Andreas Hellmann

Email Privacy Act Reintroduced in Congress

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017, 10:44 AM PERMALINK

On Monday, January 9th, 2017 Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS)  and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) reintroduced the Email Privacy Act. This bipartisan bill will plug a loophole that allows civil and criminal investigative agencies the ability to bypass Fourth Amendment protections of our online content. 

The Email Privacy Act would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 to underline that all a warrant is required in order to search Americans’ online communications, regardless of when the email was crafted.  ECPA contains an unintended loophole that allows the government to search any email older than 180 days stored on a third-party server, such as Google Mail, Yahoo Mail or Apple’s iCloud, without a warrant.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform strongly argued in favor of the Email Privacy Act legislation. "American privacy was the big winner when the House passed the Email Privacy Act! They send the bill to the Senate after a 419 -0 vote.  If the Senate concurs the government will need a warrant to read your e-mails—just as they have always needed a warrant to read your snail mail.”

Katie McAuliffe, ATR’s Federal Affairs Manager and Executive Director of Digital Liberty said,

“Passage of the Email Privacy Act was a large bipartisan effort and a major victory in securing American’s digital privacy. Updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act is absolutely necessary in order to secure the privacy of emails and other items stored in the Cloud.” 

In the 114th Congress (2015-2016) the House voted 419-0 to pass the legislation, but the bill stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee after amendments were offered that privacy advocates said would give the civil and criminal investigative agencies even more "unwarranted" surveillance power than the status quo.

Both House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) are original cosponsors of the bill. Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Will Hurd, (R-TX), Ted Poe (R-TX), Susan DelBene (D-WA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Judy Chu (D-CA) have also joined as original cosponsors of the bill.

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/132053576@N03/

Meddling FCC Doesn’t Want You to Have Free Mobile Data

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016, 10:19 AM PERMALINK

In an op-ed from December 6th, 2016 Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty & Federal Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform, states that a meddling FCC doesn’t want you to have free mobile data.

“The FCC is more concerned with protecting its own limited worldview than with what is good for consumers.

Competition means that if a new idea rises to the surface and is better than the previous thought, minds can change, business models can adjust, and products can adapt – that is innovation.  But protecting specific competitors and a specific view of the future locks us into where we are now – that is stagnation.

If the FCC were really concerned with consumers, then they would allow the market to test ideas and business models.  Not attack plans to give consumers free data.   Free data plans are also called zero-rated plans because customers don’t have to pay out of their data bucket for the month. Therefore customers pay zero dollars and zero data, hence zero rates.”


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Large Conservative Groups to Congress: No Lame Duck Internet Sales Tax

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Tuesday, December 6th, 2016, 4:15 PM PERMALINK

 

In a letter from December 6th to all Members of Congress large conservative groups including Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action for America and FreedomWorks ask members of Congress to not address the issue of collecting internet sales taxes during this current lame duck session.  “The issue is contentious, and previous attempts to do so have raised important questions that have yet to be resolved.  Pushing through a bill in the lame duck would allow little time for debate or discussion of these complicated issues and we respectfully request that you refrain from doing so.”

 

Currently, the Supreme Court’s 1992 Quill decision establishes the framework for collecting such taxes.  Fundamentally, it requires nexus, or the seller’s physical presence within a state, before that state may collect a sales tax from the seller.  Yet, as e-commerce and internet sales have expanded, brick and mortar stores have been pressuring Congress to establish a new framework for collecting sales taxes from online out-of-state sellers.  Unfortunately, previous attempts to do so generated serious Constitutional questions about the scope and reach of state tax authorities, as well as concerns about the administrative burdens created by the new tax collection schemes.

 

Read the letter here

 

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Flickr: Misha Popovikj

ATR urges the House to oppose any new cross-border sales tax beyond Quill

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016, 4:33 PM PERMALINK

In a letter from November 15th to Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip and Bob Goodlatte Chairman, House Judiciary Committee President of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist states:

Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte has been diligent in working to develop a framework for a sustainable way to handle state taxation of cross-border sales, and taxpayers appreciate his work. When compared to the onerous burdens imposed on taxpayers and businesses alike by the misnamed “Marketplace Fairness Act” and its successor bills, positive progress has been made mitigating the ability of states to send regulations across their borders, and curtailing the ability of revenue departments to burden businesses outside their jurisdictions with audits and litigation. But this project is not yet ready to win the support of taxpayers, and is so far still short of its goals in important ways.

 

Because of substantive problems still remaining and, importantly, an improved environment for taxpayers in the next Congress, ATR strongly urges the House of Representatives to resist calls to consider any new cross-border sales tax measure that goes beyond confirming the existing Quill framework during the lame duck session.

 

Anyone concerned about protecting taxpayers or their constitutional rights should immediately rule out cutting deals with Harry Reid and President Obama on any sales tax legislation. We should instead be strictly focused solely on necessary funding of the government and preventing any "midnight" regulations from the Administration.

 

When the time is right, we still have some work to do. To be worthy of taxpayers’ consideration any remote sales tax legislation needs to allow taxation to take into account the different benefits and burdens applying to local outlets and online-only retailers. It should stop the state push for economic nexus and instead safeguard the physical nexus standard. It must preserve tax competition between the states on both rates and base. It must affect controls on state taxation authority such as BATSA. It must not implement an MFA-style regime in any retail sector.

 

There are currently no proposals before Congress that meet taxpayers’ requirements, with the exception of Congressman Sensenbrenner’s “No Regulation without Representation” bill, H.R. 5893. A vote in this Congress on anything other than H.R. 5893 would be a disservice of taxpayers, and ATR urges Congressional Leadership to resist the pressure from those businesses that would stand to benefit from doing so.

 

Taxpayers look forward to working with the Committee, the new Congress and President Trump to ensure that any future cross-border sales tax regime maintains the physical nexus standard, constitutional protections and tax and regulatory competition.

Onward,

Grover Norquist

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Flickr: Misha Popovikj

FCC Witholds Info About New TV Plan

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Posted by Andreas Hellmann on Tuesday, October 4th, 2016, 11:36 AM PERMALINK

The Obama administration has refused to be transparent in all things. The FCC is no exception.

The following can be attributed to a StandUnited petition put forth by Digital Liberty Executive Director, Katie McAuliffe:

It doesn’t take a genius to see what the FCC is doing.  It is piling up obstacles to private investment in private networks, putting us on a glidepath to a taxpayer-funded and government-owned telecommunications and Internet structure that looks like a cross between a Yugoslavian car factory and a Soviet-era milk distribution scheme. 

Concerns about what the new proposal might entail present a harrowing picture for the future of television in American. Larry Downes, of Forbes, postulated that this could be the end of the “Second Golden Age” of TV.

It is widely suspected that the plan, if it goes beyond the failed first proposal, would erode copyright protections for content providers, and would harm then integrity of contracts in the industry. This violation of contracts between content providers and device manufacturers would have a ripple effect throughout the economy, and end up harming consumers as well.

Another frightening thought is that this plan will result in the FCC itself becoming the sole TV programmer in the nation, severely limiting consumer choice.

The reasoning for all of the speculation, is that the FCC has refused to release the plan to the public for comment and honest deliberation. Now that the vote on the proposal has been delayed, the time has come to demand the FCC be transparent on its proposal and get out of our TV.

 


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