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Digital Liberty blog

Dollars GON down the drain By Katie McAuliffe, Celeste Arenas | February 17, 2017

The experiment of government owned broadband networks (GONs) is over.  The experiment failed.  A failed experiment isn't a failure if we use the information to pursue another path. Continuing down a path of wasted dollars, however, is a failure.

Over 450 municipal broadband networks spread across the states have not delivered effective broadband for unserved Americans and they continue to lose taxpayer dollars. Four hundred and fifty is a more than adequate sample size to judge the ineffectiveness of GONs.

ATR joins coalition to oppose FTC midnight litigation By Katie McAuliffe, Celeste Arenas | January 30, 2017

The Trump administration could be saddled with numerous legal hurdles following last-minute litigation attempts by the previous government targeting American business interests. ATR recently signed a coalition letter against this kind of legislation.

Midnight litigation launched in the final days of the eight-year Obama administration is politically motivated, not policy oriented and fails to undergo the scrutiny of regular procedure. It has posed a direct threat to American businesses in the protection of intellectual property, setting a precedent for foreign entities to undercut patent property rights.

A substantial proportion of midnight litigation cases have been issued by the Federal Trade Commission, one suit involving Qualcomm was announced just three days prior to the President’s inauguration ceremony. 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai appointed by Trump administration By Katie McAuliffe, Celeste Arenas | January 24, 2017

President Donald Trump has officially elevated Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai to lead the agency as FCC Chairman. In response, Digital Liberty's Executive Director, Katie McAuliffe, issued the following statement:

“With an extensive background in telecommunications and notable proponent of high tech innovation, FCC Chairman Pai is the right person for the job. 

"Over the last few years, under the tumultuous and divisive reign of former Chairman Tom Wheeler, then Commissioner Pai, articulately and firmly vocalized his strong support of the First Amendment, fiscal responsibility and innovation that arises from free market competition. 

"He has consistently denounced threats to digital liberties including net neutrality, as well as opposing preemptive regulations and anti-competitive measures.

"Even in the melee, when his attempts were thwarted or flatly ignored by former Chairman Tom Wheeler, Chairman Pai did not turn his back or compromise.  

Pence and Sessions Should Oppose a Ban on Internet Gambling By Andreas Hellmann | January 12, 2017

Eight free-market groups urged Vice President-Elect Mike Pence and U.S. Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions to reject calls to ban online gambling using a pre-Internet 1961 law. 

The issue was raised on Wednesday this week by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) during the Senate confirmation hearing for Sessions.

The current action is to interpret the Federal Wire Act as creating a de facto prohibition on Internet gambling. Although prior administrations have chosen to interpret the Wire Act as creating a de facto prohibition on Internet gambling, this was clearly not the intent of Congress when it was enacted in 1961. Rather, the Wire Act only references bets and wagers on sporting events or other contests.

US Supreme Court decision not to hear DMV v Brohl is Bad Precedent for Consumer Privacy By Andreas Hellmann, Katie McAuliffe | December 14, 2016

The Direct Marketing Association's petition for certiorari, filed on August 29th, 2016, sought a reversal of the February ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which found constitutional Colorado's 2010 law imposing notice and reporting requirements on remote retailers that don't collect and remit sales and use taxes to the state.

The DMA argued Colorado's law violates the anti-discrimination doctrine of the dormant commerce clause by only requiring remote vendors to report consumer purchases to the state Department of Revenue and provide notice to purchasers of their obligation to pay Colorado's sales or use tax.

Unnecessary Barriers to Cross-Border Data Flow Create Considerable Obstacles to Global Trade By Andreas Hellmann | November 29, 2016

The rise of the digital economy via the Internet, wireless services, emails, and smartphones, has changed the way people communicate and do business. The internet is the new marketplace for businesses and people to buy, sell and interact. In the United States, over ninety percent of adults have a cell phone, and of those, over fifty percent have smart phones. Every phone call, Face-Time conversation, and online purchase requires the transfer of data from point A to point B and sometimes has to go to point C. 

The transfer of information is data flow, and data transferred across country borders is cross-border data flow. With the “Internet-of-Things,” machines communicate over the internet like TVs, smart home applications and vehicle automation require the transfer data over the internet, especially using wireless services.

Far from being exclusive to high-tech firms, data flows are used by almost all businesses and customers. The internet is designed to connect not only one country, but the world so cross-border data flow is very important in our everyday life.

Deregulation Key to FinTech's Success By Daniel Savickas | November 28, 2016

Small businesses are the back bone of the US economy. However, too many of them don’t have access to the necessary financial capital to stay afloat. It is also incredibly inefficient for these companies to provide the capital themselves.

This is why the Financial Technology (FinTech) industry has matured and expanded so rapidly in recent years. Investment in FinTech spiked from just $1.8 billion in 2010, to $12.2 billion in 2014, and is on pace to do well over $20 billion in 2016.

The "Truthiness" Factor: What is Fake News? By Daniel Savickas | November 28, 2016

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in shapes of your own choosing.” – George Orwell, 1984

Major media outlets, and even the government, deciding what is and is not the truth sounds like a plot ripped straight from the pages of an Orwellian dystopia. However, this is dangerously close to becoming a reality.

In light of an election that produced results very few in the upper echelons of the mainstream media saw coming, there is a concerted effort to censor what is now being labeled as “fake news” on social media. 

Social media is an open forum, similar to a town commons, that by design does not go through an editor.  Friends share thoughts and information and their audiences decide on their own what to give weight to.

Traditional media outlets that run everything through an editor with his or her own singular bias are still grappling with the general population's ability to inform each other through open forums, and its waining monopoly on the truth.

Free Data! Not if the FCC Can Help It By Katie McAuliffe | November 16, 2016

The Federal Communications Commission is once again extending its bureaucratic arm.  This time towards AT&T, in a supposed effort to protect consumers by shutting down the company’s “Data Free TV” program.

Yes.  The FCC is trying to make the case that giving customers more of what they want for free is consumer harm.  It appears Chairman Tom Wheeler's FCC wouldn't want any shampoo bottles with 20% more for free either.

 In a letter sent to AT&T’s Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs, Robert Quinn, the FCC asked AT&T to address concerns that this practice is anti-competitive.  This is in response to AT&T exempting DirecTV, which AT&T owns, from data caps for its mobile customers.

This type of action by the FCC borders on harassment, and is the latest in a long line of policies that harm consumers. 

EU Study Shows IP Protection Vital to Economic Success By Daniel Savickas | November 02, 2016

A new, recently-released study found that industries dependent on intellectual property rights (IPR) had booming effects on the European Union economy.

The economic effects did not stop there, as the study estimated that these IPR-intensive industries accounted for 42% of the EU economy, a total worth a little over $6.3 trillion. This positive impact also helped the EU garner a trade surplus, as the industries accounted for most of the EU’s external trade.

The benefits of protecting intellectual property rights in the EU, US, or around the globe cannot be understated.