Washington Watch: Rights, Disclosures and Investigations

Issa-Wyden Generate Buzz on Internet Bill of Rights

Speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum, anti-SOPA allies Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) suggested that it was time for an Internet Bill of Rights and have launched a crowd-sourcing site to incorporate third parties’ views.

The proposed Bill of Rights has the following core elements:

  1. Freedom – digital citizens have a right to a free, uncensored internet
  2. Openness – digital citizens have a right to an open, unobstructed internet
  3. Equality – all digital citizens are created equal on the internet
  4. Participation – digital citizens have a right to peaceably participate where and how they choose on the internet
  5. Creativity – digital citizens have a right to create, grow and collaborate on the internet, and be held accountable for what they create
  6. Sharing – digital citizens have a right to freely share their ideas, lawful discoveries and opinions on the internet
  7. Accessibility – digital citizens have a right to access the internet equally, regardless of who they are or where they are
  8. cigital citizens have a right to benefit from what they create, and be secure in their intellectual property on the internet

Wyden was “concerned that there are people who are using a legitimate concern over cyber threats as an excuse to create a cyber industrial complex that plays on fears and has a big appetite for private data,” Wyden said. “We need to make sure that this is not used as a Trojan horse to sweep aside privacy.

FTC Revisits DotCom Disclosures for New Platforms

The Federal Trade Commission held a workshop on updating its advertising disclosures rules to fit the new mobile and social media platforms.  It is apparent that the FTC believes an update is required, but what they were struggling with was how to implement it under different platforms such as a tweet or Facebook like.  A major theme in the original guidelines and the conference is that what disclosures are required is driven by the context of the ad.  Mary Engle, the Associate Director of the FTC Division of Advertising Practices concluded the workshop by stressing that evolving media platforms must adapt to the law – not visa versa. The FTC’s report on the  conference likely will be released in November.

Justice Department Investigating Cable Providers over Bandwidth Caps

In our last issue we reported on Ars Technica’s Timothy Lee article suggesting that bandwidth caps being adopted by ISPs may be intended not only as a bandwidth management tool but also to prevent its users from “cutting the cord” – abandoning their television service in favor of content delivered by the internet.  The issue is now part of a Justice Department investigation which has sought information from cable giants Comcast, Time Warner and Hulu.

More Info: Open Internet Website;  Wyden, Issa Say Digital Bill of Rights Needed to Prevent New Versions of SOPA, Bloomberg; Justice Department probing pay-TV industry, Los Angeles Times; U.S. Probes Cable for Limits on Net Video, Wall Street Journal