NetChoice Media Hits

Washington’s new tone: Help us, Silicon Valley

Politico

“We’re starting to see that when the chips are down, tech is riding toward the danger and helping us to address the problems that we’re facing,” said Carl Szabo, the vice president of NetChoice, a trade group that staunchly defends the industry. “It’s a little hard to argue the tech industry only does stuff for their own benefit when you look at what they’ve done over the last couple of days.”

Bipartisan Privacy Talks Split With Second Senate GOP Bill (1)

Bloomberg Government

The tech industry anxiously awaits a federal bill as more state pass piecemeal privacy measures that will drive up business compliance costs, Carl Szabo, vice president and general council of tech trade group NetChoice, said in an interview.

“Starting with a non-starter just doesn’t make sense. And stuff like a private right of action or no preemption are just non-starters,” he said. “It almost makes me think that there is not a legitimate interest in creating a privacy bill, but creating the appearance of interest.”

Szabo said he’s “cautiously optimistic” a bill can get done. “As more business feel the pain, they’re going to turn to Congress to address the situation.”

U.S. Legislation Will Restrain Online Child Abuse

HNGN

The bill was assailed by Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, he said in a quote,” “The EARN IT Act creates a false choice between protecting children and supporting strong encryption protections.”

BROADBAND ROUNDUPTech Industry Pushes Back Against EARNIT, Microsoft on Digital Divide, Satellite Analyzer-in-the-cloud

Broadband Breakfast

CCIA President Matt Schruers had the following to say about EARNIT:

“Technology providers need the flexibility to make digital products and services safer and more secure. Law enforcement needs the resources and direction to prioritize prosecuting bad actors.

“Everyone has a role to play in meeting our shared goal of reducing crime online. Unfortunately, creating a new federal commission to second-guess how private Internet companies manage content and secure their users is not the best way to fight crime,” Schruers said.

The other associations signing on to the letter were the Consumer Technology Association, the Internet Association, the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, and NetChoice.

The CyberWire Daily Briefing

The CyberWire

NetChoice Announces Opposition to Sen. Graham’s EARN IT Act (NetChoice) Today, Sen. Graham (R-SC) introduced the EARN IT Act, a bill with good intentions to tackle child exploitation yet falls short in addressing the underlying issues while creating new vulnerabilities…

Encryption clash: Executive branch, Congress vs. tech, civil liberties groups

Politico

The industry organizations: The Computer & Communications Industry Association, Consumer Technology Association, Internet Association, Internet Infrastructure Coalition and NetChoice signed a joint letter to bill sponsors Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Judiciary chairman, and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) emphasizing the encryption risks.

“Strong encryption is critical for national security, a vibrant and competitive digital economy, and the online and physical safety of individuals, including children,” the organizations wrote. “Creating a false choice between encryption and intermediary protections would exacerbate threats to these technology users, placing those most vulnerable Americans at greatest risk.” 

CCIA, 4 Associations Send Letter Warning Of Encryption, Safety Risks Of New Bill

Computer and Communication Industry Association

Washington — The Computer & Communications Industry Association sent a letter signed by 4 other associations warning Congress of the collateral dangers of altering the law that gives internet companies legal certainty to remove nefarious content. Under current law companies are granted liability protections which enable them to remove offensive content.

Now several Senators are proposing the “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies” (EARNIT) Act, which would create a government-funded commission charged with specifying private sector practices for online monitoring and content removal. In the letter, CCIA, Consumer Technology Association, Internet Association, Internet Infrastructure Coalition, and NetChoice explain that internet companies are constantly updating proactive measures to remove harmful content online, including child exploitation and child sexual abuse material. The letter also notes the bill could have implications for online security measures companies are implementing.

U.S. legislation targets online child sexual abuse; threatens encryption on Facebook, Google

Reuters, New York Times

Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel, NetChoice

“The EARN IT Act creates a false choice between protecting children and supporting strong encryption protections,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice – a group that counts Facebook, Google, Twitter among its members.

EARN IT Act: Instant Reaction

Morning Consult

Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel, NetChoice

“What you’re seeing is a misunderstanding of what Section 230 is, what it does and its necessity,” Szabo said. “None of the sponsors of this act have supported existing congressional efforts to explore the unintended consequences of SESTA,” a bill passed in 2018 that amends Section 230 to include provisions waiving liability protections for online platforms that host illegal sexual content. “They seem unwilling to recognize that SESTA has harmed the very victims it has tried to help. Until we understand the harm of the only other amendment to Section 230, it is premature to consider this legislation.”  

Lindsey Graham to Big Tech: Police Content or Lose Immunity

Bloomberg

Nonetheless, companies and groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Prosperity, International Business Machines Corp., NetChoice and the Internet Association either raised concerns about the bill or opposed it outright.

Consumer Advocates, Boss Act Co-Author Praise House Investigation

Ticket News

NetChoice, a D.C.-based trade association of businesses, shared similar sentiments. The organization minced no words when it came to the hearing’s oversight into Ticketmaster having been an outspoken opponent of its practices. Netchoice also called for further investigations into Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation.

“Ticketmaster’s anti-competitive practices present an opportunity for antitrust enforcement that would be both popular and necessary,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel. “This hearing showed that now is the time for an antitrust investigation of Ticketmaster and LiveNation. Investigating Ticketmaster for anti-consumer behavior would produce a slam-dunk case for the DOJ and FTC, proving both are well-prepared to protect consumers in the 2020s. Ticketmaster has been denying fans choice and convenience by using anti-competitive and dark practices. We look forward to further government action including the passage of the BOSS Act to protect consumers.”

Section 230 under siege: A guide to all the ways the law could be gutted

Protocol

“All I’ve heard about have been problems. I haven’t heard of a single benefit,” says Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, a trade association representing Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech companies. Szabo will be at the DOJ workshop next week.

Nationalist Josh Hawley’s FTC overhaul plan is a socialist’s dream

The Strident Conservative

This Orwellian outcome to Hawley’s plan is the primary reason it is opposed by NetChoice, a trade association representing Facebook, Google, and Twitter. “Sen. Hawley’s proposals would place the entirety of FTC authority under the control of a single director, giving that person the sole power to dictate the future of American business,” vice president Carl Szabo said in a statement. (emphasis mine)

Sen Josh Hawley proposes putting the FTC under DOJ control

Great Today News

“Rather than protecting the agency from regulatory capture, Sen. Hawley’s proposals would make political abuse more likely — right when concerns are growing over politically motivated antitrust actions,” NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel Carl Szabo said in a statement.

For the tech world, New Hampshire is anyone’s race

Politico Morning Tech

— “Having two federal agencies in charge of enforcing antitrust law makes as much sense as having two popes,” Lee told MT in an emailed statement. “This is an issue we’ve had hearings on in the Judiciary Committee and I think Sen. Hawley has identified a productive and constitutionally sound way forward.” (Hawley’s proposal swiftly drew pushback from one industry group, NetChoice, which said it “would make political abuse more likely.”)

Rental Car Companies Collect $4 Billion in Special Treatment While Complaining That Their Competitors Get Special Treatment

Reason Magazine

The biggest of those loopholes is the simple fact that rental car companies are exempt from paying sales tax when they buy new vehicles. According to a report published this week by NetChoice, that sale tax exemption saved rental car companies more than $3.5 billion last year. In California, where other residents have to pay a 7.25 percent tax on the price of a new car, that tax break saved rental car companies more than $676 million in 2019.

That sweet deal isn’t available to users of Turo or GetAround. Good luck telling your state that the reason you didn’t pay your vehicle sales tax bill is because you plan to rent the car as a side hustle.

“State governments hand out billions to companies like Enterprise and Hertz, providing them an unfair advantage over competitors, like peer-to-peer car-sharing services,” says Steve DelBianco, NetChoice’s president.

The NetChoice report also examines the so-called “vehicle license fees” tacked onto the cost of renting a car through traditional platforms such as Enterprise or Hertz. Consumers probably don’t think about that fee as anything different than a tax—but in reality, it simply provides additional revenue for the rental car platform and does not go to local or state governments.

Ticket transfer bill dead; issue not

The Journal Gazette

Carl Szabo, vice president for NetChoice – a trade association for businesses promoting free enterprise on the internet – said he was utterly amazed at the opposition to the bill.

“I feel like my head is about to explode,” he said. “Everyone is saying it’s unnecessary. But you don’t send the senior VP of Live Nation for a bill that’s unnecessary. Clearly they have a lot more planned for Indiana consumers than meets the eye.”

He was referring to Tom Mendenhall of Live Nation – one of the largest events promoters and venue operators in the world – who attended the hearing on the bill. Live Nation owns a number of venues in central Indiana.

Big Tech likes rules, so long as it writes them

The Times (UK)

Carl Szabo is general counsel of NetChoice, one of tech’s most aggressive lobbyists, whose members include Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo. He spends most of his time beating back two arguments: that tech companies are too big and should be broken up, and that section 230 — the “liability shield” that has fuelled their rise — needs to be scrapped.

Szabo, however, said that this logic was faulty. Section 230, he said, simply codifies another concept, known as “conduit immunity”, which he argued had been established through decades of court cases. If section 230 goes away, Big Tech is prepared to claim that they are protected by conduit immunity instead.

“At the end of the day, section 230 produces the most good with the least harm,” said Szabo, because it empowers companies to police their content — Facebook, for example has 30,000 post moderators — without fear of legal reprisals.

This is shaping up to be a key battleground. Szabo said the industry would “stand in unison” against efforts to touch section 230. Farid, who testified in Congress on Big Tech’s failings last year, said: “Industry lobbyists can say what they want, but there is bipartisan support for reforming 230. Everybody acknowledges that this is absurd.”

According to industry sources, American politicians are considering borrowing from Britain, where a law set to go into effect this year would impose a “duty of care” on platforms, even allowing for civil suits if companies failed to protect users from a list of harms ranging from pornography to cyber-bullying.

The other area of focus for Szabo is the call to break up Big Tech. The giants’ power was on full display last week. Facebook hit record profits and revealed that an astounding 2.9 billion people used its apps every month. Amazon reported its best three months ever. So did Apple. Amazon’s zooming stock price added $13bn to Bezos’s fortune in a day.

For Szabo, the eye-catching figures are distractions from the reality: none of these companies fits the legal definition of a monopoly, which in America means a company that uses its power to harm consumers. Facebook, for example, has less than a quarter of the global advertising market. Google has about a third. Amazon accounts for roughly half of e-commerce transactions but is lapped by Walmart in overall sales. Apple is one of many in a crowded smartphone market, with about 15% of global sales.

“From an analytical perspective, when you look at whether there is a case to be made for antitrust, it fails every time, aside from the declaration of, ‘They’re too big’,” said Szabo. “When you actually look at the facts, there’s no ‘they’ there.”

The Biggest Tech Companies – Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google – Have Nowhere to Go But Down, Say Panelists

Broadband Breakfast

Steve DelBianco, CEO of NetChoice, said that Warren’s fellow Democratic Party presidential candidates weren’t really concerned about the corporate power of Silicon Valley. Rather, he said, the issues they raised at the October presidential debate were election interference, disinformation, privacy and the censorship of controversial conservative speech.

“None of the concerns they raised have a single thing to do with antitrust,” said DelBianco, whose group was active in opposing the antitrust case against Microsoft in the late 1990s and early 2000s.