Today, NetChoice voiced support for the FTC and Facebook’s settlement, for which Facebook will be fined $5 billion. This breaks the record for privacy-related fines and is about 100 times larger than last year’s EU’s fine for Google.
“The FTC’s Facebook fine is the largest ever, by a huge margin,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel at NetChoice. “Yet we are already hearing anti-tech critics claim that the fine is not enough. “
“The FTC’s Facebook fine is unprecedented and will undoubtedly motivate better privacy practices by all businesses. The FTC commissioners should enjoy their weekend, #ThatsGonnaLeaveAMark”
Today, 14 Free Market and Conservative groups sent a letter to House and Senate leadership asking them to defend Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act.
The letter illustrates the importance of Section 230 to the American economy and free speech online. Sent the day before President Trump’s Social Media Summit, the letter is key reading for conservatives discussing concerns about social media platforms.
Below are quotes from NetChoice and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance about the importance of the letter and Section 230:
David Williams, President of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance: “Countless conservative voices benefit from the liability protections guaranteed by Section 230, and oppose any attempts to end this vital provision. The internet flourishes when social media platforms allow for discourse and debate without fear of a tidal wave of liability. Ending Section 230 would shutter this marketplace of ideas at tremendous cost.”
Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice: “Online platforms power the American economy and conservative speech online, and it’s clear that many conservative and free market groups support maintaining Section 230. It’s bad policy and bad politics for Republicans to attack Section 230.”
“He’s one of the smartest people in the legislature and he’s somebody who, when he puts his mind to something, is incredibly driven,” said Carl Szabo, general counsel for right-leaning industry group NetChoice. “This is why I’m as disheartened as I am to see him put a lot of his effort into attacks on America’s businesses and harms to America’s freedoms that we enjoy today.”
NetChoice, like the Internet Association, counts digital heavyweights like Google, Facebook and Twitter as members.
Today, as part of its filings with the Federal Trade Commission, NetChoice released a white paper outlining identifying the myriad of privacy laws and actions taken against technology businesses.
This report lists the more than 100 US privacy laws governing tech and more than 75 general privacy cases and 65 data security cases brought against tech by the FTC since 2002.
“Some in Congress think the tech industry is the “wild west.” This is completely untrue. The industry is regulated by over 100 different laws and 75 enforcers,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice.
“Tech regulation is substantial with over eleven federal agencies providing oversight and more than $100 million reaped in privacy fines.”
Full report at: www.NetChoice.org/RegulationWhitePaper
US internet companies are ten times as likely to raise over $100 million in venture capital compared to EU internet platform businesses
WASHINGTON, DC – NetChoice, a trade association committed to make the internet safe for free enterprise and free expression, today hosted the release of a new report – Don’t Shoot the Message Board – revealing the positive economic impact of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act on the US economy and the ability of American companies to innovate and receive strong investments.
Authored by the Copia Institute, the report reveals that US companies are five times as likely to raise over $10 million in venture capital, and ten times as likely to raise over $100 million in venture capital compared to those in the EU. These benefits to the US economy and businesses are attributed to the assurances and broad immunity provided by Section 230.
The report, using cross-regional comparisons, as well as changes over time within certain
countries, explores how different levels of platform protections from liability impact investment and innovation. According to the report:
- Section 230 continues to enable strong economic growth. There is a direct correlation between countries with intermediary liability protections like Section 230 and economic growth. Over the next decade, Section 230 will contribute a further 4.25 million jobs and $440 billion in growth to the US economy.
- Section 230 enables a world-leading, innovative and competitive tech industry. After Section 230 was put into law, investment in internet platform businesses tripled.
- Limits on liability offered by Section 230 resulted in two to three times greater total investment in internet platform businesses in the US as compared to the more limited protections offered in the EU and under the E-Commerce Directive.
- Section 230 is credited with creating “a trillion dollars in value” and is a driver for American job creation.
- US platform companies are five times as likely to be able to raise significant funds (over $10 million in venture capital) and ten times as likely to raise massive funds (over $100 million in venture capital) due to these stronger protections from Section 230 than those in the European Union.
Mike Masnick, CEO of the Copia Institute, added: “This report reaffirms that Section 230 is vital for strong investments and innovation around the country.”
“With the strong data presented in this report, there is no denying the fact that American innovation and start-up success is directly linked to the confidence provided to investors under Section 230,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel of NetChoice.
“Not only does Section 230 empower communities and voices across the United States, it also ignites American innovation and American economic prosperity with rippling benefits to all that utilize internet-based platforms.”
For more information and a downloadable copy of the report, please visitwww.netchoice.com/dontshootthemessageboard.
Today, NetChoice condemned Sen. Hawley’s “Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act” as legislation that would embolden extreme political movements, such as the KKK.
The bill empowers the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to judge whether a platform is moderating with “political neutrality.” Under the bill, before a platform can enjoy liability protections, it must first receive a “neutrality seal of approval” from the FTC. This means that the FTC would have the power to say which social media platforms are allowed to host political speech by users.
“This bill prevents social media websites from removing dangerous and hateful content, since that could make them liable for lawsuits over any user’s posting” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel at NetChoice. “Sen. Hawley’s bill creates an internet where content from the KKK would display alongside our family photos and cat videos.”
“This law would turn today’s popular social media sites into hubs of extremism like 8-Chan.”
“Republicans should be very worried about Sen. Hawley giving control of the internet to the FTC, since it empowers a future Democratic administration to suppress conservative speech online.”
Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 1: The Free and Diverse Press.” NetChoice is concerned that the hearing will be used to push for government to protect big media companies rather than to act in the interests of consumers.
“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, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.
“Big media is showing its true colors by supporting antitrust exemptions for themselves, while demanding tougher antitrust enforcement on tech businesses.”
“It’s hypocritical for legislators to simultaneously complain about the size of tech businesses while seeking to pass a law to give more power to Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim.”
“Big media is struggling to dominate again as they did before the internet,” continued Szabo. “Rather than looking for government to tear down tech businesses, big media should follow tech’s lead and innovate so they are more competitive.”
Today, Sen. Hawley (R-MO) announced plans to introduce the “Protecting Children from Online Predators Act.” The bill would ban “video hosting websites” from showing videos depicting minors as part of Youtube recommendations.
“While Hawley’s goal is to help minors, his bill would suppress all videos featuring minors — with the unintended effect that high schools and youth groups like the YMCA cannot effectively promote their activities.”
“The largest social media platforms are devoting substantial resources to remove child exploitation content from their websites. Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook together removed over 16 million users who had violated child safety standards in the second half of 2018.”
Today, Google announced in a blog post that it is updating YouTube’s community guidelines. The move will further reduce the presence of supremacist and hateful content on YouTube’s platform.
“It’s clear Google has listened to concerns from Congress and the public about harmful content and the role of content moderation,” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice.
“Google rightly met with voices from across the political spectrum to craft these fair and effective rules.”
“We should all celebrate Google’s move to increase transparency and make YouTube better for its users and advertisers,” continued Szabo. “Google is ensuring that YouTube prevents the spread of cruelty online – regardless of political affiliation.”
“The Justice Department’s investigation of Google will come to the same conclusion as the FTC’s did in 2013 — that there is no antitrust case,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel.
“It’s illogical that the DOJ is investigating competitors in the same market for monopoly behavior. Amazon, Apple, and Google all compete with each other in a vibrant and competitive marketplace.”
“Consumers don’t have antitrust concerns with America’s tech industry. NetChoice polling from August 2018 shows that less than 5% of consumers say antitrust enforcement should be most focused on tech,” continued Szabo.
“Pointless antitrust attacks on American businesses risks stalling-out America’s tech leadership as competition from China is fiercer than ever before.”
Today Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Facebook was a “willing enabler of the Russian interference in our elections.”
“Facebook is taking extraordinary steps to protect our democracy. This type of hyperbole makes it hard to identify the real bad actors,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President of NetChoice. “Speaker Pelosi’s accusation that Facebook is a “willing enabler” of Russian interference in our elections is false and over-the-top. It’s obvious that Facebook is hugely invested in ensuring that its platform won’t be misused to aid election interference,” continued Szabo.
“Hyperbolic attacks on platforms won’t help solve the tech issues of today,” said Szabo.
Today, Sen. Hawley announced the introduction of the “Do Not Track Act.” The bill claims to give consumers the right to use online services without allowing those services to use interest-based advertising.
“This bill harms consumers and competition,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “By preventing the use of interest-based ads, this bill will result in more ads, more paywalls, and less content.”
“Sen. Hawley’s bill undermines small online businesses trying to compete with large incumbents by preventing them from making the most from their smaller user base. This bill most helps large businesses with trusted names while kneecapping future competitors.”
“Sen. Hawley’s bill doesn’t give users more rights over their data, it gives users the right to use online platforms without paying for them.”
Today, NetChoice filed, alongside Chris Cox, Former Member of Congress and Co-Author Of CDA Section 230, an amicus brief in HomeAway and Airbnb v Santa Monica. As the brief outlines, “the Panel opinion in this case upends the well-established meaning of the words of Section 230, and will have dramatic consequences by overriding the intent of Congress.”
“The prior Panel ruling by the ninth circuit violates the very principles Section 230 put into law and if left in place risks closing-off avenues for free enterprise and free speech for all Americans. We expect and support an overturning of the prior ruling,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice.
“Section 230 empowers individuals and businesses all over the country through the use of online platforms like HomeAway and Airbnb,” continued Szabo. “The prior decision runs contrary to multiple 9th Circuit decisions that have upheld Section 230 and enabled unprecedented innovation.”
The full amicus brief can be read here.
Today, Marriott announced the US rollout of their new home sharing division.
“Marriott has spent the last few years attacking home sharing. This confirms that the big chain hotel association, AHLA was just kneecapping new competitors while its large scale members scrambled to develop their own home sharing platforms,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.
“Now that big hotel chains embrace the benefits of home sharing, AHLA should cease fear-mongering about home sharing and protect the rights of homeowners to earn income on their properties.”
“The expected fine demonstrates to consumers and European regulators that the FTC is serious about privacy,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “The fine shows that American businesses should not trust any Cambridge University professor who promises to protect user data.”
“A multi billion dollar settlement is vastly greater than the UK’s $600,000 privacy fine and demonstrates the FTC is a serious enforcer of privacy laws,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “This is not a slam dunk case for the FTC. The FTC knows that if they overplay their hand they will lose in court.”
Today, NetChoice raised concerns about suggestions made by members of the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee that government should prevent online platforms from removing content they find objectionable ahead of today’s hearing, “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse”.
“If we prevent online platforms from removing objectionable content, we risk turning online platforms into 8-Chan,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel for NetChoice. “Section 230 was specifically created to enable private platforms to remove offensive content.”
“Online platforms have bolstered conservative speech in public discourse, empowering modern conservative thought leaders such as Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Blaire White,” continued Szabo.
“Sen. Cruz is a smart lawyer who surely wants online platforms to remove violent and hateful content, so he’s not really looking to apply the first amendment to private parties.” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “Sen. Cruz just wants assurances that online platforms are not curtailing conservative speech. We look forward to today’s witnesses giving him those assurances.”
Today, NetChoice was concerned by suggestions made during the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution Hearing: Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse to prevent platforms from removing content it finds objectionable.
“Despite the misinformation, Section 230 was specifically created to enable content moderation and removal of offensive content.” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice. “It’s surprising that conservatives support the Hobby Lobby decision while oppose the rights of private platforms to remove content they deem objectionable to users and advertisers.”
“Preclusions on platforms removing content would require ChristiansLikeMe to retain atheist’s “political” comments.” warned Szabo. “If we prevent online platforms from removing objectionable content we risk turning the whole internet into 8-Chan.”
Today, NetChoice commended Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) for leading the effort to combat discriminatory tax proposals coming from Europe.
“France’s Digital Service Tax’s (DST) targeting of U.S. companies is the poster child for taxation without representation,” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice. “These taxes are designed to target American businesses regardless of whether they’re physically present in Europe.”
“France’s DST ignores advertising by newspapers and television by only taxing online businesses, most of whom are housed in the United States. DST is obviously intentional and patently unfair,” continued Szabo. “We commend Rep. LaHood for his initiative in pushing the White House to protect America’s businesses and combat this tax by a foreign power.”
Today, NetChoice and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) voiced concerns over the “Journalism Competition and Preservation Act,” reintroduced by Rep. Cicilline (D-RI), and co-sponsored by Rep. Collins (R-GA).
The legislation would exempt media companies from certain antitrust laws, allowing them to collude against online platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
“This bill empowers big media to circumvent antitrust laws and collude to grow their power.” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel at NetChoice. “We should reject attempts by those representing the ‘old economy’ to maintain relevance and gain advantages to the detriment of the consumer.”
“This legislation empowers big media to force prioritization of their content over their competitors,” continued Szabo.
TPA President David Williams also voiced concerns with the legislation’s text arguing “Companies should get equal treatment under the law, instead of big media companies enjoying a lucrative exemption from antitrust laws.”
“Instead of complicating regulations via special carve-outs, lawmakers should look to simplify rules and promote digital innovation.”
Today, NetChoice was concerned by suggestions made by Sen. Cory Booker during a campaign event in Washington that suggested he could weaponize antitrust law against American tech companies.
“We are not seeing a call for antitrust enforcement but rather an attack on successful businesses,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. “Breaking-up America’s most successful innovators will leave a vacuum only to be filled by foreign enterprises.”
“Antitrust should not be exploited for political purposes – to do so undermines the American public’s trust in fair and honest enforcement of laws,” continued Szabo.
“The reaction to Sen. Warren’s antitrust proposal shows that Americans want fair rather than political enforcement of antitrust laws.”