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Digital Liberty blog

ATR & Digital Liberty support the Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act By Demri Scott and Brooke Starr | October 12, 2018

On October 11, Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore) introduced a bill to promote neutrality, simplicity, and fairness in the taxation of digital goods and digital services (S.3581). The bill establishes a framework that would protect Americans from being charged duplicative and discriminatory taxes online. A sister bill, H.R.7058, was introduced in the House on October 12. 

A similar bill (S.851/H.R.1643) was previously introduced in the 114th Congress by Senator Thune (R-S.D.) in the Senate and Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) in the House. The House bill made it through four separate committees and a mark-up before being ordered to be amended in June of 2015. The Senate bill was read twice then referred to the Committee on Finance.

California Passes Extreme Net Neutrality Bill By Demri Scott and Brooke Starr | October 01, 2018

Over the weekend, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a so-called net neutrality bill into law following the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of Title II regulations. Within minutes the Department of Justice sued California for “unlawfully [imposing] burdens on the Federal Government’s deregulatory approach to the Internet”

Digital Liberty Statement on FCC 5G Order By | September 07, 2018

This week, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr announced the Wireless Infrastructure Order, which would pave the way for 5G deployment.

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

“5G will revolutionize our lives whether it’s through telemedicine, IoT or automated vehicles, the opportunities are endless, and the FCC’s draft order clarifies a basic framework for localities to follow that will accelerate the deployment of 5G infrastructure.  

It sets guidance on reasonable cost recoupment fees, accounts for aesthetic review, and sets a timeline for approval process, all of which have been guided by and are in line with preexisting legislation at the state level.

We look forward to working with the Commission on this Order.”

Digital Liberty Submits Comments to the FTC Ahead of Hearings By Demri Scott | August 22, 2018

On August 20, 2018, Digital Liberty submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission ahead of Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.

In their comments, Digital Liberty highlighted the repeal of Title II regulations at the FCC, international tax laws that threaten innovation in Silicon Valley and the consequences of distorting the market through government intervention and regulation.

The comments detailed that:

Blockchain is the Future of Secured Voting By Perry Burton | August 09, 2018

Blockchain technology is being explored and developed at a rapid pace in multiple distinct industries ranging from agriculture to esports. But what can the technology offer the electoral system? 

The technology was originally popularized by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. In its most basic form, blockchain technology is an immutable ledger that records and tracks transactions. This system lends itself to a task that requires the utmost security and efficiency in as simple a gesture as pressing a button. 

The reason voters mill to polling stations is because anonymous voting in person is the best way to ensure integrity and privacy. In the past digital voting systems faced issues due to the conflict between verifying voter integrity and protecting voter anonymity.  

Blockchain assuages these issues with ease. 

The EU is Bad for American Business By Perry Burton | July 31, 2018

Earlier this month the EU fined Google a record $5.1 billion for engaging in competitive market practices. This is one of the most aggressive actions the EU has taken against the US technology industry. 

So, what did Google supposedly do wrong? 

The European Commission argues that Google—which owns and develops the Android operating system—has been pushing consumers to use Google Chrome. 

Senate Provisions on Rural Broadband in the Farm Bill Should Prevail By Katie McAuliffe | July 26, 2018

Rural Broadband is always a hot topic. Unfortunately, our fervor for internet connectivity has led to wasteful spending that does not do anything for those who are actually unconnected.

There are a number of programs throughout federal and state government to increase rural connectivity, but without proper targeting and coordination those programs are wasteful. There is an opportunity to fix the targeting of some of the Rural Universal Service fund administered by the Department of Agriculture in the Farm Bill.

Currently, and area is considered unserved if 15% of the population does not have access to a broadband provider. As a result, service providers would receive RUS funds for a particular block, but rather than build out to the 15% with no access, they would concentrate their builds on the other 85% that already have service. This is one of the reasons that even though we keep throwing money at rural broadband there are still people without access.

It is important to reform the standards for grants and loans, so if there is to be money strewn about, it goes to the people it was intended to help.

McAuliffe: New T-Mobile will Ensure Its Investments are Benefiting All Its Customers By Perry Burton | July 11, 2018

Americans for Tax Reform's Katie McAuliffe, the Executive Director of Digital Liberty and federal affairs manager, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Times that emphasizes the crucial nature of the 5G race and what the T-Mobile and Sprint merger means for global competition:  

"Deployment of 5G networks across America will happen; it is only a matter of when. In order to stay competitive and provide the best services, one way to get there is through the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint into the New T-Mobile."  

The FTC is Finally Complete Again By Jonathan Cannon | April 27, 2018

At long last, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is complete with a full roster of commissioners. The Senate unanimously confirmed Chairman Joseph Simons, Commissioner Rohit Chopra , Commissioner Noah Phillips, Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, and Commissioner Christine Wilson.

The situation at the FTC was dire, with Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen pending confirmation to the United States Court of Federal Claims, and Terrell McSweeny’s resignation. These confirmations will make the FTC great again. The cop is back on the beat with a fresh set of commissioners who will hit the ground running.

In light of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, the FTC has once again been tasked with protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices of both ISPs and edge providers. The order emphasized that the FTC was the best body to address the concerns of net neutrality advocates, utilizing a large body of precedent and skills to address these issues.