s USMCA win

Politico Morning Tech

The Internet Association, Information Technology Industry Council, Semiconductor Industry Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association, BSA | The Software Alliance, the Computing Technology Industry Association, the Consumer Technology Association, NetChoice and TechNet were among the many (many!) industry groups to praise the agreement Tuesday. Amazon also applauded the deal, tweeting that it “breaks new ground on digital trade and cuts red tape for Amazon customers and sellers.”

NetChoice Praises the Advancing of USMCA

Today, NetChoice reiterated support for the USMCA and pushed the U.S. House of Representatives to pass it.

“USMCA will empower America’s tech industry to compete on the world stage, at a time when international competition is fierce,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“USMCA is a trade agreement well suited for the digital age. USMCA is a template to ensure future trade agreements stand the test of time.” 

NetChoice Praises Section 230 Language Included in USMCA

Today, NetChoice reiterated support for the inclusion of Section 230 language in President Trump’s North American trade agreement, USMCA.

“Speaker Pelosi fights on behalf of vulnerable communities, yet it is these very communities throughout North America that benefit most from access to social media and online marketplaces,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“The inclusion of Section 230 language in the USMCA is a win-win for all signatories. Consumers gain access to an abundance of online content, and businesses can connect directly to customers using e-commerce marketplaces and social media marketing.”

NetChoice has also published a piece titled “Section 230 Should be in Our Trade Agreements. Here’s Why.” which covers the various reasons that inclusion of digital intermediary liability protections are vital for modern trade agreements. 

Pelosi Reportedly Wants To Strip Online Free Speech Protections From Trade Deal

Reason Magazine

“The inclusion of Section 230 language in the USMCA is a win-win for all signatories,” says Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, an advocacy group that favors the inclusion of online liability protections in trade deals. “Consumers gain access to an abundance of online content, and businesses can connect directly to customers using e-commerce marketplaces and social media marketing.”

ATI speakers address tax incentives, business attraction

Idaho Press

O’Cooper was followed by Steve DelBianco of NetChoice, a trade association, who is pushing for a tax incentive for data centers. “They deserve the same tax treatment that you’ve always allowed under the production equipment that goes into mining, ranching and farming,” he said. He contended that extending Idaho’s production exemption from sales taxes to billion-dollar data centers “costs you nothing” because no major data centers have located in the state thus far. Contradicting the previous speaker, he said, “Absent these exemptions, these hyper-scale data centers will not come to Idaho. … If Idaho does not offer it, these businesses will very likely locate elsewhere.”

NetChoice Commends Sen. Wicker’s Draft Privacy Legislation

“This draft bill is a solid compromise between businesses and privacy advocates,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice. “By eliminating a patchwork of differing and potentially conflicting state laws Sen. Wicker’s bill protects citizens’ privacy while helping America’s small businesses.”

“While there are parts of the bill that should be improved before it becomes law, Sen. Wicker’s bill presents the best opportunity to turn years of congressional debate on privacy into action.”

“Like GDPR, this bill applies privacy laws to all data collectors — aiding privacy and security across the board. Unlike CCPA, Sen. Wicker’s bill is more comprehensive and doesn’t have carve outs for special interests.”

NetChoice Applauds the USTR Action Against French Digital Services Tax

Today NetChoice applauded the US Trade Representative’s threatened imposition of tariffs of up to $2.4 billion on French goods in response to France’s taxation of the digital services performed by American businesses.

“The administration saw France’s taxes for the trade barriers they are and the US responded in kind,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.  “The administration took important steps to stand against foreign trade barriers and protect America’s technological innovations.”  

“France shouldn’t be surprised by this response to its illegal tax on American businesses,” continued DelBianco.

“France’s digital taxes stank and the administration’s response was right on the nose,” said DelBianco.

The U.K.’s Facebook-fueled sprint to election day

Politico Morning Tech

NetChoice President Steve DelBianco called the new taxes “a desperate bid to help French companies compete,” he said. “Just a month after President Macron promised to grow France’s flailing tech industry, his government imposed these taxes to knee-cap American competitors.”

NetChoice Applauds the USTR Investigation of France’s Digital Services Tax

Today NetChoice applauded the US Trade Representative for investigating and considering action against the French Digital Services Tax (DST), which would impose a 3% tax on gross revenue from businesses with annual revenue of $830 million globally. 

“In a desperate bid to help French companies compete, France designed new taxes to penalize America’s online leaders,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“France flaunted OECD policies when it imposed this discriminatory new tax,” continued DelBianco.  “Just a month after President Macron promised to grow France’s flailing tech industry, his government imposed these taxes to knee-cap American competitors.”

“The USTR is standing-up for American businesses by investigating France’s discriminatory tax. Our government needs to show foreign powers that they will pay a price for targeting America’s online leaders for discriminatory taxes.”

“The DST is doubly discriminatory, by targeting American online business while steering clear of most French companies and sparing ad revenue earned by broadcast and print media.”

NetChoice Applauds the USTR Investigation of France’s Digital Services Tax

Today NetChoice applauded the US Trade Representative for investigating and considering action against the French Digital Services Tax (DST), which would impose a 3% tax on gross revenue from businesses with annual revenue of $830 million globally. 

“In a desperate bid to help French companies compete, France designed new taxes to penalize America’s online leaders,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“France flaunted OECD policies when it imposed this discriminatory new tax,” continued DelBianco.  “Just a month after President Macron promised to grow France’s flailing tech industry, his government imposed these taxes to knee-cap American competitors.”

“The USTR is standing-up for American businesses by investigating France’s discriminatory tax. Our government needs to show foreign powers that they will pay a price for targeting America’s online leaders for discriminatory taxes.”

“The DST is doubly discriminatory, by targeting American online business while steering clear of most French companies and sparing ad revenue earned by broadcast and print media.”

NetChoice Raises Concerns with the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act

Today, NetChoice raised concerns with the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act introduced by Sen. Cantwell. The bill creates a private right of action with statutory damages, harms America’s mid-size businesses, and fails to provide a comprehensive privacy law for the country.

“America’s mid-size businesses face a Sophie’s choice about whether to live with today’s patchwork of state privacy laws, or support this bill that would unleash a tsunami of class action lawsuits,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President & General Counsel for NetChoice.

“The “right to delete” rules in this bill would help bad actors hide their past transgressions, as some have done using Europe’s “Right To Be Forgotten.” Of the total removal requests made using that law in the UK and Ireland, 31% were related to frauds and scams, 20% were violent or serious criminal arrests, and 12% were child pornography arrests.”

“Far from being comprehensive about consumer privacy, this bill does not apply to personal data collected by non-profits, banks, and healthcare providers.”

Democratic Privacy Bill Allows Lawsuits Over Data Violations (1)

Bloomberg Government

“This bill is creating a ‘Sophie’s Choice’ for America’s mid-sized businesses,” said Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, a right-leaning tech trade association that counts Alphabet Inc.‘s Google and Facebook as members. “Do they want a patchwork of state laws or a tsunami of class action lawsuits?”

Szabo’s group has been among those looking to congressional legislation to overrule state laws.

“There’s no point in doing a federal privacy bill unless it creates a standard, nationwide law and eliminates the patchwork problem,” Szabo said. “We don’t need a 51st privacy law.”

NetChoice Applauds the Announcement of an Investigation Into Failures in The Concert Ticket Market

Ten years ago, the Department of Justice approved the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation via a 10-year consent decree that expires in 2020. This approved vertical merger allowed the dominant ticketing platform to merge with the largest promoter of concerts but we are now seeing how this dominance is being abused to harm consumers.

“Since the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger approval, Ticketmaster grew to dominate the primary ticket sales market, obtaining a 70-80% market share,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Investigations have found sizeable holdbacks of tickets from public sales allowing Ticketmaster to abuse its market position to unfairly raise prices for fans.”

“Ticketmaster, not content with dominating the primary ticket sales market is using its market power to monopolize the ticket resale market too,” continued Szabo. “Ticketmaster is trying to force consumers to giveaway or sell tickets only through Ticketmaster’s own platform so Ticketmaster can collect yet another service fee.”

“The DOJ must engage in a deep review of anti-competitive practices by Ticketmaster and make the concert ticket market serve consumers once again.”

Bokhari: Google’s Swamp Creatures Take Aim at Josh Hawley’s Big Tech Bill

Breitbart

This argument is one of the top lines NetChoice, a D.C-based, conservative-focused lobby group that counts Google, Facebook, and Twitter among its clients.  In January, NetChoice VP Carl Szabo testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about why online platforms shouldn’t be subject to antitrust investigations — and the Fairness Doctrine comparison was at the forefront of his argument.

Tik Tok Boosts U.S. Lobbying Amid New Censorship Claims

China Digital Times

ByteDance has tried to build its relationships in Washington amid the growing scrutiny. TikTok has joined NetChoice, a trade association that has been aggressive in pushing back on critics of tech companies. One of Bytedance’s own staff members registered to lobby for the company this summer. The company also hired the powerful corporate law firm Covington & Burling — whose clients include Facebook, among others — to advocate on its behalf.

NetChoice Response to Andrew Yang’s Tech Proposals

Today, Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang released a slew of tech proposals, covering four main issues:

  • Privacy and Consumer Data
  • The Use of Technology, Especially by Young People
  • Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
  • Antitrust Enforcement and Tech

Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice pushed back on Yang’s proposals:

Privacy and Consumer Data

“The current online advertising model enables consumers to access high quality content and sophisticated services for free. Yang’s policy would create more paywalls around content and diminish the presence of free services.”

“On Yang’s internet we will have more paywalls and less content.”

“Americans support the current market structure. By a 3-to-1 margin Americans prefer online services to be funded by targeted advertising rather than paying for them directly.”

The Use of Technology, Especially by Young People

“The surge in access to technology and the internet in the 21st Century benefits us all every day – that’s why tech is so prevalent in society today.”

“For a candidate who claims to focus on “evidence-based policy,” Yang’s most outlandish claims lack evidence.”

“Rather than proposing knee-jerk policy responses to perceived problems, Yang should wait for more evidence on tech’s impact on children and not ignore a recent study that found no link between social media usage and negative impacts on mental health in teens.”

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

“We must dispel with this myth that because online services moderate user-created content, they are equivalent to the New York Times or the Washington Post. Unlike the journalists at the New York Times or Washington Post, Facebook doesn’t write posts and Twitter doesn’t write tweets — users do.

“The New York Times and the Washington Post’s comment section benefits from the same legal structure and protections as social media businesses.”

“Social media services moderate content to reduce the presence of hate speech, scams, and spam. Yang’s proposal to amend Section 230 would likely increase the amount of hate speech and terrorist content online.”

“Yang incorrectly claims a “publisher vs. platform grey area.” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not categorize online services. Section 230 enables services that host user-created content to remove content without assuming liability.”

Antitrust Enforcement and Tech

“We welcome Yang’s recognition that breaking up tech businesses wouldn’t benefit consumers. The role of antitrust and regulation in the U.S. is to protect consumers, not competitors of successful businesses.”

Andrew Yang Proposes Making Social Media Algorithms Subject to Federal Approval

Reason Magazine

“Social media services moderate content to reduce the presence of hate speech, scams, and spam,” Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at the trade organization NetChoice, said in a statement. “Yang’s proposal to amend Section 230 would likely increase the amount of hate speech and terrorist content online.”

It’s possible that Yang misunderstands the very core of the law. “We must address once and for all the publisher vs. platform grey area that tech companies have lived in for years,” he writes. But that dichotomy is a fiction.

“Yang incorrectly claims a ‘publisher vs. platform grey area.’ Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not categorize online services,” Szabo says. “Section 230 enables services that host user-created content to remove content without assuming liability.”

Yang Proposes Tax on Digital Ads in Swipe at Facebook, Google

Bloomberg

NetChoice, a lobbying group that counts Facebook and Google as members, criticized Yang’s proposal.

“The current online advertising model enables consumers to access high quality content and sophisticated services for free,” NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo said in a statement. “Yang’s policy would create more paywalls around content and diminish the presence of free services.”

Joe Biden Has Officially Joined the Misguided Crusade Against Online Free Speech

Reason Magazine

“Holding Facebook liable for a user’s false statement is like holding CNN liable if candidate Biden made a false statement on their Town Hall last night,” says Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, a nonprofit that favors digital free speech.

NetChoice Criticizes Candidate Biden’s Call to Hold Online Platforms Liable for False Statements by Users

Today, NetChoice criticized the problematic statement made by presidential candidate Joe Biden last night that platforms should be responsible for false posts by their users.

“Candidate Joe Biden suggests we should suppress free speech and make Facebook and Google the arbiters of truth,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“Holding Facebook liable for a user’s false statement is like holding CNN liable if candidate Biden made a false statement on their Town Hall last night.”

“I wonder if Biden thinks TV stations and newspapers should be liable for false claims in political ads they are paid to show, especially since these mediums are the majority of political ad spending.”

Judge to PragerU: You Do Not Have a Free Speech Claim Against YouTube

Reason Magazine

Prager’s First Amendment claims come amid the nonprofit’s repeated assertion that Google is biased against conservative groups. But as Robert Winterton of the trade association NetChoice points out, the tech giant restricts videos by left-leaning organizations too—and often more than Prager’s 20 percent. Fifty-four percent of The Daily Show‘s videos are hidden, as is 71 percent of content from The Young Turks.

NetChoice Raises Concerns with The Filter Bubble Transparency Act


Yesterday, Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), unveiled The Filter Bubble Transparency Act. It’s a law that would force large websites to notify users if algorithms determine the order or origin of content the user sees. The bill would also mandate that these online services provide an alternative unsorted version of their news feeds.

“This bill would undermine efforts by platforms to stop the spread of hate speech, misinformation, and other harmful news and views — just as we’re going into an election year,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel at NetChoice. “This bill could reverse progress made by platforms in response to concerns about online misinformation during our last election.”

“Algorithms are the latest boogey-man for tech critics, but algorithms are how websites determine the origin and order of content shown to users, based on interests shown by that user and others they may friend and follow.”

“Congress should let tech businesses determine how to best serve their users.”

TikTok Said to Be Under National Security Review

The New York Times

ByteDance has tried to build its relationships in Washington amid the growing scrutiny. TikTok has joined NetChoice, a trade association that has been aggressive in pushing back on critics of tech companies. One of Bytedance’s own staff members registered to lobby for the company this summer. The company also hired the powerful corporate law firm Covington & Burling — whose clients include Facebook, among others — to advocate on its behalf.

Critics fear Michigan is promising the moon to land cloud data storage firms

Bridge Michigan

Less than a decade later, Loudoun County, Virginia has become the data center capital of the world, said Comstock, who is now an adviser for the NetChoice lobbying group. Property taxes, income taxes and other revenues related to the centers have been a “cash cow” for her region, she told legislators. 

Why SIA Opposes Massachusetts’ Far-Reaching Facial Recognition Technology Prohibition Bill

Security Industry Association

In an August poll of Massachusetts residents, 66 percent said law enforcement should not be precluded from using new technologies such as facial recognition, 64 percent believed facial recognition technology has the potential to enhance safety and only 15 percent would limit law enforcement’s use of the technology at the expense of public safety.

U.S. senators want social media users to be able to take their data with them

Reuters, New York Times, US News and World Report

The trade group NetChoice, which counts Google and Facebook among its members, said that the bill would do little to protect consumers.

“Data portability will inevitably endanger data security,” said Carl Szabo, general counsel at NetChoice. “Online hackers and criminals looking to steal consumer data will benefit.”

Lawmakers push tax breaks for data centers, critics worry about school funds

Michigan Advance

Steve DelBianco, CEO of NetChoice, a Virginia-based trade association of online and tech businesses, testified Thursday at the committee meeting on behalf of the data center market. He says that large data centers won’t even consider opening up shop in Michigan until there is data center-friendly legislation.

“We encourage Michigan, in this respect, to accommodate this view toward data centers that will either be here or not be here. And that hinges on whether or not the state recognizes the production equipment of a data center is production equipment that should qualify for sales tax exemptions,” DelBianco testified to the committee. “Over the last five years, not a single large enterprise data center is located in a state that has imposed its full sales tax on the data center servers.”

Should the government break up Big Tech?

AL.com, SI Live, Penn Live Patriot News, Cleveland.com, NJ.com, Mass Live, The Oregonian

Carl Szabo, vice president of the free-market tech trade group NetChoice, said in a statement that the “proposal would increase prices for consumers, make search and maps less useful, and raise costs to small businesses that advertise online.” Szabo, whose group counts Google and Facebook as members, said that consumers have never “had more access to goods, services, and opportunities online.”

SIA Advocates for Facial Recognition in Letter to US Lawmakers

Find Biometrics

The IBIA also signed the recent letter to Congress alongside the SIA. The other organizations backing the letter include the North American branch of the Airports Council International, the American Association of Airport Executives, the Consumer Technology Association, the Global Business Travel Association, the Identification Technology Association, NetChoice and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

US senators need social media customers to have the ability to take their information with them

New Paper 24

he commerce group NetChoice, which counts Google and Fb amongst its members, stated that the invoice would do little to guard customers.

Information portability will inevitably endanger information safety,” stated Carl Szabo, basic counsel at NetChoice. “On-line hackers and criminals trying to steal client information will profit.”

NetChoice Raises Consumer Privacy Concerns about the ACCESS Act

Today, NetChoice raised concerns about the ACCESS Act, introduced today by Sen. Hawley (R-MO), Sen. Warner (D-VA), and Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT) that the bill is more focused on attacking big tech than protecting and empowering consumers.

“As presented in the ACCESS Act, data portability will inevitably endanger data security,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Online hackers and criminals looking to steal consumer data will benefit from the ACCESS Act.” 

“These government imposed data portability requirements would make consumer data more vulnerable to abuse.”

The bill could also undermine efforts by market leaders including Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, to introduce data portability in a way that empowers consumers without undermining privacy or data security.

The ACCESS Act only aims to regulate large tech businesses with over 100,000,000 active monthly users in the U.S. It also fails to include preemption.

 “By only impacting the largest American businesses, the ACCESS Act is clearly focused more on attacking large tech innovators rather than creating a safe and secure portability system,” continued Szabo.

Gongwer – Big Tech Companies Under The Microscope In Field Hearing

Gongwer – Big Tech Companies Under The Microscope In Field Hearing

But Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, told members of the panel that large online platforms help America’s small businesses.

“For America’s small and mid-size businesses, the bigger the platform the better for reaching larger audiences. Consider the local custom furniture store. Just 15 years ago businesses like this could barely afford to place an ad in a local newspaper, let alone on TV or radio. Thanks to large online platforms, for less than $10 a small business can reach thousands of potential customers and target them more accurately than ever,” he said.

“Large online platforms have given new growth opportunities to America’s small businesses via app stores on the Apple and Android platforms. Software distribution used to require significant outlays for advertising, marketing, and logistics. But app stores allow even small software developers to reach millions of customers at minimal investment.”

Democratic divisions emerge over tackling Big Tech

The Hill

Steve DelBianco, the president of tech trade group NetChoice, called the criticisms “predictable.”

“It plays to their base to show that they’re standing up to big companies and that they care about election security, privacy, violent and extreme content.” 

2020 candidates escalate fight against Big Tech

Politico Morning Tech

 “We are concerned that a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies would be premature and have unintended consequences not only for innovation, safety, and security but for the continued improvement of the technology’s accuracy and effectiveness,” wrote the Consumer Technology Association, NetChoice, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups, one day ahead of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing likely to touch on the use of facial recognition technology for aviation security. “Instead, we urge Congress to collaborate with all stakeholders to address concerns raised by facial recognition technology and provide a consistent set of rules across the United States.”

MLive - Michigan bill aims to restrict what internet companies could ban from their sites

MLive – Michigan bill aims to restrict what internet companies could ban from their sites

Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for the trade association Net Choice, told lawmakers the legislation is rife with “constitutional infirmities” and could lead to a number of unintended consequences, including incentivizing companies to content moderation in order to avoid liability.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization, which says it represents businesses “promoting free speech and free enterprise on the net” on its website, opposes the bill.

“Because the term neutrality is so amorphous and so subject to the eye of the beholder, it’s not going to pass constitutional muster,” Szabo said of the bill. “In order to survive a First Amendment challenge, you have to be a compelling government interest, narrowly tailored and least restrictive. This bill fails all three prongs.”

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Group defends face recognition use in Massachusetts

Planet Biometrics

NetChoice, a trade association committed to the use of technology that fosters free enterprise and free expression, today launched a campaign to protect the use of new technologies, such as facial recognition, for law enforcement in Massachusetts.

On Policing Content, Social Media Companies Face a Trust Gap With Users

Morning Consult

Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of internet trade association NetChoice, which advocates for Section 230, said that part of the issue is the sheer amount of content that filters through the platforms. For example, Facebook’s moderators review more than 2 million pieces of content daily, according to a spokesperson, who also said by email that the company has tripled the number of people working on safety and security issues since 2016. 

California bans facial recognition on police body cameras as Massachusetts urged not to follow

Biometric Update

A similar restriction on law enforcement’s use of facial recognition could be enacted in Massachusetts, but trade association NetChoice has launched a campaign urging state lawmakers to reject a proposed moratorium.

poll conducted by Savanta for NetChoice in August shows that 64 percent of Massachusetts residents believe facial recognition can make society safer, and 66 percent are against denying law enforcement the use of new technologies to fight crime. When asked if facial recognition should be limited even at the expense of public safety, 46 percent disagreed, while 34 percent agreed. In each case responses are split between “somewhat” and “strong” agreement and disagreement. Asked if they would support a politician that votes to prevent the use of facial recognition and other technologies by law enforcement, 22 percent said they would be more likely to, while 41 percent said they would be less likely to do so.

A recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows a majority of U.S. adults trust law enforcement to use facial recognition.

NetChoice has launched a petition calling on the proposal to be rejected as part of its campaign.

“Every day facial recognition technologies help law enforcement to generate leads in cases, such as homicide, rape, armed robbery and other violent crime, as well as for non-enforcement reasons, including identifying elderly persons stricken with dementia, finding lost and missing children, identifying homeless persons with mental illness and identifying deceased persons,” said NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo in a statement by the organization.

“A moratorium on facial recognition technology not only goes against what Bay Staters want, it denies law enforcement tools needed to help keep our communities safe.”

Szabo has previously expressed at least tentative support for regulation aimed at increasing transparency around business use of facial biometrics in New York City.

Europe’s Margrethe Vestager in the hot seat

Politico

THE FIGHT FOR FACIAL RECOGNITION — Tech trade group NetChoice launched an offensive in Massachusetts challenging a proposal to block state law enforcement from using facial recognition software. The technology has come under fire by privacy and civil liberties advocates who’ve raised alarm about potential flaws in facial recognition software and algorithmic biases that put minorities at a disadvantage. NetChoice and other industry groups have argued that the technology is central to law enforcement efforts to keep the public safe. (San Francisco in May became the first major American city to ban police and municipal agencies from using facial recognition.)

Industry Group Launches Defense of Facial Recognition Technology

Meritalk

NetChoice, a business trade group focused on promoting free speech and free enterprise on the internet, launched a public campaign on Oct. 7 to defend law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology, and is taking aim at anti-facial recognition effort in Massachusetts.

“Every day facial recognition technologies help law enforcement to generate leads in cases, such as homicide, rape, armed robbery, and other violent crime, as well as for non-enforcement reasons, including identifying elderly persons stricken with dementia, finding lost and missing children, identifying homeless persons with mental illness and identifying deceased persons,” said Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president and general counsel.

NetChoice’s stance on the issue stands in opposition to an ongoing push from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Massachusetts.

POLITICO - 'Populist mobs' vs. the Kochs: Tech probes split the GOP

POLITICO – ‘Populist mobs’ vs. the Kochs: Tech probes split the GOP

“It comes down to the question of: Do you see government as the solution to a perceived problem? Or do you believe that the market is in the best position?” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, a right-leaning industry trade group whose members include Google and Facebook.

“It is one thing to say you believe in the free market, it’s another thing to actually do what you say,” he said.

NetChoice Launches Campaign to Protect Law Enforcement’s Use of Facial Recognition Technology to Promote Public Safety

Petition Urges State Lawmakers to Reject the Proposed Moratorium on Facial Recognition

WASHINGTON – NetChoice, a trade association committed to the use of technology that fosters free enterprise and free expression, today launched a campaign to protect the use of new technologies, such as facial recognition, for law enforcement in Massachusetts.

The campaign is powered by new survey data to educate Massachusetts residents and political stakeholders about these technologies: how they enable law enforcement to maintain public safety, and that most of the public oppose an all-out ban on the use of this technology by law enforcement.

NetChoice is inviting stakeholders, community leaders, and members of the public to sign a petition urging Massachusetts state lawmakers to reject the proposed moratorium on facial recognition use for law enforcement.

“Every day facial recognition technologies help law enforcement to generate leads in cases, such as homicide, rape, armed robbery and other violent crime, as well as for non-enforcement reasons, including identifying elderly persons stricken with dementia, finding lost and missing children, identifying homeless persons with mental illness and identifying deceased persons,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel of NetChoice.

“A moratorium on facial recognition technology not only goes against what Bay Staters want, it denies law enforcement tools needed to help keep our communities safe.”

Survey data from Pew also shows a majority of Americans (56 percent) trust law enforcement to use facial recognition technology responsibly.  

A new poll by Savanta found Massachusetts residents are more supportive of allowing law enforcement to use facial recognition technology responsibly than the general population.

 The Savanta survey of Massachusetts residents shows:

●      66 percent of Bay Staters say we should not deny law enforcement from using new technologies, such as facial recognition, to fight and deter crime.

●      64 percent of Bay Staters agreed facial recognition technology has the potential to make communities safer.

●      46 percent of Bay Staters said government should not strictly limit the use of facial recognition technology if it comes at the expense of the public’s safety.

Szabo added, “The survey results confirm that despite calls by some for a moratorium in Massachusetts, people across the state value this technology to keep their communities safe and help law enforcement do their jobs more effectively.”

Full survey data can be found here. For more information, please email rwinterton@netchoice.org.  


About NetChoice

NetChoice is a trade association fighting to protect free speech and free enterprise online. 

NetChoice Criticizes European Court of Justice Ruling that Harms Free Speech Online

Today, NetChoice criticized a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that threatens free speech around the world.

The ruling would aim to force Facebook to remove content on its platform worldwide if it’s found to be illegal in Europe, regardless of whether the content is legal elsewhere.

“This ruling sets a dangerous precedent enabling illiberal countries to enforce anti-free speech laws beyond their borders,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. 

“As some foreign governments stifle free expression on internet platforms, it becomes even more important for the United States to protect and advance laws like Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.” 

“I’m glad the United States respects the right of citizens to criticize its leaders. Our founders knew such freedoms of speech are necessary to create a stable democracy.” 

“Freedom of expression is core to Western, liberal democracies. Today’s EJC decision embraces the China-model of a closed internet, the model heralded by authoritarian governments.”

Washington Free Beacon - Warren Attacks Facebook as Her Campaign Continues to Use Its Tools

Washington Free Beacon – Warren Attacks Facebook as Her Campaign Continues to Use Its Tools

NetChoice, a coalition of tech companies that includes Facebook, pointed to Warren’s use of the platform’s tools as an example of “political hypocrisy.”

“This is a perfect example of Sen. Warren using Facebook for her own personal gain while railing against it publicly,” said Carl Szabo, the coalition’s vice president and general counsel.

“Candidates continue to lean heavily on the connectivity social platforms provide, yet still use them as a political tool to get a headline or deliver a talking point,” Szabo said. “It’s evident Facebook and other platforms provide a vital service to campaigns and voters, and Warren’s campaign utilizing social platforms to reach voters is a perfect example of this fact.”

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More retailers found charging wrong Sandy Springs sales tax; experts see no easy fix

Reporter Newspaper

The problems have compounded in the era of online sales, which are taxed based on the customer’s delivery address, resulting in a complicated sales tax system whose flaws raise the ire of local governments and retailers alike. “If Home Depot is having trouble with sales tax complexities, imagine the troubles that small businesses are confronting all over the country,” says Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, a trade association of online and tech businesses.

The Case for Not Banning Stuff

Hillicon Valley

A coalition of tech groups on Thursday sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to reject calls to ban facial recognition technology, arguing the sensitive software can help law enforcement “keep communities safe.” 

The groups — led by tech-backed think tank, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation — wrote the industry “disagree[s] that a ban is the best option to move forward.”

“We are writing to encourage you to consider many of the viable alternatives to bans so that law enforcement can use facial recognition technology safely, accurately, and effectively,” the letter reads. “These alternatives may include expanding testing and performance standards, the development of best practices and guidance for law enforcement, and additional training for different uses of the technology.”

Other signatories include the Computing Technology Industry Association, Consumer Technology Association and NetChoice as well as the National Police Foundation.

Tech trade groups rally against congressional calls to ban facial recognition technology

The Hill

“We are writing to encourage you to consider many of the viable alternatives to bans so that law enforcement can use facial recognition technology safely, accurately, and effectively,” the letter reads. “These alternatives may include expanding testing and performance standards, the development of best practices and guidance for law enforcement, and additional training for different uses of the technology.”

Other signatories include the Computing Technology Industry Association, Consumer Technology Association and NetChoice as well as the National Police Foundation. 

How Do You Value Data? A Reply To Jaron Lanier’s Op-Ed In The NYT

Tech Liberation Front

Shadow prices can also be calculated through surveys, which is where they get controversial. Depending on how the question is worded, users willingness to pay for privacy can be wildly variable. Trade association NetChoice worked with Zogby Analytics to find that only 16 percent of people are willing to pay for online platform service. Strahilevitz and Kugler found that 65 percent of email users, even though they knew their email service scans emails to serve ads, wouldn’t pay for alternative. 

Murky GOP bill aims to stop ‘censorship’ by tech companies

Michigan Advance

The bill is strongly opposed by NetChoice, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that brands itself as “a trade association of businesses who share the goal of promoting free speech and free enterprise on the net.”

Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president and general counsel, said passage of the bill would likely lead to companies ceasing “content moderation,” essentially opening up users to the potential for increased harassment, and would violate the First Amendment. 

“It’s injecting government into private contract and private business,” Szabo said. “It has unintended consequences that we will begin to see. And fortunately, it’s unnecessary.”

This Hawaiian Hotelier Hates Airbnb so Much He’s Willing to Destroy the Internet To Kill It

Reason Magazine

“This bill creates a moral hazard by letting big hotel chains harass short term rental competitors, just so the big hotels can further increase their room rates,” says Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, a trade association of e-commerce businesses. “Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online. The bill empowers Marriott to stop us from lawfully earning rental income on our own homes.”

Lawmakers discuss social media sites censoring Michiganders

WLNS

NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo said, “Email service providers that hold themselves to be neutral would be unable to block spam because they would be, “shadow banning” spammers. So while this is an issue of important discussion, I don’t think HB 4801 is a way to address the concerns we’ve heard.”

Hotel industry mounts attack on Airbnb with House bill

The Hill

Steve DelBianco, president of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, which promotes free speech on the internet, called Section 230 “the greatest internet law that no one’s ever heard of.”

He said issues with short-term rentals should be addressed at the local level.

“Congress should not get involved with how the city of Austin, Texas, enforces its lodging and local zoning laws against property owners,” DelBianco said. “But Congress is being pulled into this competitive conflict because Section 230 is a federal law and bars local governments from imposing liability on a platform for commerce and communication that came from users.”

Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s general counsel, argued that Case’s bill would encourage platforms to be less responsive to take down content of bad actors, which is a component of Section 230 and could lead to platforms not doing any moderation at all, similar to how 8chan operates.

“This bill would create disincentives for short term rental platforms to engage in active, aggressive, monitoring of homeowners,” he said.

Like others in the short-term rental lobby, DelBianco said NetChoice plans to educate lawmakers “on the general hazards of punching holes in Section 230.”

Every State but California and Alabama Is Investigating Google for Antitrust Violations

Western Journal

While bipartisan efforts are moving forward, the vice president of NetChoice, a trade association of businesses, expressed disappointment in the plans, calling it a “tech witch hunt.”

“There is no case for antitrust. The marketplace is robust with competition and it’s incongruous that direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies,” Carl Szabo told The Daily Caller News Foundation in August.

NetChoice Criticizes Bill That Would Upend Short-Term Rental Market

Today, NetChoice criticized a new bill introduced by Rep. Case (D-HI) that would upend the American short-term rental market by removing Section 230 protections for platforms where owners list their properties.

“This bill creates a moral hazard by letting big hotel chains harass short term rental competitors, just so the big hotels can further increase their room rates,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.  [see direct quotes from hotel chain executives below]

“Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online.  The bill empowers Marriott to stop us from lawfully earning rental income on our own homes.”

“It’s laughable to hold the Washington Post liable for bad acts associated with rentals that appear in classified ads — but that is what this bill does.  This bill is so broad it allows cities to ban home rental ads on craigslist and on any website showing classified ads.”

Hotel chain executives have said on record that laws curtailing STRs would allow them to raise prices:

  • LaSalle Hotel Properties’ CEO Mark Barnello told his investors that a law curtailing short-term rental services would allow hotels to boost their prices by eliminating competition.  Passage of a law liming short-term rental services “should be a big boost in the arm for the business, certainly in terms of the pricing.”
  • On an earnings call last year, Jon Bortz, Chief Executive of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, which owns Embassy Suites, Doubletree and other hotels, said that Airbnb has put a dent on the company’s “ability to price at what maybe the customer would describe as sort of gouging rates.”

Texas AG Leads Nationwide Antitrust Investigation of Google

The National Interest

NetChoice President Carl Szabo, who testified in a July 16 congressional hearing titled “Online Platforms and Market Power” and previously told the DCNF that an investigation into Google or Facebook would be a “tech witch hunt,” said he thinks Paxton “appears to have an open mind about this investigation.”

“Some [attroneys general] already have a conclusion, and then they look for the facts afterward, and that sets a dangerous precedent for any law enforcement body,” he added.

Szabo also said, however, that he thinks the investigation is unnecessary.

“What you’re seeing is kind of a pile-on where there’s no real disincentive for a state AG to put their name on the investigation. A lot of people can go out searching for things like El Dorado and invest their time into looking for something that just doesn’t exist,” he said.

“If you take a mere three minutes to think about the arguments for an antitrust case against Facebook and Google, they just don’t exist. There’s robust competition, and direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies. The American public overwhelmingly believes that on the list of things the government should look into, big tech is not a priority,” he continued.

Texas AG Ken Paxton Leads The Way On Google Antitrust Investigation: ‘It’s Creating National Interest’

Daily Caller

NetChoice President Carl Szabo, who testified in a July 16 congressional hearing titled “Online Platforms and Market Power” and previously told the DCNF that an investigation into Google or Facebook would be a “tech witch hunt,” said he thinks Paxton “appears to have an open mind about this investigation.”

“Some [attroneys general] already have a conclusion, and then they look for the facts afterward, and that sets a dangerous precedent for any law enforcement body,” he added.

Szabo also said, however, that he thinks the investigation is unnecessary.

“What you’re seeing is kind of a pile-on where there’s no real disincentive for a state AG to put their name on the investigation. A lot of people can go out searching for things like El Dorado and invest their time into looking for something that just doesn’t exist,” he said.

“If you take a mere three minutes to think about the arguments for an antitrust case against Facebook and Google, they just don’t exist. There’s robust competition, and direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies. The American public overwhelmingly believes that on the list of things the government should look into, big tech is not a priority,” he continued.


NetChoice Decries Announcement of Antitrust Action Against Facebook and Google by State Attorneys General

Today, NetChoice decried the announcement of antitrust investigations by several state Attorneys General against Facebook and Google.

“Google and Facebook face huge competition from dozens of market players and even each other,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President & General Counsel for NetChoice. “Neither Facebook nor Google use their market position to harm consumers — the standard by which antitrust accusations are judged.”

“State AGs should focus on markets with greater prevalence of consumer harm. 95% of Americans say antitrust enforcement should be most focused on industries other than tech, likely because such evidence of consumer harm is scant.”

“State AGs should chase clear cut cases of consumer harm, not headlines about attacks on popular brands.”

NetChoice Raises Concerns with FTC Decree Against YouTube for Alleged COPPA Violations

Today, NetChoice raised concerns about the FTC’s announcement that they plan to fine YouTube for alleged COPPA violations.

“Congress created COPPA with clear guardrails — today the FTC broke through them,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel of NetChoice. “This action puts all general audience sites on unsure footing. Is Angry Birds now subject to COPPA? What about CandyCrush or Marvel comics?” 

“The FTC has transformed COPPA from objective principles to subjective punishment for virtually any website – whether child-directed or not.”

In its decision, the FTC greatly expanded the existing subjective COPPA standard to general audience websites even when users sign a contract saying they are over 13.

“This decree will slash the advertising revenue that supports video creators producing high-quality child-friendly content. This means far fewer ad dollars to support videos that my teenager watches to learn about nutrition, sports instruction, and science projects,” said NetChoice President Steve DelBianco.

Inside the media industry’s struggle to take on Silicon Valley

Politico

“If only somebody would help Rupert Murdoch,” quipped Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of the tech trade group NetChoice, whose members include Facebook and Google.

Will the fight against big tech monopolies bring Republicans and Democrats together?

Deseret News

Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for tech trade association NetChoice, testified before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee in July in a two-part proceeding that included bipartisan grilling of witnesses about potential anticompetitive practices by big tech companies. NetChoice counts Facebook, Google, Twitter and others among its membership.

Szabo told the Deseret News there’s a sentiment afoot at state and federal levels to weaponize federal antitrust law.

“What you’re seeing is an attempt to use antitrust as a weapon to intimidate tech companies into complying with the whims of politicians,” Szabo said. “And that’s creating a dangerous precedent, not only for how we evaluate antitrust law for all businesses, but how we choose to treat issues of free speech for America.”

Szabo said the “lash outs” from some elected officials have stemmed from “tech businesses supporting or opposing the speech of a particular politician.”

He also noted polling conducted by his group, and others, reflects a disconnect between the will of voters and the “antitrust agendas” coming from both sides of the political divide.

“We did some polling and, not surprisingly, those making calls for anti-tech activity are out of touch,” Szabo said. “Polling conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal showed that Americans overwhelmingly like and support companies such as Google and Twitter and even companies like Facebook had a 50-50 breakdown.

“Democrats and Republicans advocating for anti-tech activity puts them out of touch with their constituents.”

NetChoice Supports Senators Klobuchar and Blumenthal on Need for Antitrust Investigation of Ticketmaster-Livenation

Today, NetChoice commended U.S. Senators Klobuchar and Blumenthal’s request that the Department of Justice investigate Ticketmaster-Livenation anti-competitive actions, whether it has violated the Sherman Act, and if it should be broken up.

“The Department of Justice and state Attorneys Generals should address real instances of consumer harm from monopolies like Ticketmaster-Livenation instead of wasting resources on tech industry witch-hunts.” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“DoJ should focus on actual instances of consumer harm instead of targeting competitive businesses that a politician doesn’t like. Ticketmaster-Livenation has abused its dominant market position to raise ticket prices and “convenience fees,” and is therefore a far greater threat of consumer harm than competitive markets like social media and online platforms.”

The lack of competition has allowed Ticketmaster to continue increasing its “convenience fees,” even as technology should be driving those costs down.”

At Least 20 States Join Forces, Take Part in Big Tech Antitrust Investigation

The Western Journal

While bipartisan efforts are moving forward, the vice president of NetChoice, a trade association of businesses, expressed disappointment in the plans, calling it a “tech witch hunt.”

“There is no case for antitrust. The marketplace is robust with competition and it’s incongruous that direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies,” Carl Szabo told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Antitrust enforcement is a tool to ensure competition, not a weapon to attack businesses you don’t like,” Szabo said. “If AGs ignore facts and convert antitrust enforcement from an objective standard to a subjective one, it will create a dangerous political weapon that should scare all businesses.”

Big techs facing antitrust investigation

LaCorte News

“It’s disappointing to see state AGs pursue this tech witch hunt. There is no case for antitrust. The marketplace is robust with competition and it’s incongruous that direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies…Antitrust enforcement is a tool to ensure competition, not a weapon to attack businesses you don’t like,” NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo told the Daily Caller.

‘Tech Witch Hunt’: Here’s How 20 Or More States Plan To Take On Big Tech

The Daily Caller and US China Investment News

“It’s disappointing to see state AGs pursue this tech witch hunt. There is no case for antitrust. The marketplace is robust with competition and it’s incongruous that direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies,” NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo, who testified in a July 16 congressional hearing titled “Online Platforms and Market Power,” told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Antitrust enforcement is a tool to ensure competition, not a weapon to attack businesses you don’t like. If AGs ignore facts and convert antitrust enforcement from an objective standard to a subjective one, it will create a dangerous political weapon that should scare all businesses,” he added.

Expedia to Congress – Hands Off Tech Liability Shield

Politico Morning Tech

“The beneficiaries of this bill are big hotel chains who want to raise room rates without worrying that guests would consider short-term rentals as an alternative,” said NetChoice President Steve DelBianco. (His trade group members include all the major short-term rental platforms, from Airbnb to Expedia to Travelocity).

NetChoice Challenges State Attorney’s General Antitrust Attack on Tech

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, several state Attorneys General from across the country are launching an antitrust investigation into technology businesses including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

“These cases brought by state AGs are weak as these platforms have neither market dominance nor engage in anti-competitive behavior,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.

“It’s clear that tech markets are highly competitive. Within 18 months of launching, Tik Tok achieved over a billion global downloads, Snapchat maintains a strong standing, Spotify is double the size of Apple music, and Walmart remains the largest seller in the world.”

“State AGs should focus on industries where consumer harm actually exists. NetChoice polling shows that only 5% of consumers think that antitrust enforcement should be most focused on online platforms.“

“This attack on online platforms by Republican AGs should concern conservatives who expect the GOP to be the party of small government – instead, these AGs are listening to the siren song of populism in their desire to regulate businesses they don’t like.”

NetChoice Criticizes Congressional Efforts to Upend Short-Term Rental Market

Today, NetChoice criticized efforts by Rep. Case (D-HI) to pass legislation that would upend the American short-term rental market by removing Section 230 protections.

“Nobody would say that a newspaper is liable for problems that occur with a rental that appeared in the paper’s classified ads, but that is just what Case’s bill would do to short-term rental platforms. This approach creates a moral hazard by shifting legal responsibility from the homeowner to the platform that lists it for rental.” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.

“Without Section 230 it will be harder for homeowners to earn extra income through short-term rental of their home, which today is helping them cover expenses and mortgage payments.”

“Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online.  The beneficiaries of this bill are big hotel chains who want to raise room rates without worrying that guests would consider short-term rentals as an alternative.”

NetChoice Raises Concerns with Beto O’Rourke’s Proposal to Amend Section 230

Today, NetChoice raised concerns with former Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced plans to hold internet companies accountable for failing to stop hate speech and domestic terrorism threats online.

“By prescribing how platforms moderate speech, Beto’s proposal would actually make it harder to remove hateful and extremist content.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel of NetChoice. 

“Since 8chan doesn’t moderate content at all, 8chan doesn’t rely on Section 230 to avoid liability for user content. 8chan already gets the same ‘conduit’ liability limits as newsstands and cable providers.”

“Section 230 is the legal tool that empowers platforms to take down hate speech, and has allowed Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to remove almost 12 million accounts for hate speech violations.”

Internal Divides Cloud Tech Industry’s Antitrust Defense

Politico – Morning Tech

As the antitrust heat rises, the small, right-leaning trade association NetChoice, which counts Facebook and Google as members, has emerged as one of the tech industry’s most vocal defenders. Carl Szabo, the vice president and general counsel of the three-person operation, said antitrust falls well within the group’s mission to “keep the internet open for free expression and free enterprise.”

After the DOJ announced its review, NetChoice called on the department to “resist the siren song of populism and only investigate actual evidence of consumer harm.” It also slammed House Democrats as “hypocritical” for complaining about the power of tech companies while seeking an antitrust exemption for big news publishers to negotiate collectively with Google and Facebook over ad sales.

Industry trade groups shouldn’t shy away from the fight, Szabo said.

“I would hope that all associations and all business would oppose a movement away from objective, data-based analysis of antitrust and all associations and businesses would oppose the weaponization of antitrust,” Szabo said. “While such actions may help them today, it can definitely be used against them tomorrow.”

Trump seeks powers to rein in alleged tech bias

The Hill

NetChoice, a trade association that represents Facebook, Google and Twitter, said Friday that an executive order on social media content would be counterproductive to the president’s goal of weeding out extremism online.

“In a week where many in Washington pressured social media sites to more closely moderate their platforms, we are seeing efforts from the White House to make content moderation harder,” Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. 

“If President Trump is concerned about mistreatment of conservatives by social media platforms the White House should continue a productive dialogue with the tech industry — not empower government agencies to regulate online speech,” he added. “Diminishing platforms’ ability to remove offensive content empowers the spread of extremist political speech.” 

Trump seeks powers to rein in alleged social media bias

High Plains Pundit

NetChoice, a trade association that represents Facebook, Google and Twitter, said Friday that an executive order on social media content would be counterproductive to the president’s goal of weeding out extremism online.

“In a week where many in Washington pressured social media sites to more closely moderate their platforms, we are seeing efforts from the White House to make content moderation harder,” Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

“If President Trump is concerned about mistreatment of conservatives by social media platforms the White House should continue a productive dialogue with the tech industry — not empower government agencies to regulate online speech,” he added. “Diminishing platforms’ ability to remove offensive content empowers the spread of extremist political speech.”

NetChoice Challenges White House Proposal to Control Online Speech

Today, CNN obtained a copy of a summary of a proposed Executive Order by The White House to grant the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission investigation and oversight powers regarding moderation of content by online platforms.

“In a week where many in Washington pressured social media sites to more closely moderate their platforms, we are seeing efforts from the White House to make content moderation harder.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice.

“If President Trump is concerned about mistreatment of conservatives by social media platforms the White House should continue a productive dialogue with the tech industry — not empower government agencies to regulate online speech.”

“Diminishing platforms’ ability to remove offensive content empowers the spread of extremist political speech.”

How Big Tech Cracks Down on Extremist Content Uploaded by Mass Shooters

Inside Sources

Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for Big Tech lobbying group NetChoice, said that between July and December 2018, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube “took action against over 11 million accounts that had broken policies on hate speech and extremism.”

“The 11 million accounts, that’s the number you don’t hear about because it’s gone before you even see it,” Szabo told InsideSources. “The large platforms and even the small ones do work really hard to take down harmful content and do that through algorithms and bots, through user tagging, and through manual reviews.”

The internet’s role in gun violence

Politico Morning Tech

Legal protections: “All posts on 8chan are the responsibility of the individual poster and not the administration of 8chan, pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 230,” reads one line of tiny fine print on the site’s landing page, invoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the clause that gives 8chan and other websites legal immunity for user-generated content. The statute has been at the center of a growing debate over whether the legal shield is providing cover to tech companies that need to do more to combat hate speech and disinformation. (Republicans have also floated the idea of weakening 230 because, they say, Google, Facebook and Twitter are biased against conservatives.) The 8chan link to the El Paso shooting could accelerate talk of changing the law. But industry groups argue 230 helps tech platforms police bad content. “Section 230 empowers platforms to stop the spread of vile content from the dark corners of the Internet,” Carl Szabo, general counsel at NetChoice, told MT. “Without Section 230, extreme speech would become more prevalent online — not less.”

They’re barking up the wrong tree on Section 230

The Economic Standard

That’s according to Robert Winterton, Director of Communications at NetChoice, a trade association committed to protecting free enterprise and free expression online, writing in the OC Register. A measure implemented in 1996 to establish the legal responsibility of content creators for whatever they post on the Internet — surely a good idea? — Section 230 has come under fire from the likes of Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson as a “handout” to big tech companies like Google and Facebook in the wake of terrorism and alleged election meddling controversies. The fact that neither company existed when the law was passed is your first clue that the logic here may be faulty, and Winterton lays out a convincing argument supported, among other things, by analysis from the Mercatus Center.

Media v. Tech Continued

Politico

— But critics say the media industry is using big tech as a scapegoat for its business model woes. “It’s clear this is just an attack on social media by big media companies upset that they no longer control our news and views,” said Carl Szabo, general counsel at NetChoice, a trade group representing Facebook, Google and Twitter, in June. “Big media is struggling to dominate again as they did before the internet. … Rather than looking for government to tear down tech businesses, big media should follow tech’s lead and innovate so they are more competitive.”