NetChoice Media Hits
Despite this growing distrust of TikTok in the United States, ByteDance has been working to rebuild its public image. Recently, TikTok joined NetChoice, a trade association that has been aggressive in pushing back on critics of tech companies and has begun to enhance its lobbying efforts in the U.S.
Steve DelBianco, president/CEO of NetChoice, warned that antitrust actions could affect innovation, since small companies often build strategies with expectations of being acquired by a major provider, such as the platform companies.
DelBianco also predicted that by 2030, “Government will still be trying to figure out how to regulate artificial intelligence,” which will continue to be a major initiative of all the platform providers.
“Empowering the plaintiff’s bar to go after every business is the surest way to eliminate age appropriate content for young people,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, a trade group whose membership includes Google and Twitter. “Just as COPPA was responsible for decimating innovative content for children, a private right of action will do the same for young people.”
Your editorial “California Runs Off the Road” (Jan. 24) highlights the many problems California’s new AB5 law has caused for employees across the state. The overregulation of independent contractors, resulting in the persecution of freelance journalism in the state, has led to hundreds of journalist layoffs. Lower advertising dollars or decreased readership isn’t the cause.
Though the editorial notes that the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association are both challenging the law for abridging free speech, many journalists and media entities initially celebrated the passage of AB5. News sites like Vox Media celebrated that independent contractors in California will “get basic labor rights for the first time” under AB5. Then a mere three months later, Vox Media announced the layoff of hundreds of freelance journalists due to AB5’s additional costs of using freelance reporters in the Golden State.
While some blame tech for destroying America’s press industry, tech actually made it easier for freelancers to become journalists and news photographers. Perhaps a better cause of the decimation of journalism is the anticontractor activists, the demonization of where and when a person can work and laws like AB5 that are decimating local journalism.
“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,” says Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, which advocates for free markets in technology. “What we really need are cybersecurity standards for drones that apply to all manufacturers, enabling greater competition and security.”
“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.
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.”
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.
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.”