Monthly Archives: August 2015

August 27, 2015 | Letters, News, Press Releases

Letter to House Ed & Workforce Committee Urging Changes to FERPA Update

Beckerman: “Any effort to enshrine a strong national standard for data security must clearly outline the rules of the road for Internet companies and their users.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Internet Association sent a letter to the leadership of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and sponsors of the Student Privacy Protection Act of 2015 (H.R. 3157). The letter calls for revisions to controversial provisions in the Student Privacy Protection Act 2015 (H.R. 3157). The revisions are necessary to safeguard the user data and privacy of students and their families, while creating a strong national standard that the industry can work with.

As it stands, H.R 3157 creates a contradictory labyrinth of data security legal frameworks that Internet companies and their employees must circumnavigate. Since H.R. 3157 does not preempt state data breach statutes, industry must monitor over 40 different sets of state laws in addition to its provisions. The letter also outlines how the bill would “impose vague security requirements, including notice requirements triggered by a ‘breach of the security practices,’ which theoretically could include common employee errors such as failing to properly sign-in a visitor or failing to logout of a computer when going to get coffee for 5 minutes.”

“Any effort to enshrine a strong national standard for data security must clearly outline the rules of the road for Internet companies and their users,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association. “As the bill is currently drafted, companies may find themselves having to send multiple notices to the same consumers. These provisions will result in over-notifying consumers and unnecessary compliance burdens.”

Beyond its impact on consumers, the letter also highlights the impact that H.R. 3157 would have on ed-tech providers. The bill refers to “commonly accepted industry standards on privacy protections,” with no reference to the standards. As the letter explains, “In reality, these standards vary significantly according to the sensitivity of the personal information involved.”

“Earlier this year, the Internet Association gave constructive (but not unequivocal) support to the Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015 since it preempted all state data breach statutes, contained a narrowly crafted harm trigger, and did not create rulemaking authority. It sought to create a true national standard to protect consumers while recognizing legitimate industry concerns about the cost of compliance with its provisions. As currently drafted, H.R. 3157 has yet to achieve these goals,” Beckerman concluded.

To read the full letter, click here.

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August 26, 2015 | News, Press Releases

Video: It’s Time to Stop Patent Trolls

BECKERMAN: “It’s hard to fully appreciate the damage patent trolls inflict on businesses of all sizes. It is time for Congress to solve this problem by passing patent reform legislation this year.”

 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Internet Association released a video featuring Van Lindberg, Rackspace Vice President of Intellectual Property, explaining the company’s decision to aggressively fight patent trolls.

“We made the business decision to fight – every time, every troll, every patent,” says Lindberg in the video. “And since then, we’ve been fighting, and we’ve been winning, but it’s expensive, and it’s hard.”

Lindberg’s comments come as Congress is set to return from recess, with patent reform legislation still present on its to-do list. For years, companies from Main Street to Silicon Valley have been forced to expend precious resources to fight back against patent trolls – shell companies that use vague and overly broad patents to threaten expensive lawsuits and extract cash settlements from victims. These patent trolls have cost businesses billions of dollars in the past decade, and estimates show that the cost for most businesses to defend themselves in court against a patent troll can range between $2 and $9 million per suit.

“It’s hard to fully appreciate the damage patent trolls inflict on businesses of all sizes,” said Internet Association President & CEO Michael Beckerman. “It is time for Congress to solve this problem by passing patent reform legislation this year. People should not live in fear that defending yourself against a frivolous lawsuit could lead to bankruptcy.”

Unfortunately, trends in patent troll lawsuits are only getting worse. A recent report released by Unified Patents shows that 2015 is on pace to have the most patent infringement lawsuits of all time, with patent trolls responsible for 68 percent of these lawsuits. If these litigation rates hold for the rest of the year, then there would be a record 6,100 patent lawsuit filings in 2015.

“People are starting to use the legal system as a cudgel to beat other people with, exploiting this inefficiency in the legal system to extort settlements,” says Lindberg.

Ultimately, what’s at stake is the ability for small businesses and individuals to innovate. Lawsuits from patent trolls are stifling innovation and making consumers worse off because companies are having to waste valuable resources on hiring lawyers, instead of creating better and more efficient products and services.

“This was such a threat to innovation, and innovation was so important to us that we had to fight,” says Lindberg.

It’s time for Congress to stand up for the innovators of America and pass legislation that prevents patent trolls from using the legal system as a weapon.

To watch the video online, click here.

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August 14, 2015 | News, Press Releases

The Internet Association And Its Members Host After-School All-Stars STEM Summer Camp, Highlight Opportunities Across Tech Industry

Beckerman: “By introducing students to the exciting career opportunities in the Internet sector today, they will apply themselves in school and become the Internet founders and engineers of tomorrow.”

 

New York, NY—This week, the Internet Association, in partnership with several of its member companies, hosted 50 middle school students and staff from low-income communities in New York City and Newark participating in After-School All-Star’s STEM CampUs.  The camp is funded in part with funds received from the Internet Association Charity Gala, which raised $75,000 for After-School All-Stars this year.

Over the course of the camp, students attended classes with a curriculum focused on developing an understanding and awareness across science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. The goal of the camp is to help prepare students for high school, college, and ultimately, dynamic careers in the high growth technology sector. During the week-long intensive program, students build a robot and participate in an Innovation Challenge, which gives them the opportunity to use what they learned in a practical setting.

“By introducing students to the exciting career opportunities in the Internet sector today, they will apply themselves in school and become the Internet founders and engineers of tomorrow. Our partnership with After-School All-Stars is vital because they are helping students develop the foundation necessary for success in the innovation economy,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association.

As part of their program, students met with representatives from the Internet Association and its members, including Amazon, Facebook, Gilt, and Twitter, to gain a real world understanding of what different functional roles exist within Internet companies.

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About After-School All-Stars
Founded in 1992, After-School All-Stars (ASAS) is a leading national provider of year-round, school-based, comprehensive afterschool programs. The organization’s mission is to keep children safe and help them succeed in school and in life. Every school day, students in low-income communities have access to free programs that offer academic support, enrichment opportunities, and health and fitness activities. Nearly 75,000 children from 15 U.S. regions benefit: ASAS serves Atlanta, Chicago, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Newark, New York, North Texas, Ohio, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, South Florida and Washington, D.C, and starting in fall 2015, Cleveland and Tampa. For more information, visit www.as-as.org

About the Internet Association
The Internet Association, the unified voice of the Internet economy, represents the interests of the leading Internet companies including Airbnb, Amazon, Auction.com, Coinbase, eBay, Etsy, Expedia, Facebook, FanDuel, Gilt, Google, Groupon, IAC, Intuit, LinkedIn, Lyft, Monster Worldwide, Netflix, Pandora, PayPal, Pinterest, Practice Fusion, Rackspace, reddit, Salesforce.com, Sidecar, Snapchat, SurveyMonkey, TripAdvisor, Twitter, Uber Technologies, Inc., Yahoo!, Yelp, Zenefits, and Zynga. The Internet Association is dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect Internet freedom, foster innovation and economic growth, and empower users

August 7, 2015 | News, Press Releases

Internet Association to File Amicus Brief in Support of Open Internet Rules

Beckerman: “The Internet industry believes strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable net neutrality rules that apply to both mobile and fixed broadband are necessary to protect the user experience online.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, as challenges to the FCC’s net neutrality rules work their way through the court system, the Internet Association filed a notice with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that it intends to file an amicus brief in support of the FCC’s Open Internet Order.

“The Internet industry believes strong, enforceable, and legally sustainable net neutrality rules that apply to both mobile and fixed broadband are necessary to protect the user experience online,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association. “For the Internet to flourish, it is essential that rules be established that ban paid prioritization, blocking, and other forms of discrimination regardless of how a user decides to connect to the Internet,” Beckerman concluded.

The Internet Association – comprised of 35 leading Internet companies – is the first group to file notice in their intent to support the FCC’s case through an amicus brief.

To read the filing, click here.

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August 5, 2015 | News, Press Releases

Joint Letter on Terrorist Activities Reporting

Beckerman: “…requiring Internet companies to provide law enforcement enormous quantities of data will not make us safer and would make it more difficult for law enforcement to find real threats.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Internet Association, Reform Government Surveillance, and the Internet Infrastructure Coalition sent a letter to Senate leadership calling on them to remove the controversial Section 603 from the Intelligence Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2016.

Section 603 creates an unworkable standard that mandates Internet companies to report facts and circumstances connected to the vague and overly broad term “terrorist activity.” The letter outlines how the provision “would result in overbroad reporting to the government, swamping law enforcement with useless information and potentially raising First Amendment concerns and privacy concerns for the user who posted the item.”

“All of our members want to eliminate terrorist activity on their platforms, and they work tirelessly to ensure that Internet platforms are being used legally,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association. “But requiring Internet companies to provide law enforcement enormous quantities of data will not make us safer and would make it more difficult for law enforcement to find real threats.”

“Under the cover of a closed door debate and without public input, this unworkable proposal has vast implications for Internet companies and free speech online. Section 603 creates a dangerously broad and vague reporting requirement that would subject millions of innocent users to unreasonable government surveillance. This proposal is in conflict with longstanding federal policy governing platform liability and free speech online, and should be removed from the Intelligence Authorization Bill,” Beckerman concluded.

The letter also highlights the global implications of the Section 603 proposal. “Finally, if adopted, the provision would risk serving as a global template for other countries to impose reporting requirements for activities those jurisdictions deem unlawful. This would be particularly problematic with countries that regulate speech, including political speech, and with authoritarian regimes that would demand that Internet companies police their citizens’ activities,” the letter states.

To view the letter, click here.

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August 5, 2015 | News, Press Releases

Internet Association Files Comments With The Federal Trade Commission On The Sharing Economy

Beckerman: “It is unsurprising that incumbent industries do not want to compete with the sharing economy. Regulators should be careful not to inadvertently advance their anti-competitive agendas.”

 

Washington D.C. – The Internet Association submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in response to the FTC’s Sharing Economy Workshop. The comments outline the importance of enacting regulations for the sharing economy that work to protect and promote the interests of consumers and the micro entrepreneurs who benefit from the sharing economy.

“It is unsurprising that incumbent industries do not want to compete with the sharing economy. Regulators should be careful not to inadvertently advance their anti-competitive agendas,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association. “A vibrant sharing economy means lower prices and higher quality services for consumers and the communities in which they live.”

The comments look to inform the debate about how to strike a balance between encouraging competition and protecting consumers. Specifically, the comments urge regulators to recognize the benefits of participating in the sharing economy – including the mechanisms already have in place to ensure user safety – when considering appropriate regulatory measures.

“Sharing economy platforms have evolved to the point where existing consumer safeguards makes the services safer than the incumbent competitors looking to stifle competition,” Beckerman concluded.

To view the full comments, click here.

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Latest News

Top Internet Business Leaders Confirmed To Speak At Internet Association’s Third Annual Virtuous Circle Summit BECKERMAN: “The value of the Virtuous Circle Summit is the conversations that take place when you bring together the leading voices in the internet innovation and policy space.” Washington, DC — Today, Internet Association announced its initial list of confirmed speakers Read more »

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