NetChoice Media Hits
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”