Technology

Don’t tax Internet access

One of the basic principles of an innovation-based tax policy is that government should “tax bads, not goods.” This is the idea behind proposals such as using carbon taxes to pay for an expanded research and development tax credit. So why would the government want to tax Internet access when, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, the Internet accounts for 3.8 percent of U.S. GDP?

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Avoiding the mobile data traffic jam

Every weeknight around 9 p.m. local time, in each of the largest cities across the nation, there is a traffic jam.  Not on our freeways and highways, but on cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Parents are researching last minute summer vacations.  Teens are video chatting with friends from school.  People of all ages are streaming content for evening entertainment.  And, increasingly, they’re doing this on smart phones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices.

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Don’t let the third-party cookie crumble

Some web browsers are rolling out Internet privacy campaigns that claim to be introducing greater privacy protection under the guise that they are responding to consumer demand. Most notably, Mozilla announced that it will proceed with plans to block the use of third-party cookies on the next version of its Firefox browser. Such action would essentially prevent interest-based advertising. Interest-based advertising simply means ads served based on consumer preferences demonstrated through Internet activity.

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We are all in this together

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has spoken – online original programming and traditional television programming are on a level playing field.

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Address the patent trolls, but don't ignore the patent evaders

There’s been a tremendous amount of discussion about the allegedly negative effects of “patent trolls.” While this may or may not be a real issue it has attracted considerable attention, resulting in a significant amount of anti-patent rhetoric from some in Washington, including the highest levels of government. Unfortunately, this torrent of patent system bashing has done little in terms of proposing fair and balanced means of addressing the perceived problems while protecting true innovation. Worse, the one-sided patent dialogue has served to embolden companies, many of them foreign-based, that knowingly appropriate American innovation yet refuse to license technologies and patents under any circumstance.

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The national broadband goal: A technology upgrade that leaves no one behind

America’s Internet infrastructure is undergoing an historic upgrade to faster and more efficient technologies for delivering all those bits and bytes we so voraciously consume.   For most Americans, the upgrades are old news.  They have embraced broadband connectivity and are experiencing all of the worthwhile benefits that that brings.   But those coming late to the Internet or who are still dependent on their traditional landline for keeping in touch, the move to an all IP infrastructure to support their phone or broadband connection may loom as an unsettling eventuality.   For these consumers (perhaps just a quarter of the population), service providers and policymakers must find a way to minimize their fears and address their concerns.

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Five things Congress could do for music creators that wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is holding hearings on an overhaul of the Copyright Act.  Goodlatte is getting a lot of advice requiring considerable bureaucratic resources.  It would be a missed opportunity to focus on the complex and not see the relatively simple reforms to better the lot of creators.  Here’s  a few ideas that not only could be quickly implemented but also could make a big difference in the lives of music artists and songwriters.

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The ACLU's witch hunt against license plate recognition

Back in the 1700’s, places like Salem, Massachusetts got pretty worked-up about witches. Fear and misinformation drove officials to undertake horrible acts. But even Salem’s wacky witch hunters didn’t think it made sense to outlaw the use of brooms, since they couldn’t tell the difference between the household variety and the witches' getaway vehicles.

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Put sound policy before technology

There is a battle going on in Washington, D.C., that could have a dramatic impact on the future of the market for all forms of communications services.  At issue is ensuring that the fundamental principles intended to benefit consumers are sustained as networks once again undergo a technology transition – this time to the use of Internet protocol (IP) transmission technology.  Regardless of the technology, any transition should embrace these core policy objectives for consumers, including access to innovative services, greater choice among providers, and lower prices.  However, if these policy objectives are not sustained in an IP-enabled world, the nation’s consumers and businesses are likely to pay more for services and get less in return.

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