Congress Watch: Net Coming of Age, Mobile Privacy and Quill

SOPA Defeat a “Political Coming of Age for Tech Industry”

As you may know, this firm has long advocated greater involvement of the tech community in public policy debates and it cannot disagree with the New York Times assessment that the grassroots campaign and internet blackout day clearly were a “political coming of age for the tech industry.”  How this dramatic reversal came about is discussed more fully in last week’s Cyber Law and Business Report which featured one of the firms behind the grass roots campaign.  With the Stop Online Piracy Act dead, focus has turned to a compromise bill – the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act offered by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) under which content providers can go after foreign websites that primarily and willfully infringe IP rights through the International Trade Commission (which currently has the authority to block infringing imports on an expedited basis consistent with due process).

The content providers, however, are not biting, as the Recording Industry Association has come out against the OPEN bill and Hollywood is not taking SOPA’s defeat sitting down as was evident when Motion Picture Association of America President Chris Dodd – a former Democratic Senator and one time national chairman of the party – threatened President Obama with retaliation.  This issue will be fought until even after the election.

Mobile Privacy Bill Floated in Response to Carrier-IQ

After the disclosures last year that smart phones were tracking users activities without their knowledge or consent, House Privacy Caucus co-chair Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) is floating a draft bill that would require disclosure and consent prior to any such tracking.  Industry groups want the bill to distinguish between diagnostic tracking and tracking for marketing purposes.

Amazon’s Marketplace Fairness Tax Bill Not Gaining GOP Support

Amazon is having limited success on Capitol Hill in seeking to stall further states from enacting the so-called Amazon tax by instead getting Congress to pass legislation to clarify states authority to collect online sales tax in light of the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill v. North Dakota which limits sales tax collection to entities having a physical presence in a state. The bill, which was introduced by Senator Enzi (R-WY) is also sponsored by Senators Alexander (R-TN), Boozman (R-AR), Blunt (R-MO) and Corker (R-TN) along with seven Democratic senators.  Sponsors are hoping for greater Republican support to prevent a filibuster should it ever come to a vote.

 Revenge of the Nerds: How Online Activism is Changing the Way DC’s Biggest Policy Battles are Fought and Won, Engage Blog; The SOPA War: A Frantic Call, an Aborted Summit, and Dramatic New Details on How Hollywood Lost,  A Political Coming of Age for the Tech Industry, Hollywood Reporter (Feb 3, 2012); New York Times (Jan. 18, 2012); 
SOPA Defeat Is Not the End Of Hollywood’s Ramped-Up Fight Against Piracy (Analysis), Hollywood Reporter (Jan. 20, 2012); Summary of the OPEN Act; CLBR (Segment 2)
Net Sales Tax Supporters Hope For More GOP Support, National Journal (Feb. 1, 2012); Markey Floats Mobile Privacy Bill, Online Media Daily (Jan. 31, 2012)