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Digital Liberty blog

FCC Oversteps, Shot Down in 6th Circuit By Daniel Savickas | August 11, 2016

Courts have finally intervened on an instance of Federal Communications Commission executive overreach.

The 6th Circuit Federal Court issued a repudiation of the FCC’s order that rolled back laws in both Tennessee and North Carolina that restricted the development of municipal broadband networks in two of the states’ cities.

The following can be attributed to the Executive Director of Digital Liberty, Katie McAuliffe:

“The FCC’s municipal broadband order is just the latest in a series of regulations that makes it the poster child for executive overreach. The Court’s decision is important in stopping this continued overreach and gives the private sector, and state governments a chance to breathe, so they can improve broadband access as they see fit.”

The FCC based its intrusion into state law on their mandate to promote competitive broadband. However, the court rightly ruled that the FCC's involvement only applies to private broadband competition and does not give it the authority to intervene in state laws governing municipal governments.

Arrest of Torrent Site Head Raises IP Concerns By Daniel Savickas | July 22, 2016

US Government officials announced the arrest of a man connected to the Internet’s largest torrent site for criminal copyright infringement and money laundering. The site, Kickass Torrents, enjoyed over 50 million visitors per month and generated over $1 billion in revenue off of illegally reproduced movies, TV show, and music albums.

Intellectual Property (IP) has a significant effect on the US economy. The protection of Intellectual Property Rights accounts for more than 40 million jobs in the United States, and allows the US to be global leaders in innovations around the world in areas like healthcare.

Sensenbrenner Introduces "No Regulation Without Representation Act" By Daniel Savickas | July 20, 2016

On Thursday, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the “No Regulation Without Representation Act” in the House of Representatives. This bill prevents state governments from imposing regulatory burdens on citizens and businesses in other states.

This follows an increasing problem of states trying to increase their own revenues by shifting economic burdens onto other states. Included in this trend is a South Dakota law that resulted in Amazon cutting off service to the state, and a California law that threatens farmers in surrounding states.

The Sensenbrenner bill requires that businesses have a physical presence in the state in order for these states to export taxes and regulatory burdens onto taxpayers who have no representation.

Congressman Sensenbrenner said of his bill:

“States should not have the ability to tax non-citizens, plain and simple. This legislation would help reduce burdensome overregulation, keep government overreaches in check, and ensure that only residents of a state are subjected to tax obligations.”

Utah Straddles Fence on Nexus Legislation By Daniel Savickas | July 20, 2016

A California law threatens the economies of various other states, and imperils the federalists system that has allowed states to be laboratories of democracy for years.

AB 1437 is an animal welfare law passed that requires all eggs sold in California must have originated from producers that have chicken cages of a certain, larger size. This has wide potential to have detrimental effects on the economies and citizens in the rest of the nation.

Six states (Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky, and Iowa) have filed appeals, while another (Utah) filed an amicus brief decrying the law as well.

The glaring irony in the midst of Utah’s eloquent, passionate defense of federalism and democracy is that a large chunk of the Utah delegation is supporting the the Remote Transactions Parity Act (HR 2775). This bill would make laws eradicating state borders legal.

Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz is the primary sponsor of the bill, and Mia Love, another member of the Utah delegation, is one of the co-sponsors.

FCC Approves Highband Spectrum Plan to Advance 5G By Daniel Savickas | July 14, 2016

The FCC is primed to release key swaths of spectrum that could potentially speed up the arrival of 5th Generation (5G) technology and allow for more efficient innovation. The Commission held on open meeting today where they unanimously approved a plan to make 11gigahertz of spectrum in bands above 24 GHz available for flexible use.

The FCC Commissioners hailed this as a chance to take technology to the next level, and allow America to lead the charge. Commissioner Ajit Pai, at the hearing, urged the FCC to continue to be aggressive in unleashing more and more spectrum to allow innovators to best benefit consumers.

Most wireless data providers are enthusiastic to jump on this opportunity, as they should be. This is an excellent chance for the industry to innovate, and more needs to be done. Companies should jump at this chance to innovate, so they can deploy 5G networks sooner, rather than later.

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on FCC Privacy Policies By Daniel Savickas | July 12, 2016

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology held a hearing today assessing the impact that the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) privacy policies will have.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator John Thune began the hearing by deriding the FCC’s policies. The FCC, he said, is a novice in safeguarding the Internet, and FCC policies have detracted from years of successful oversight by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Thune’s sentiment was echoed repeatedly throughout the hearing by other members of the Committee, as well as witnesses. Dean Garfield, President and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, said, “Changing policy from years of success to something that is clearly not workable, is just change for the sake of change.”

Congressman Tom Emmer Speaks on Importance of Intellectual Property By Daniel Savickas | July 08, 2016

At a lunch briefing by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, an expert panel gave a detailed analysis on the dire need to protect intellectual property rights, and outlined the consequences for small businesses across the country if we don’t.

Congressman Tom Emmer (R- Minn.) started off the discussion by urging attendees to recognize that intellectual property is the issue that will define the United States for years to come, “The future of growth in this country,” he said, “will be based on ideas.”

He continued with a powerful defense of American small business owners and entrepreneurs by asking, “How can we incentivize our businesses to create the next big idea if it won’t mean anything?”

Emmer’s words ring true. If the United States does not protect the intellectual property of its citizens, their livelihood, and our economy will suffer as a result, and the spirit of innovation that has driven this nation will fade.

US Must Take More Steps to Advance the Internet By Daniel Savickas | June 23, 2016

The United States has a unique opportunity to seize control of its Internet future. In our modernizing and technologically advanced world, there is no reason to think that the Internet is not going to have a place at the forefront of society in the years to come.

In order to ensure that the US is leading the charge on this front, it is vitally important that we continue to open up swaths of broadband spectrum.

There is currently a wireless auction of 600 mHZ spectrum happening, but this is merely the first step in what needs to be a grand spiral staircase in the pursuit of bold innovation. If the FCC manages to keep a constant flow of spectrum to data providers, the possibilities will be endless.

There is currently bipartisan agreement amongst the Commissioners at the FCC that the success of the 4G LTE networks needs to be replicated for future 5G networks. This success came from the FCC’s willingness to auction off 4G spectrum.

Cruz, Others Rally to Preseve Integrity of the Internet By Daniel Savickas | June 13, 2016

The Obama administration took another step forward on Thursday to ensure the US loses its key oversight role in ensuring the Internet stays open, and out of the hands of authoritarian governments.

Multiple bills dropped this week to delay and stop this transition. Senators Ted Cruz (Tex.), James Lankford (Okl.), and Mike Lee (Ut.) introduced the Protecting Internet Freedom Act in the Senate, accompanied by a companion bill sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy (Wis.). Senator Cruz recently hailed this bill as "the last chance to save the Internet."

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) currently has control of domain name oversight, but is responsible to the US government. Under the current plan, this would change.