Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Internet’
August 22nd, 2018 at 3:30 pm
ALERT: Urge Your Member of Congress Not to Become Pelosi’s Next Puppet on Internet Regulation
Posted by Print

Democrats in the House of Representatives – led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) – are pushing to reinstate Obama-era, big-government Title II regulations on the internet through a legislative procedure known as a Congressional Review Act (CRA). Now they are pressuring some Republicans to help them get to the 218 signatures needed to force a vote on the CRA.

The Pelosi-Doyle CRA is not about sound internet policy; it is a politically motived, partisan effort to restore a stifling “Mother-May-I” regulatory framework on the internet that has already proven to slow private investment in internet network infrastructure and cost well-paying jobs.

Call your representative in Congress now.  Tell her/him to not become Pelosi’s next puppet on internet regulation.  Ask her/him to oppose the Pelosi-Doyle CRA.

Make no mistake, Title II regulation is NOT “net neutrality.” Indeed, there is widespread agreement and support – Republicans, Democrats and stakeholders alike – for the core principles of “net neutrality.”

But instead of working on commonsense, bipartisan legislation that will truly protect those principles while at the same time enabling the internet to thrive, Pelosi, Doyle and others want to politicize the issue and are pushing for the internet to be regulated like a public utility under a bureaucratic framework that was crafted way back in the 1930s, well before the internet was ever invented.

Adding insult to injury, the Pelosi-Doyle CRA gives a free pass to big tech companies, like Facebook and others, for how they treat consumer privacy and data online – what most consumers really care about when using the internet.

Unfortunately, Pelosi and Doyle have managed to convince one Republican congressman thus far – Representative Mike Coffman (R – Colorado) – to sign their discharge petition and support the CRA.  And right now, they’re using Coffman’s support to pressure other Republicans to join their effort.

Call your representative in Congress now.  Tell her/him to not become Pelosi’s next puppet on internet regulation.  Ask her/him to oppose the Pelosi-Doyle CRA.

Congress has a golden opportunity to come together on commonsense legislation that holds all internet companies to the same standards and preserves the core principles of “net neutrality” without the hyper-regulatory approach of the CRA and Title II.

The Pelosi-Doyle CRA must be rejected. Please call your representative in Congress now.

May 31st, 2018 at 12:13 pm
Image of the Day: Paul Krugman’s Timeless Faceplant from 1998
Posted by Print

Paul Krugman, the political left’s favorite economist, claims quite a record for faceplant predictions.  Readers will recall his prediction on election night in November 2016 that markets would “never” recover from the ensuing crash that Donald Trump’s upset victory would trigger.

Here’s another timeless Krugman gem from 1998:

The Lefts Favorite Economist

The Left's Favorite Economist

April 12th, 2018 at 4:19 pm
Facebook Testifies Before Congress, but Where’s Google?
Posted by Print

Where’s Google?

That’s the question asked by Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, in an op-ed published by The Hill in the lead up to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s much-anticipated testimony before Congressional committees this week.

While Facebook understandably is dominating the news, Lee wrote, “Google’s data practices are perhaps even more troubling.”

Lee goes on to suggest that its time for all internet platforms, including Facebook, Google and others, to stop eschewing accountability:

As a threshold matter, platforms must accept that they play an important role in addressing the harms they enable. To date, their voluntary measures have fallen far short, largely consisting of asking outside groups like Wikipedia or Snopes.com to referee their problems. But non-profit encyclopedias and fact-checkers simply aren’t equipped to solve these problems, particularly those who might possess their own biases and motives. Platforms themselves can and should do far more to address illegal and illicit conduct they facilitate.

The internet has changed the way we communicate, conduct commerce and entertain ourselves. Growing concerns about the ease with which bad actors exploit it, however, undermines consumer confidence and erodes public trust. By eschewing accountability, dominant online platforms contribute to that downward spiral.
Read the entire op-ed here.

September 18th, 2017 at 12:19 pm
Great News: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Internet Sales Tax 66% to 21%
Posted by Print

For a long list of reasons that we’ve consistently highlighted, an internet sales tax allowing state authorities to tax people and businesses far beyond their borders is a destructive, indefensible idea.

On that front, there’s great news to report.  According to a fresh Rasmussen survey, this is one of those encouraging areas where fairness, policy wisdom and public opinion are in accord:

.

A majority of Americans do at least some shopping online, and they are not fans of taxing those purchases.  A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 66% of American adults oppose a sales tax in their state on items purchased online, even if the store they buy from is not in their state.  Just 21% favor an internet sales tax, while 13% are not sure.”

.

As much-needed comprehensive tax reform negotiations begin in Washington, some are advocating allowing an internet sales tax under the false banner “Marketplace Fairness Act” as part of the deal.  It’s encouraging to see that American voters aren’t buying it, no pun intended.

May 18th, 2017 at 12:35 pm
CFIF Applauds FCC Vote to Advance NPRM to Restore Internet Freedom
Posted by Print
ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) voted to advance a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal championed by Chairman Ajit Pai and Commisser Mike O’Reilly that would return federal internet regulatory policy to the light-touch approach that prevailed from the 1990s onward, until the Obama Administration FCC moved to reclassify the internet as a “public utility” in 2015.

In response, Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs Timothy Lee issued the following statement:

“Beginning in the 1990s, the internet flourished and transformed our world like no innovation in history for a simple reason:  Administrations of both political parties over two decades, beginning with Clinton/Gore, wisely chose a ‘light touch’ regulatory approach to the internet.

“Then in 2015, the Obama Administration FCC suddenly and radically reversed two decades of bipartisan consensus by moving to reclassify internet service as a ‘public utility’ under laws enacted in 1934 to regulate old-fashioned copper-wire telephone service.

There was no justification for that sudden reversal, and it was not based upon evidence, law or logic.  The internet obviously wasn’t ‘broken’ or in need of heavy-handed federal regulatory ‘fix.’  It was merely a scheme to extend government control over yet another sector of our economy.

“Nor was reclassifying the internet as a ‘public utility’ something the American public supports.  A recent Morning Consult survey confirms that an overwhelming and bipartisan 78% of voters prefer little or no government regulation of the internet, with only 12% favoring a heavy-handed regulatory approach.  A broad 51% to 33% majority believes that the internet shouldn’t be regulated as a public utility, and a two-to-one majority agrees that regulating the internet as a utility slows innovation and decreases private tech investment.

“Unfortunately, the Obama Administration FCC’s decision to reclassify the internet as some sort of Depression-era ‘public utility’ had immediate negative consequences, confirming the public’s expectation.  Domestic broadband capital expenditures declined by 5.6%, or some $3.6 billion, which marked the first time that such investment declined outside of a recession during the internet era.  That applied to both large and small internet service providers.

“Proponents of heavy-handed internet regulation continue to employ irrational scare tactics and hyperbole in their effort to regulate the internet more heavily, but their claims are contradicted by straightforward history and logic.  All reasonable people agree that the internet should remain free and open, which was how the internet operated for two decades across administrations of both parties under the light-touch regulatory approach.

“Accordingly, today’s FCC vote simply advances the ball to restore the bipartisan, light-touch regulatory consensus that existed for more than two decades.  This is precisely the sort of common sense that is badly needed in Washington, and CFIF applauds FCC Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly for moving to restore the regulatory wisdom that the American public overwhelmingly prefers.”

###

May 12th, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Favor FCC Chairman Pai’s “Light Touch” Internet Regulatory Approach
Posted by Print

Activists advocating heavy-handed internet regulation of the type pushed by the Obama-era Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pretend that they’re the ones crusading on behalf of everyday consumers.  The reality is that the internet flourished as no innovation in human history precisely because both the Clinton Administration and Bush Administration maintained a “light touch” regulatory stance from the FCC.

But then in 2015, the Obama Administration decided that it must “fix” an internet that wasn’t broken, through a narrow party-line FCC vote to regulate internet service as a “public utility” under 1930s laws enacted for copper-wire telephones.

The result:  internet infrastructure investment fell for the first time ever outside of an economic recession.

Fortunately, new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is restoring common sense by returning internet regulation to the “light touch” approach that worked for two decades and under Clinton and Bush.

Now there’s more good news, highlighted by the good folks over at the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI).  According to a new Morning Consult survey, Americans overwhelmingly favor a light-touch FCC regulatory approach toward internet service:

–  By an overwhelming 78% to 12% margin, voters support the government having little or no regulation of the internet, with 53% supporting a ‘light touch’ and 25% asserting that the government should not regulate the internet at all.

–  By an 18-point margin (51% versus 33%), voters say the internet should not be regulated as a public utility.

–  By a two-to-one margin, voters believe regulating the internet as a utility would slow innovation and decrease private tech investment.

–  Support for light-touch regulation is bipartisan, including 55% of Democrats, 52% of Republicans, and 52% of Independents.  Perhaps surprisingly, 21% of Democrats favor NO government regulation of the internet, along with 27% of Republicans and 26% of Independents.”

Chairman Pai is demonstrating admirable courage and leadership in restoring regulatory sanity at the FCC, and it’s always encouraging to confirm that the American electorate agrees with him.

May 27th, 2016 at 12:52 pm
“Reset” Fail: Russian Approval of U.S. Leadership at Record Low 1%
Posted by Print

In this week’s Liberty Update commentary “Captain America, Barack Obama and Surrender of U.S. Internet Authority” we highlight the Obama Administration’s uninterrupted pattern of foreign policy failure to illustrate one reason its plan to surrender oversight of the open Internet to the “international community” is a toxic idea.

Perhaps nothing better represents Obama’s record of failure better than Russia, where he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bungled their infamous “Reset” attempt.  For all of its efforts to placate Vladimir Putin to the detriment of U.S. allies like Poland and Ukraine, a new Gallup survey shows that Russians’ approval of U.S. leadership has fallen to a record low of 1%:

Just 1% of Russians approved of U.S. leadership in 2015 – the worst rating in the world last year, and the lowest approval Gallup  has measured for the U.S. in the past decade.  Remarkably, this is even worse than their previous record low 4% approval in 2014.”

It’s as if Obama and Clinton should receive commemorative shirts reading, “I Caved to Russian Dictators and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt.”   Regardless, neither Obama nor Clinton can claim a single substantive foreign policy success during their tenures.  It’s again something to keep in mind as the administration pursues its inexplicable goal of surrendering U.S. Internet oversight before he coasts into retirement and leaves the rest of us to deal with the consequences.

November 9th, 2015 at 10:11 am
TechNotes: Latest Evidence Surrendering U.S. Oversight of Internet Is a Dangerous Prospect
Posted by Print

CFIF opposes the Obama Administration’s effort to surrender longstanding U.S. oversight over the Internet to the so-called “global community” for many of the same reasons that surrendering any form of U.S. authority to international groups like the United Nations is a dangerous idea.

L. Gordon Crovitz, The Wall Street Journal’s weekly “Information Age” columnist, also opposes the prospective transfer of authority, and has emphasized the particular threat of Internet censorship by nations like China and Russia as a primary reason.  In today’s column entitled “China’s ‘Soft’ Power Exposed,” Crovitz highlights just the latest evidence justifying such fears.  Namely, witness the covert effort by the state-controlled China Radio International to control American radio stations:

Last week it came to light that Beijing’s state-run China Radio International secretly owns 60% of a U.S. company, G&E Studio, which leases stations and airtime in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco, among other cities.  Beijing uses similar subterfuges in Europe and Australia.  China went to great lengths to hide its role.  Reuters broke the story after deploying 39 reporters to investigate in 26 countries, including the review of ‘scores of regulatory, zoning, property, tax, immigration and corporate records, including radio station purchase contracts and lease agreements.”

So why does that matter?  Because it parallels other ongoing efforts to censor content from the global Internet, including control of .xyz domain addresses and words like “freedom” or “democracy” or even “1989,” which was the year in which the Tiananmen massacre occurred.  Fortunately, as we have highlighted, there’s something Congress can do.  And as Crovitz concludes, “Congress should ask the U.S. Commerce Department to explain why it would allow Icann – which it oversees for now via a contract intended to protect the open Internet – to become the global enforcer of the Chinese regime’s censorship against Chinese citizens.  China’s plan to censor Web addresses highlights the folly of the Obama Administration’s plan to end U.S. protection for the Internet.”

Good advice, and we agree.

October 13th, 2015 at 4:25 pm
Congress Stands Up Against Obama’s Attempt to Surrender Global Internet Oversight
Posted by Print

In March of 2014, the Obama Administration foolishly announced its intent to relinquish oversight of Internet domain name functions to the so-called “global stakeholder community.”

That is a dangerous idea for innumerable reasons, as observers like L. Gordon Crovitz of The Wall Street Journal have chronicled well.  Among other risks, consider the piracy threat that surrendering U.S. oversight poses to critical American artistic industries like music and film.  Online piracy already constitutes an enormous problem to those world-leading industries, and allowing Internet governance to drift into a Hobbesian global abyss would only exacerbate that.  Or consider the censorship threat, as Crovitz recently referenced:

Since the launch of the commercial Internet, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, has operated under a contract from the U.S. Commerce Department.  American oversight freed engineers and developers to run the networks without political pressure from other governments.  China and Russia can censor the Internet in their own countries, but not globally because Washington would block tampering with the “root zone” of Web addresses.”

Fortunately, some in Congress aren’t sitting passively as the Obama Administration attempt yet another international capitulation.  In a recent letter to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Senators Charles Grassley (R – Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R – Texas) and Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R -Virginia) and Darrell Issa (R – California) remind the Administration that it cannot dispose of U.S. property without Congressional consent:

The Internet as we know it has evolved from a network infrastructure first created by Department of Defense researchers.  One key component of that infrastructure is the root zone file, which the federal government currently designates as ‘a national IT asset.’  Creation of the root zone file was funded by the American taxpayer and coordinated by the Department of Defense, and the file has remained under United States control ever since.  Under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution, Congress has the exclusive power ‘to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States.'”

Surrender of Internet oversight to a “global community” increasingly dominated by the likes of China, Russia, Iran and other rogues poses a terrible risk.  Fortunately, our Constitution presents a roadblock to the Obama Administration’s latest folly.  Even more fortunately, we have people like Senator Grassley, Senator Cruz, Congressman Goodlatte and Congressman Issa ready and willing to defend it.

September 29th, 2015 at 3:45 pm
Progressive Policy Insitute Agrees: FCC Overregulation Threatens Private Internet Investment
Posted by Print

As we have consistently highlighted, overregulation by Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) poses a grave threat to private investment in Internet service, which has thrived over two decades during both Democratic (Clinton) and Republican (Bush) presidencies because of a deliberately light regulatory approach.

The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), in a report released this week, agrees.

In its fourth annual report on investment by American companies entitled “U.S. Investment Heroes of 2015:  Why Innovation Drives Investment,” PPI ranks the top 25 non-financial U.S. companies by their amount of domestic capital spending for 2014.  Notably, the survey highlights the danger that overregulation poses to investment and innovation, particularly in the telecommunications sector:

In the telecom industry, pro-investment policy should support ‘light touch’ regulation.  Here we have the makings of a natural experiment, since the FCC departed from this approach last February by imposing Title II regulations on broadband service.  So far in the first half of 2015, the telecom companies on our list are spending at an 11% slower pace than a year earlier.”

This offers yet another ominous warning, one that cannot be dismissed by Obama or Title II apologists as some sort of right-wing hit job.  The Clinton Administration commenced the regulatory “light touch” approach that PPI’s report references, which continued through the Bush Administration as the Internet remained one of the few bright spots in an otherwise troubled economy since 2008.  The PPI survey shows who the real extremists are, and thankfully offers a bipartisan roadmap for continued Internet investment and innovation:  less federal regulation, not more.

September 14th, 2015 at 2:58 pm
TechNotes: “ObamaNet Is Hurting Broadband”
Posted by Print

Throughout the “Net Neutrality” debate over whether the federal government should begin regulating Internet service under 1930s Depression-era laws intended for copper wire telephone service, we and others have warned that Obama Administration efforts to impose such regulation would dangerously stifle private investment and innovation in the telecommunications sector.

In his weekly “Information Age” column today, L. Gordon Crovitz highlights how quickly our somber prediction has proven true.  In “Obamanet Is Hurting Broadband,” Crovitz summarizes how “The predictable effect of more regulation has arrived:  Investment is plummeting”:

New data show the Obama Administration’s decision to regulate the Internet as a utility has already caused a steep drop in Internet Investment…  [I]n the first half of 2015, as the new regulations were being crafted in Washington, major ISPs reduced capital expenditure by an average of 12%, while the overall industry average dropped 8%.  Capital spending was down 29% at AT&T and Charter Communications, 10% at Cablevision, and 4% at Verizon. (Comcast increased capital spending, but on a new home-entertainment operating system, not broadband.)  Until now, spending had fallen year-to-year only twice in the history of broadband:  in 2001 after the dot-com bust, and in 2009 after the recession.”  [emphasis added]

Since the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the Internet has thrived and played a central role in maintaining America’s status as the most prosperous, most entrepreneurial and most innovative nation in human history.  That didn’t happen by accident, nor was it due to coincidence.  Rather, it occurred precisely because the federal government during both the Clinton and Bush administrations refrained from suffocating it with destructive and politically-motivated overregulation.  But Obama apparently thought he had a better idea.  Unfortunately, we’re already witnessing the regrettable result.

Meanwhile, Gallup just released its annual survey of public approval of various sectors of American life.  Standing at or near the top once again are the computer industry, the Internet industry and the telephone industry, all with high net positives.  And at the bottom, once again, is the federal government, with an atrocious -29% net negative.

All of this suggests that we would likely be better off if the computer/Internet/telecom industries regulated the federal government, rather than vice-versa.

February 20th, 2015 at 10:36 am
Video: Stop the Government’s Internet Takeover
Posted by Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute video, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses the plan by President Obama and the FCC to seize unprecedented regulatory control over the Internet by reclassifying Internet service as a public utility. 

November 21st, 2014 at 10:20 am
Video – Title II: Obama Wants to Regulate the Internet
Posted by Print

In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses Barack Obama’s misguided push to have the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like a public utility under telephone and railroad laws drafted in the 1930s – long before the Internet (or computers, for that matter) was even invented.

 

August 8th, 2012 at 4:00 pm
Senator Rand Paul Proclaims the Need to Protect Intellectual Property

“I do believe in intellectual property. I do believe you have a right to your property.”

So said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in response to a question following his remarks during an event last week at the Heritage Foundation titled, “Will the Real Internet Freedom Please Stand Up?

In Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, our nation’s Founders specifically provided for the protection of intellectual property (IP) in order “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”  While the fundamental concept of providing artisans, authors and inventors exclusive right to their respective works and discoveries has remained relatively uncontroversial for most of the nation’s history, recent debates regarding what to do about widespread infringement over the Internet have caused some to diminish IP protection by setting it aside as merely some abstract, disposable ideal.

That mindset is dangerous, both in theory and in practice.

First and foremost, intellectual property is vital to free enterprise and drives economic growth. According to a recent study by the Global Intellectual Property Center, IP-intensive industries currently employ more than 55 million Americans and account for 74% of all U.S. exports and $5.8 trillion in GDP.  Without strong IP protections, the incentive to innovate is removed, drying up investment, stalling growth and progress, and thus undercutting the entire economy.

Little if any incentive would exist for an author to write the next great novel, Hollywood to produce the next cinema blockbuster or a pharmaceutical company to develop a cure for cancer if none of them are able to benefit economically from their works.

Moreover, when the importance of IP is diminished or dismissed altogether, its protection is afforded different levels of enforcement not on par with that of physical property.  But the concept of property should not be rooted in its physical existence.  Owning property is a contract that provides the title-holder specific rights that lead to economic benefits, not simply a plot of land. In that way, intellectual property is no different than any other form of property. 

Senator Paul gets it. In his remarks – previewed as “what could be the most significant talk on Internet freedom this year” by the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Bluey – Paul declared, “There are some libertarians who don’t believe in copyright. I am not one of them. I think you have to protect intellectual property.”

Senator Paul’s comments reveal that not only do some libertarians get IP wrong, but that all property needs protection and enforcement thereof. As evidenced by over 200 years of practice, patent, trademark and copyright protections promote the general welfare and lead to great economic advantages by driving innovation and developing capital. The end result comes in the form of countless benefits from millions of IP-intensive jobs, billions in exports and trillions in GDP spilling over to the rest of society.

Property, including intellectual property, is preeminent and deserves strong protections.

July 16th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Barack Obama Channels His Inner Elizabeth Warren
Posted by Print

2012  may be remembered as the year that Barack Obama dropped the mask. Based on his remarks at a campaign stop in Roanoke, Virginia on Friday, the president has no interest in making his peace with America’s entrepreneurs. In fact, his remarks there should make their blood run cold:


 

We’ve heard this rap before. It sounds suspiciously like Elizabeth Warren’s pep talk to a room full of agitated Boston liberals. But, if anything, Obama’s remarks are actually worse. Warren didn’t go so far as to denigrate hard work and intelligence, which the president seems to consider middling factors when it comes to being successful in life (note to the president: I’d absolutely love to meet these armies of workaholic geniuses who wouldn’t be succeeding without the federal government).

The asininity per square inch of this speech is pretty daunting, but here are a few corrective notes:

  • Notice the examples Obama uses — teachers, firefighters, and infrastructure. These are all (by relatively expansive definitions, anyway) public goods. If there were a caucus of conservatives out there advocating boarding up schools, abolishing fire departments, and moving to a system of rope bridges, the president would have a point, but these are generally uncontroversial examples of public expenditures. Moreover, they’re not areas that are primarily financed by the federal government. Left unsaid is why taxes should increase to fund green-energy boondoggles like Solyndra, PR efforts for the stimulus package, or six-figure salaries for the Interior Department’s Twitter monkey.
  • The constant liberal assertion that the economic growth of the 1990s — coming on the heels of Bill Clinton’s tax increases — shows that taxes don’t effect the broader economy confuses correlation with causation and ignores the effects of NAFTA, the IT revolution, welfare reform, etc. In truth, the 90s likely boomed less than they would have without Clinton’s tax hikes, something that the work of Obama’s own economic advisers suggests.
  • Liberals love to trot out the example of the internet as government innovation that works, but it’s worth noting that the internet wasn’t designed with commercial purposes in mind, but rather as a communications tool for the military. And, in fact, many of the lingering inefficiencies of the internet stem from its government paternity, and a whole host of the improvements that have been made to it owe to market forces.
February 21st, 2012 at 4:33 pm
U.K. Court Shows Rogue Website The Pirate Bay the Plank
Posted by Print

On Monday, a U.K. court took the wind out of The Pirate Bay’s sails via a ruling that may sink the popular file sharing website in England’s online seas.  Like other courts in other countries, that court ruled that The Pirate Bay is a copyright infringer because it actively encourages its 30 million worldwide users to engage in widespread theft.

The operators of The Pirate Bay — alongside many other illegal file sharing websites — don’t just passively violate laws.  Rather, they’re downright brazen in using online consumers as pawns for making millions of dollars from illicit activities – up to $3 million per month, according to expert testimony in this case.  The Pirate Bay again illustrates the toxic presence of bad actors out there on the Web who couldn’t care any less about whose property is stolen, whose jobs are threatened or even whose hard drives are being infected by online piracy.  The need to combat digital theft is therefore still very prevalent, and last month’s hysterical website blackout to protest proposed Congressional rogue sites legislation did absolutely nothing to address that issue.

The court will rule this summer on whether or not to block The Pirate Bay from U.K. Internet search results, but this decision comes on the heels of last summer’s blocking of a British content aggregator, Newzbin2, which also facilitated theft of copyrighted content en mass.  Which serves to show that site blocking is already underway in other advanced democratic nations, yet the Internet continues to thrive despite the false predictions of opponents of rogue website legislation.

It all goes to show that it’s time that we here in America also face the music.  Namely, that the U.S. remains behind in enforcing property rights, especially as relating to the online realm.  To be sure, the Internet should remain free within the bounds of law.  But it is not, should not, and cannot be lawless.  Outright theft does not become sacred simply because it occurs on the Internet, and the consequences are compounded when foreign criminal networks (e.g., MegaUpload) are turning illegal clicks into pocket-lining treasures.

July 15th, 2011 at 12:39 pm
CFIF to Congress: Fight Online Theft Through the PROTECT IP Act
Posted by Print

This week, CFIF joined dozens of employers, entrepreneurs and groups spanning the political spectrum on Capitol Hill to ask Congress to help put a stop to online theft by rogue websites that steal jobs and cost American businesses $135 billion annually.  In this era it is rare to find an issue that achieves almost complete consensus among ideologies and interest groups, but this is one.

Rogue websites steal intellectual property (IP) through counterfeiting, knockoff goods, piracy and misappropriation of movies, music, books and software.  Such thieves don’t pay taxes, they don’t follow American laws, they cut into American exports at a time of enormous trade deficits and they cut into our jobs and earnings.  Astoundingly, such sites constitute approximately 25% of all Internet traffic (53 billion visits per year), deceive honest customers, spread malware and even threaten lives and health with counterfeit pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Simply put, there is no justification or defense whatsoever for rogue websites.  So what to do?

Well, on May 12, 2011 Senators Orrin Hatch (R – Utah), Chuck Grassley (R – Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D – Vermont) along with nine other original co-sponsors  introduced S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act.  That legislation would at long last halt rogue site access to the American market and help secure the fundamental rule of law.  Because many rogue sites operate outside our borders, the Act would allow the Department of Justice or private individuals to obtain court orders halting search engine connections to sites proven through due process to be “dedicated to infringing activity.”  The Act would also require payment processors and online advertising networks to discontinue payments to rogue sites.

Chances are that you or others close to you are impacted by rogue websites causing inestimable damage to U.S. jobs and prosperity.  We can help put a stop to that travesty by supporting the PROTECT IP Act and asking our Senators and Representatives to do the same.

October 29th, 2010 at 3:18 pm
Net Neutrality: Leftist Website Desperately Attempts to Create False Consensus
Posted by Print

A group calling itself the “Progressive Change Campaign Committee,” which sounds so 2008 and even employs the same font and shade of blue as Obama’s “Organizing for America” page, is attempting to portray a false consensus in favor of new federal Internet regulation.

The group trumpets its success in getting 95 Democratic House and Senate candidates to sign a pledge favoring Internet regulation via so-called “Net Neutrality.”  But notice an interesting thing about those 95 candidates.  Namely, not a single one is in a race labeled “Solid Democrat,” “Likely Democrat” or even “Lean Democrat” by the Cook Political Report.  Not one.  Of the 95, 79 are in races labeled “Solid Republican,” with 11 in either “Likely Republican” or “Lean Republican,” and only five in races even labeled “Toss Up” by Cook.

In other words, this pledge is a “Hail Mary” by desperate candidates and Internet regulation advocates.  It also reflects the fact that significant majorities of Americans surveyed oppose new Internet regulation by the federal government.  The last thing the Internet needs right now is for the federal government to turn it into the tech version of ObamaCare, and voters shouldn’t be deceived by this sort of silly season antic.

September 17th, 2010 at 7:53 pm
Online Sales Tax Already on the Books in Most States

Interesting reading from MSNBC.com explains that 46 states, plus the District of Columbia, already have internet sales taxes on the books.  However, most businesses with an online presence either don’t know or don’t pay.  In many circumstances the sales tax (as it’s called when the seller collects and reports the tax) is turned into a use tax (i.e. shifting collection and reporting to the buyer.)

The State of Alabama is apparently sending out notices for residents to pay up – for purchases over the last three years.

Here’s a list of states considering more direct legislation in order to recoup the estimated $8.6 billion in lost “revenue.”

‘Amazon laws’

States that are currently considering requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes on online transactions:

• California
• Connecticut
• Illinois
• Iowa
• Maryland
• Minnesota
• New Mexico
• South Carolina
• Tennessee
• Vermont
• Virginia
• Wisconsin

Oh, joy.

September 17th, 2010 at 8:28 am
Podcast: Campaign to Stop ‘Net Neutrality,’ Internet Regulation Heats Up

Interview with Seton Motley, Editor in Chief of CFIF’s StopNetRegulation.org, regarding the ongoing efforts to stop the Obama Administration’s attempt to regulate the Internet.

Listen to the interview here.