End Discriminatory Wireless Taxes!

Taxes on cell phone and wireless services have skyrocketed to fund state budgets and federal subsidy programs. Today, the average consumer pays a whopping 17 percent in taxes on their wireless bill. Write your member of Congress and call for a tax time-out.

ECPA Reform Movement Grows Stronger

Support for Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) reform continued to grow on Tuesday as Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY) became the 300th member of congress to co-sponsor the Email Privacy Act, H.R. 699. Sponsored by Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D- CO), the bill is currently the most supported in the HoR that has yet to be passed. The EPCA reform would provide a safeguard against government invasion of Americans’ online communications.

“With supermajority support for the Email Privacy Act in the House, there is no good or legitimate reason for this legislation not to go directly to the floor for a vote. It does not need amendments.  It has been vetted for over six years.  Procrastinating on something so clear cut and simple is baffling. The Email Privacy Act does exactly what our forefathers intended as the Bill of Rights' 4th Amendment,” said Katie McAuliffe, Federal Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform and member of the Digital 4th coalition.

GroupM Leads in Fight Against Ad-Supported Piracy

Online piracy is a chronic problem for the creative industries by reducing revenues and chilling creation. And laws designed to stop piracy have largely proven ineffective. Additionally, piracy is big business for the operators of infringing sites. Indeed, the Digital Citizens Alliance, an Internet safety group, conducted a study concluding sites offering access to illegal content generated $209 million in advertising revenuein 2014 alone.

Taxing Your Vacation

How the government is trying to tax online travel agencies a “hotel occupancy and use tax”.

With the advent of online travel agencies, people can click and book trip to the other side of the world within an hour. From flight, rental car, hotel, even best sights to see, online travel agencies has never made it easier to plan a trip. OTA also save a lot of money for the traveler and encourages the saved money to be spent at the destinations. However government is trying to pass the savings onto themselves with new taxes on OTA.

The state and local governments are trying to use the hotel occupancy and use tax to tax the OTA. This undermines the affordability of a trip that the OTAs finds for their customers. Appling extra taxes to the OTA will not only make it more expensive for travelers but also hurts the travel destinations local economy. Unnecessary government taxes are causing this travel chaos.

Time is Almost up for Permanent Internet Tax Ban

Time is running out for a permanent ban on Internet access taxes. Action is needed with little time before the end of the Internet Tax moratorium.

 First signed into law in 1998, the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) was temporarily extended last December, ensuring that taxes on Internet access could not be implemented for another nine months, though it will likely be part of a continuing resolution .  On October 1st, its time is officially up.  In order to keep Internet access tax free, Congress will need to reauthorize the moratorium, preferably on a permanent basis.

Lawmakers Say Domain Name Transition May be Unconstitutional

A number of influential lawmakers have expressed concern of the constitutionality of the impending Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition from the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA)’s jurisdiction.  
In a bicameral letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, members of Congress raised concern over the NTIA’s Association’s authority to relinquish its oversight of the Internet domain name functions to the “global stakeholder community.” The Senators and Representatives believe that Congressional oversight is not only beneficial but legally required for the NTIA to relinquish its oversight of IANA.

Why the RTPA is Bad for Business

The Remote Transactions Parity Act (RPTA) was introduced in the House to supposedly correct dangerous flaws in the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) both of which claim to create a balance in tax collection between online retailers and brick-and-mortar businesses.

While the RTPA contains some differences from the MFA, the two bills are essentially built upon the same foundation.  Unfortunately, this attempt to create “parity” in terms of sales tax collection creates a disparity that subjects online businesses to courts and state revenue departments outside of their own state boundaries.  RPTA and MFA are taxation without representation.

With the implementation of the RTPA, online retailers will be faced with over ten thousand complicated tax codes, including 45 state sales taxes and their local tax jurisdictions.  There is an exemption for businesses that bring in less than $10 million in sales, at least for the first year.  In the second year it would drop to $5 million, and down to $1 million the next. 

Here’s the catch:  the exemption includes all sales.  If a business has $10 million in sales at its physical location and just one dollar in online sales, then that business is still held accountable to abide by the RTPA. 

Pulling the REINS on FCC Overreach

Currently, there is only a good faith agreement keeping federal agency officials in line with Congressional intent. The REINS Act would restore Congress’ oversight in agency decisions, and rein in the unrelenting extension of executive power.

The REINS Act is focused primarily on the IRS; however, it would rein in other agencies as well.

In the tech world many of us focus on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  The FTC and the NTIA have recently taken steps to work more cooperatively with Congress and setting parameters for their own purview or taking Congressional concerns seriously. 

Meanwhile, the FCC has shown little deference to Congress and has expanded its own power in the face of protests from Congressmen and Senators alike.  The FTC and NTIA are two agencies that have taken admirable steps in orchestrating a more friendly relationship with Congress, proactively avoiding heavy handed, one-size fits all, legislation.

NTIA “Slows Its Roll” in Giving Up The Internet

Washington, D.C. — After significant controversy over the United States maintaining its role of overseeing Internet root zones, it is a relief that on August 17th 2015, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced a one-year extension of the IANA contract with ICANN. This contract, which maintains NTIA’s stewardship role in the IANA functions, was set to expire on September 30th of this year.

The extension ensures that artificial deadlines do not unnecessarily expedite the IANA transition process. The NTIA has the option to extend the contract an additional three years if needed.  The multi-stakeholder community has expressed confidence that the IANA transition will be completed by July 2016, and the House passage of the DOTCOM Act, which is still waiting on Senate consideration, would give Congress time to review whatever proposal the Administration puts forward.

Be sure to stay tuned by following @DigitalLiberty on Twitter and Facebook, where we will bring you the latest updates from this monumental Internet paradigm shift.