September 20, 2017 | Article

SESTA Hearing Highlighted By Willingness To Find Compromise

“At Internet Association, we stand behind the goals of SESTA [the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017]. We want to see an end to sex trafficking online.”

That quote, given as testimony by IA’s own Abigail Slater during yesterday’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing, reflects our collective commitment to end online sex trafficking.

Fortunately, yesterday’s hearing showed positive signs of things to come, with both lawmakers and industry actors indicating they are open to compromise in order to achieve the mutual goal of ending child sex trafficking. It is essential that any bill allows Internet Association members to continue their significant efforts with law enforcement, anti-trafficking groups, and victims to confront this problem without unforeseen new liability.

IA reaffirmed in testimony yesterday its commitment to working with the Senate Commerce Committee, sponsors of the bill, and individual Members on how we can improve language in SESTA. We also stand ready to support legislation to make it easier for victims of these crimes to seek justice and hold perpetrators accountable in criminal and civil court.

The internet industry is not alone in looking for solutions that can improve SESTA. In fact, a bipartisan group of key Senate Commerce Committee Members used yesterday’s hearing to call for compromise on SESTA. Lawmakers, including Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) highlighted the need for the legislation to achieve its desired effects while avoiding unintended consequences that would make solving the problem harder.

The internet industry stands ready to support a SESTA compromise that enables the crucial and ongoing fight against sex trafficking online. Internet Association looks forward to our continued engagement with lawmakers on this critical issue as we find ways in which all well-intentioned parties can agree on the details of legislation.

September 19, 2017 | Article

Working Together to Combat Sex Trafficking

Today, Internet Association will testify before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on an critical issue to our nation: the effort to combat sex trafficking.

Internet Association member companies are 100 percent committed to the fight against sex trafficking. Criminal actors like Backpage.com must be fully and quickly brought to justice for their horrific crimes.

IA supports the goals of Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (S. 1693). The internet industry is actively working with the Senate on amendments that will ensure justice while also allowing the good actors IA represents to continue their efforts with law enforcement and NGOs to stop sex trafficking online. This can include targeted amendments to SESTA that allow victims to seek justice against perpetrators and bad actors that knowingly facilitating sex trafficking.

Legitimate internet companies are partners in the fight to combat sex trafficking. Technology is part of the solution to this problem, and our members have a long track record of working with law enforcement, anti-trafficking groups, and victims to stop illegal activity. Some examples of how we work together are provided in our testimony, and represent only a small snapshot of our companies’ work, which includes:

  • Robust community guidelines, internal policies, and proactive enforcement practices to remove content that promotes sex trafficking;
  • Working with law enforcement in all 50 states to actively take down illegal content and bring offenders to justice; and
  • Partnering with non-governmental organizations to help combat sex trafficking.

These efforts harness both significant financial resources from IA members and their engineering talent to help develop technological tools used to combat this heinous crime. For instance, the Spotlight tool developed by Thorn with support from several IA member companies. Spotlight is a web-based application used to detect and help rescue victims of sex trafficking. Today, Spotlight is used by 4,000 law enforcement officers at over 700 agencies nationwide. More importantly, it has been used to identify over 2,000 perpetrators of sex trafficking.

The internet industry remains committed to the fight to end human trafficking. We do not have to choose between justice against Backpage.com and protecting legitimate online services. This is not a binary choice.

There is also no single solution to this terrible problem. The fight against trafficking requires a multipronged approach and a committed partnership between the government and private sector to succeed. We look forward to continuing our work with Congress to improve SESTA to ensure victims get justice and we can ensure there are no future victims.

 

July 17, 2017 | Events, Virtuous Circle

Virtuous Circle on the Hill Recap

Internet Association President & CEO Michael Beckerman welcomed guests to the VC on the Hill conference, highlighting the ties between IA’s annual Virtuous Circle event in California and the day’s event in DC to bring together thought leaders on innovation policy.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) gave a keynote address emphasizing the ongoing importance of net neutrality rules for online platforms. Congresswoman Eshoo also emphasized the need to ensure digital issues remain bipartisan issues, and recognized the ongoing need for more high skilled immigration to ensure the best and brightest remain in the US.

Senator Ron Wyden delivered a keynote address on the state of digital trade, calling for an updated NAFTA framework that includes key provisions for the digital economy, including modern customs rules, balanced IP framework, and intermediary liability protections modeled after Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

A panel of IA companies, including Etsy, eBay, Google, and Amazon, discussed opportunities for new digital trade provisions in the upcoming NAFTA negotiation. Etsy, Amazon and eBay highlighted the need for small sellers to be able to cross borders without onerous customs provisions, and all companies emphasized the need for the free flow of data and balanced IP.

Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) discussed the importance of the internet to businesses nationwide, highlighting her focus on broadband access as a new member of the Senate Commerce Committee as well as the Capito Connect Initiative in her home state.

IA Chief Economist Christopher Hooton presented the findings of a new report from NERA on the economic value of the U.S. safe harbors, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and Section 512 of the Copyright Act. A panel of experts from R Street, Engine, FreedomWorks, and the Center for Democracy and Technology discussed the ongoing need for both safe harbors to remain robust for the promotion of innovation and creativity. The panel agreed that US leadership in this area was critical for both free speech and startup growth, and agreed that even attempted to “narrowly” amend the laws would undermine positive growth for the online ecosystem.

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) discussed the ongoing need to innovate here in the US and around the world, advocating for free trade agreements and a strong commitment to free market development of new idea and technologies.

Online sellers and micro businesses held a luncheon discussion about the ability to engage in the flexible economy through online platforms. Participants highlighted that opportunities provided by the gig economy allowed them to supplement earning potential with the freedom to chose their own hours according to individual needs, and the ease of entering into these new ventures was a key driver of their success.

IA Senior Vice President Gina Woodworth led a fireside chat with Matt Lira, Special Assistant to the President for Innovation Policy and Initiatives. Matt highlighted that the White House’s tech week in June was the start of a continuing dialogue over how to modernize government and harness the power of technology to improve operations. Matt also emphasized the importance of an inclusive and robust conversation with thought leaders and technologists to achieve shared goals across the political spectrum.

 

July 17, 2017 |

Net Neutrality Day Of Action Quick Recap

Our work to save net neutrality is not over, but with your help, the FCC has millions of new comments calling for the preservation of strong net neutrality rules.

We wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who visited IA on the Net Neutrality Day of Action to help preserve the free and open internet.

If you didn’t get a chance to file a comment yet, it’s not too late! Just visit IADayofAction.org and follow the instructions at the bottom of the page.

Stay tuned as we continue defend a free and open internet. You’ll hear from us when we have updates on net neutrality or other internet issues, livestreamed interviews with policymakers, or anything else we think you might be interested in.

July 6, 2017 | Article

Eliminating Internet Safe Harbors Hurts The U.S. Economy

One of the most important parts of the internet – and what makes it so attractive and useful to so many people – is the ability to search for and store information at the click of a button. Intermediary liability safe harbors play a critical role in making that possible.These safe harbors protect internet platforms (called intermediaries) – such as Google, Dropbox, Facebook, Snap, among others – from being held liable for the content of their users, ensuring consumers can experience the internet that we’ve come to know and love.

Put in place in 1996 and 1998 respectively, Congress established two intermediary safe harbors – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and Section 512 of the Copyright Act enacted by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – to create space for innovation and spur investment to further develop the internet’s capabilities.

So what would happen if they disappeared?

New economic analysis from NERA Economic Consulting took a look at the very question by estimating the impact of reducing the protections offered by safe harbor laws.

The analysis finds weakening intermediary liability safe harbor protections would significantly reduce economic activity in the internet sector, causing the U.S. economy to lose 4.25 million jobs and nearly half a trillion dollars in the next 10 years. That’s equivalent to giving away the annual GDP of Iceland, Jamaica, and Nicaragua combined and firing all McDonald’s workers in the U.S each year.

As one of America’s most dynamic and successful industries, the internet sector is driving economic growth, doubling its share of the U.S. economy between 2007 and 2014. Reducing liability protections not only hurts the internet sector; it harms the entire U.S. economy.

To quantify the impact of making intermediaries responsible for all user content, researchers used consumer surveys focused on two internet intermediary services – search engine and cloud storage – to calculate the average decrease in consumer use of these services and resulting estimated decrease in revenue. The findings? The fall in consumer demand due to more advertisements (in search engines) and higher costs (for cloud services) would result in a combined 10 percent revenue drop for these services, resulting in lost jobs and reduced economic activity.

But internet intermediaries include far more than these two services; they span data storage, internet access, internet telephony, cloud computing, social media, internet advertising, and e-commerce to name a few. The NERA analysis applies the 10 percent revenue drop as an indicator of the economic impact to the entire internet sector, of which search engine and cloud services make up only 18 percent.

By applying the findings to all intermediaries, the study finds that without internet liability:

  • The U.S. economy would lose an estimated $44 billion in GDP & more than 425,000 jobs each year. That’s equivalent to giving away the annual GDP of Iceland, Jamaica, and Nicaragua combined and firing all McDonald’s workers in the U.S.
  • Internet startups would face higher entry costs, limiting innovation. Without intermediary liability safe harbors, startups – and the VC’s that fund them – won’t be able to test new ideas without facing unreasonable liability and high expenses.
  • Consumers would face higher costs and worsened online user experience. It is economically and technologically unfeasible for platforms to screen third-party content at scale. Loss of the intermediary liability safe harbors would mean fewer and worse services online.

Safe harbor protections were put in place for a reason. With a thriving internet economy, American businesses and consumers are able to connect with billions of people to access and share information. Even more, they are now depending on services such as ride-sharing apps, e-commerce sites, and social media – all of which are enabled by an internet that allows for free expression and content creation.

Safe harbor laws provide a foundation for innovation and drive economic growth. Preserving them is key to ensuring the best internet and economy for America.

Read NERA’s full report here.

WATCH: #NetNeutrality & Your Internet Service Provider: An Investment Story: http://bit.ly/2qZgq2c

RELEASE: Internet Association Outlines Priorities For NAFTA Modernization bit.ly/2sOjhYb #digital #trade

WATCH: IA President & CEO Michael Beckerman sat down with BNA’s Michaela Ross to talk #netneutrality, digital #trade & more http://bit.ly/2rBTeH6

Wanna Stop WannaCry? New from IA President & CEO Michael Beckerman in The Hill: bit.ly/2rTRXIb

IA’s Statement On The FCC’s #NetNeutrality NPRM Vote To Reverse The 2015 #OpenInternet Order http://bit.ly/2rvwANi

Latest News

IA Vice President, State Government Affairs, Dustin Brighton released the following statement on Illinois Gov. Rauner’s veto of the Geolocation Privacy…

Read more news »

Stay Updated

Send me IA updates
I'm a member of the press