May 16, 2012
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California Regulatory Crusade Tops List of Bad Internet Laws
WASHINGTON – For the first time, NetChoice has placed a state’s entire Internet agenda – rather than a single piece of legislation – atop its iAWFUL list of bad Internet laws. California’s clutch of overreaching, innovation-stifling regulatory efforts earns the number one spot on the May 2013 iAWFUL with the Federal Internet sales tax effort trailing a close second.
Over the past six months, California legislators aggressively pushed a series of bills that could dramatically stifle innovation, not just in California, but also across the nation and throughout the world. The bills seek to impose harsh restrictions on everything from mobile apps, to social networking, to online advertising. Individually, they each merit placement on the iAWFUL (Internet Advocates Watchlist of Ugly Laws) but taken together, they represent a troubling trend.
“California’s inexplicable binge on invasive, unnecessary Internet regulation threatens the brightest light of that state’s economy,” NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco said. “California Internet policies have a way of transforming into national standards, and in this case, those standards could spell disaster for the Internet industry.”
The California legislative onslaught was viewed as troubling enough to knock the former top item on the iAWFUL list – the federal government’s effort to impose a massive, unfair tax burden on Internet sellers and their customers – into second place. Still, the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, which recently passed the Senate and now moves to the House of Representatives for debate, remains an incredibly high priority for Internet advocates.
The iAWFUL was created in 2009 to shine a spotlight on the very worst Internet-related legislative proposals nationwide, and unfortunately has never lacked for candidates. In third place on the May 2013 iAWFUL is legislation being considered in several states that could override the final wishes of social networking users by turning over access to their personal data after they pass away.
The remaining iAWFUL includes: two measures that would needlessly damage thriving Internet-publishing models; an overreaching data breach notification bill; a punitive tax on online travel booking sites; and bills that would strictly limit how sports and concert fans use the event tickets that they lawfully purchase.
More than simply identifying legislative threats to the Internet, the purpose of iAWFUL is to drive real change in these measures before they are enacted into law. Several past iAWFUL proposals have either been dropped or substantially changed after appearing on the list, and NetChoice is confident that none of the measures on the May 2013 list are inevitable.
“No lawmaker in America wants to break the economic engine that is driving our fragile recovery,” DelBianco said. “It falls to all of us in the Internet community to point out the calamitous unintended consequences that these measures can pose to the Internet economy.”
NetChoice is a public policy advocacy organization that promotes Internet innovation and communication and fights threats to online commerce at state, federal and international levels. The Washington, DC-based group protects Internet commerce-driven competition and battles rules that hinder consumer choice and hurt small businesses. For more information, see www.netchoice.org.