Quote"If any of these new tax collection schemes were adopted, Amazon would be compelled to end its advertising relationships with well over 10,000 California-based participants in the Amazon 'Associates Program,'" Misener wrote in the letter, dated February 24.
The letter is the latest move for Amazon in its battle with states over sales tax collection. Cash-strapped states claim online retailers that don't collect taxes are depriving states of revenue and enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over local retailers that must collect taxes. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that retailers can't be forced to collect sales tax on out-of-state shipments unless they have offices in those states.
Amazon has no physical presence in California, but some states have enacted laws that require retailers to collect sales tax if they have affiliates based in that state. Affiliates place ads for retailers on their Web sites and get paid when customers make purchases via the ads.
QuoteMeanwhile, in Europe, Vodafone's Colao said that he feels comfortable with how European regulators have handled the issue.
"The way that regulators have dealt with the Net neutrality issue in Europe is healthy," he said. "It recognizes the competitive environment. And I think it's something that U.S. regulators can learn from."
But he said that issues dealing with inter-carrier compensation, or the way operators compensate one other for accessing networks, need to be revisited. Specifically, the government tariffs that are charged to access networks between countries are too high, which leads to higher prices for wireless consumers.
QuoteThe revised version includes new language saying that the federal government's designation of vital Internet or other computer systems "shall not be subject to judicial review." Another addition expanded the definition of critical infrastructure to include "provider of information technology," and a third authorized the submission of "classified" reports on security vulnerabilities. ...
Lieberman, who recently announced he would not seek re-election in 2012, said last year that enactment of his bill needed to be a top congressional priority. "For all of its 'user-friendly' allure, the Internet can also be a dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets," he said.
Civil libertarians and some industry representatives have repeatedly raised concerns about the various proposals to give the executive branch such broad emergency power. On the other hand, as Lieberman and Collins have highlighted before, some companies, including Microsoft, Verizon, and EMC Corporation, have said positive things about the initial version of the bill.
But last month's rewrite that bans courts from reviewing executive branch decrees has given companies new reason to worry. "Judicial review is our main concern," said Steve DelBianco, director of the NetChoice coalition, which includes eBay, Oracle, Verisign, and Yahoo as members. "A designation of critical information infrastructure brings with it huge obligations for upgrades and compliance."
In some cases, DelBianco said, a company may have a "good-faith disagreement" with the government's ruling and would want to seek court review. "The country we're seeking to protect is a country that respects the right of any individual to have their day in court," he said. "Yet this bill would deny that day in court to the owner of infrastructure."
QuoteA person familiar with the legislative planning said the biometric data would likely be either fingerprints or a scan of the veins in the top of the hand. It would be required of all workers, including teenagers, but would be phased in, with current workers needing to obtain the card only when they next changed jobs, the person said.
The card requirement also would be phased in among employers, beginning with industries that typically rely on illegal-immigrant labor.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't have a position on the proposal, but it is concerned that employers would find it expensive and complicated to properly check the biometrics.
Mr. Schumer said employers would be able to buy a scanner to check the IDs for as much as $800. Small employers, he said, could take their applicants to a government office to like the Department of Motor Vehicles and have their hands scanned there.
QuoteIn the physical world, I associate the dynamics of a natural ecosystem with two important concepts: first, the presence of some set of biological laws such as natural selection, that second, leads to a balance or equilibrium state so that even when there is a disturbance these natural operations and laws bring the ecosystem back to a equilibrium state (maybe different than before, but an equilibrium).
Applying this concept to the online ecosystem could lead us to accept the idea that the Internet is self-regulating and there is some natural order that will always emerge no matter how the system may be disturbed. From this concept some argue that policymakers should just leave the Internet alone.
In fact, "leaving the Internet alone" has been the nation’s Internet policy since the Internet was first commercialized in the mid-1990s. The primary government imperative then was just to get out of the way to encourage its growth. And the policy set forth in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was: "to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation."
This was the right policy for the United States in the early stages of the Internet, and the right message to send to the rest of the world. But that was then and this is now.
- If users do not trust that their credit card numbers and private information are safe on the Internet, they won’t use it.
- If content providers do not trust that their content will be protected, they will threaten to stop putting it online.
- If large enterprises don’t have confidence that their network will not be breached over the Internet, they will disconnect their network and limit access to business partners and customers.
- If foreign governments do not trust the Internet governance systems, they will threaten to balkanize the Domain Name System which will jeopardize the worldwide reach of the Internet.
- Child protection and Freedom of Expression: As more children go online, how do we ensure proper targeting of law enforcement resources against serious crime while remembering that most important line of defense against harmful content is the well- informed and engaged parent or teacher? Later this year, the Online Safety Technology Working Group, created by Congress and convened by NTIA, will issue a report on the state of the art in child protection strategies online.
- Cybersecurity: How do we meet the security challenge posed by the global Internet which will require increased law enforcement and private sector technology innovation yet respect citizen privacy and protect civil liberties. We’re participating in a Commerce Department cybersecurity initiative that will address these issues, particularly as they relate to improving the preparedness of industry for cyber attacks.
- Copyright protection: How do we protect against illegal piracy of copyrighted works and intellectual property on the Internet while preserving the rights of users to access lawful content? NTIA and our sister agency at the Department of Commerce, the US Patent and Trademark Office, are beginning a comprehensive consultation process that will help the Administration develop a forward-looking set of policies to address online copyright infringement in a balanced, Internet-savvy manner.
- Internet Governance: In our role administering the Federal government’s relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), how do we ensure that ICANN serves the public interest and conducts its activities with the openness and transparency that the global Internet community demands? Last fall, NTIA and ICANN set forth a framework for technical coordination of the naming and numbering system and I am looking forward to soon participating in the first of the administrative reviews to ensure that these commitments are carried out in full.
QuoteThere you go, folks. Reductio ad absurdum: a company is a machine, or at least analogous to one, kinda sorta like one. Therefore any process or method they come up with to do business would be patentable, presumably, in that universe. Well. Could someone please patent what Wall Street just did to the economy, and then refuse to license the "invention", so as to prevent those dudes from ever doing it again? Or just patent flaming greed, will you, somebody? Do the rest of us a favor and get it off the table or at least constrained.
The court rejected that claim about a company being analogous to a machine, but Justice Pauline Newman, while agreeing with the majority, nevertheless argued that it's good for the economy to have business methods patents, so we shouldn't go too far in limiting them. *Too far*?!
QuoteChris Paget, director of research and development at Seattle-based IOActive, used a US$250 Motorola RFID reader and an antenna mounted in a car’s side window and drove for 20 minutes around San Francisco, with a colleague videoing the demonstration. During the demonstration he picked up the details of two US passport cards, which are fitted with RFID chips and can be used instead of traditional passports for travel to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. “I personally believe that RFID is very unsuitable for tagging people,” he said. “I don’t believe we should have any kind of identity document with RFID tags in them. My ultimate goal here would be, my dream for this research, would be to see the entire Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative be scrapped.”
QuoteThe Bush administration has taken a dim view of Internet regulations in the form of Net neutrality rules, warning last year that they could "inefficiently skew investment, delay innovation, and diminish consumer welfare, and there is reason to believe that the kinds of broad marketplace restrictions proposed in the name of 'neutrality' would do just that, with respect to the Internet." A report from the Federal Trade Commission reached the same conclusion in 2007. In addition, a recent study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the absence of Net neutrality laws or similar federally mandated regulations has spurred telecommunications companies to invest heavily in infrastructure, and changing the rules "would have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy, investment, and innovation." Now, perhaps extensive Net neutrality regulations are wise. But enough people seem to have honest, deep-seated reservations about them to justify a sincere discussion of costs and benefits--rather than having the requirements stealthily injected into what supposed to be an emergency save-the-economy bill scheduled for a floor vote within a week or so.
QuoteNonetheless, last summer Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), a law that gives the U.S. attorney general the power to immunize telecom companies from lawsuits that accuse them of conducting unlawful spying at the bequest of the U.S. government.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Carl Nichols told Walker that the proper decision was to toss out the lawsuits and not second guess the Bush administration.
Nonsense, said Cindy Cohn, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for the rights of Internet users. EFF has brought a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on behalf of customers and accuses AT&T of turning over communication records to the National Security Agency. On Tuesday, Cohn and the EFF asked Walker to throw out the federal statute and to tell Congress to start over.
QuoteThese findings are consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. We estimate a cost of increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $9 million per year. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions that range from $1.7 to $5.5 million per year. Finally, we argue that the effect is likely to be even stronger in other regions of the United States.
QuoteDNSSEC prevents hackers from hijacking Web traffic and redirecting it to bogus sites. The Internet standard prevents spoofing attacks by allowing Web sites to verify their domain names and corresponding IP addresses using digital signatures and public-key encryption. With DNSSEC deployed, federal Web sites "are less prone to be hacked into, and it means they can offer their services with greater assurances to the public," says Leslie Daigle, Chief Internet Technology Officer for the Internet Society. "DNSSEC means more confidence in government online services."
QuoteRussian troops in the South Ossetian capital said their artillery had begun firing at Georgian forces, Russian news agencies reported.
Russia's president earlier promised to defend his citizens in South Ossetia.
Moscow's defence ministry said more than 10 of its peacekeeping troops in South Ossetia had been killed and 30 wounded in the Georgian offensive. At least 15 civilians are also reported dead.
Amid international calls for restraint, Georgia's president said 150 Russian tanks and other vehicles had entered South Ossetia.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili says he is willing to agree an immediate ceasefire
He told CNN: "Russia is fighting a war with us in our own territory."
Quote"I regret that it now appears BOCOG has announced that there will be limitations on Web site access during games time," IOC press chief Kevan Gosper told Reuters, referring to Beijing's Olympic organizers. "I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered games related."
The revelation came a day after journalists learned that organizers had backtracked on earlier guarantees that journalists would have access to an uncensored Internet at the Main Press Center and athletic venues. The announcement meant that thousands of reporters working in Beijing during the next several weeks won't have access to a multitude of sites deemed embarrassing to the Chinese government, such as Amnesty International or any sites related to the crackdown in Tibet or the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.
QuoteLawmakers are seeking to address cyberbullying with new legislation because there's currently no specific law on the books that deals with it. A fairly new federal cyberstalking law might address such acts, according to Aftab, but no one has been prosecuted under it yet. The proposed federal law would make it illegal to use electronic means to "coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress."
When signed, the Missouri state law will update existing regulations on harassment and stalking to include instances of those acts over the Internet, text message, or other electronic device. It will make cyberbullying punishable by up to four years in jail.
Quote"The New Jersey Supreme Court is the first in the nation to recognize a reasonable expectation of privacy when using the internet anonymously," said Trenton-based attorney Grayson Barber, who represented six privacy rights organizations as a friend of the court. "'I think this reflects the reality that most people do expect a measure of privacy when they are using the internet anonymously."
The unanimous seven-member court held that police do have the right to seek a user's private information when investigating a crime involving a computer, but must follow legal procedures. The court said authorities do not have to warn a suspect that they have a grand jury subpoena to obtain the information.
QuoteCounterterrorism officials in FBI headquarters slowed an investigation into a possible conspirator in the 2005 London bombings by forcing a field agent to return documents acquired from a U.S. university. Why? Because the agent received the documents through a lawful subpoena, while headquarters wanted him to demand the records under the USA Patriot Act, using a power the FBI did not have, but desperately wanted.
When a North Carolina State University lawyer correctly rejected the second records demand, the FBI obtained another subpoena. Two weeks later, the delay was cited by FBI director Robert Mueller in congressional testimony as proof that the USA Patriot Act needed to be expanded.
The strange episode is recounted in newly declassified documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents shed new light on how senior FBI officials' determination to gain independence from judicial oversight slowed its own investigation, and led the bureau's director to offer inaccurate testimony to Congress. The revelations are likely to play a key role in Capitol Hill hearings Tuesday and Wednesday on the FBI's use of so-called national security letters, or NSLs
QuoteThe charter and legal framework for an office within the Homeland Security Department that would use overhead and mapping imagery from existing satellites is in the final stage of completion, according to a department official who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about it. The future of this program is likely to come up Wednesday when Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff goes to Capitol Hill to talk about his department's spending plan. Last fall, senior Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee asked the department to put the program on hold until there was a clear legal framework of how the program would operate. This request came during an ongoing debate over the rules governing eavesdropping on phone calls and e-mails of suspected terrorists inside the United States.
QuoteHis comment came five days after the agency released final rules implementing the REAL ID Act of 2005 that made no mention of such requirements. It mandates the establishment uniform standards and procedures that must be met before state-issued licenses can be accepted as identification for official purposes.
Beyond boarding airplanes and entering federal buildings or nuclear facilities, there are no other official purposes spelled out in the regulations. And that's just what concerns people at the Center for Democracy and Technology. They say Baker's statement underscores "mission creep," in which the scope and purpose of the REAL ID Act gradually expands over time.
QuoteThe bill also would hang an unspoken threat over the heads of university administrators. In response to concerns that potential penalties for universities could include a loss of federal student aid funding, the MPAA's top lawyer in Washington said that federal funds should be at risk when copyright infringement happens on campus networks. Moreover, earlier versions of "Campus-based Digital Theft Prevention" proposals nakedly sought to make schools that received numerous copyright infringement notices subject to review by the US Secretary of Education.
QuoteWhile the cases of Internet regulation and mobile phone filtering primarily revolve on concerns over content, the third government policy proposal advanced this month in the domain of online communication targets the area of content transfer. On December 18th, the Private Music and Video Recording Subcommittee of Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs, an advisory body under the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (Monbukagakusho), held a meeting to re-examine Article 30 of Japan's Copyright Law. With respect to online file transfer, the existing law currently bans uploading of copyrighted material onto public websites, while permitting copies for personal use only [12,13,14].