E-Commerce coalition lists most harmful state Internet laws

NetChoice, a coalition of e-commerce sites such as AOL, Expedia, Overstock and Ebay, this morning unveiled the second installment of its "iAwful" list, which ranks what the group calls the worst Internet legislation.

The top spot on the list goes to a recently passed Maine law that requires Web sites that cater to teenagers to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from the teens - a measure NetChoice says will restrict the exchange of useful information for the age group, such as ads for test preparation services or colleges.

The number two spot on the list is a city ordinance that would require travelers who book arrangements online to pay an extra tax on hotel rooms. The ordinance is scheduled to take effect in New York City next month, and states such as Florida are considering similar proposals.

"August means recess in Washington, but state and local governments never stop looking for ways to tax the Internet," said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice. Legislation at the state level often paves the way for broader federal regulation on issues such as net neutrality, he said.

"When states being to regulate and tax the Internet, we have to try to beat them back one state a time," he said. "We pull our hair out trying to comply with 47 different state laws."

DelBianco, along with NetChoice policy counsel Braden Cox (who is also policy counsel for the Association for Competitive Technology and Competitive Enterprise Institute, all Washington lobbying groups), spend much of their time visiting state capitols to help block or repeal legislation they see as harmful to e-commerce companies.

The iAwful list debuted in June. Since then, DelBianco said NetChoice has successfully fought back against several measures ranked in that first list. The most notable victory was amending a California bill that placed technical restrictions on publishing photos to social networking sites.

The full list can be found here.

-Kim Hart