THE INTERNET TAX MORATORIUM EXPIRATION
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Dozens of State and National organizations have come together asking the Senate to pass a clean and permanent extension of the Internet Tax Moratorium. For the sake of continued growth and innovation through the internet, we request that the Senate pass S. 1432, the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act. This legislation will protect Americans from being financially barred from the opportunities and benefits offered by having reliable internet access.
The increasing desire of the Federal Communications Commission to expand its authority through Net Neutrality rules could have catastrophic consequences for both the growth of American Internet Infrastructure and the average consumer. The FCC is considering enacting Net Neutrality policies that would significantly limit Internet Service Providers, ISPs, from being able to dynamically control allotted bandwidth for high traffic websites such as Netflix and Facebook.
The FCC has been under consistent pressure to regulate broadband internet by activists with outlandish ideas that the same companies that provide internet service are also destroying the industry. While the FCC has historically supported a free-market approach of governance for ISPs, recent changes in policy led to the failed attempt to impose Net Neutrality in 2010 and continued failures thereafter. The most recent attempt by the FCC uses provisions from the 1996 Communications Act to justify Net Neutrality, even though congress never intended the wording in the bill for that purpose.
Worst of all the FCC has been entertaining the, “Nuclear option,” of classifying ISPs as a Title II Utility, treating the Internet as a government-owned utility monopoly. If this policy were to be enacted, Internet development would come to a halt, and the effects on consumer internet services would be disastrous.
With this in mind, “We therefore respectfully call on Congress to assert its authority concerning the FCC’s role, and ask the FCC to await further action from Congress.”
Unfortunately, during the FCC's Thursday May 15th meeting, the decision to move forward with Net Neutrality rules passed along party lines by a 3-2 vote. This will create unneeded uncertainty in the market, restrict investment and innovation, and ultimately harm consumers.
Read more: http://www.atr.org/fcc-continues-attack-isp-freemarket#ixzz31p8anGas
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This week Giuseppe Macri from the Daily Caller reported that back in 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) hired on Tarek Kamel as senior advisor the CEO. He is touted as an expert on global Internet governance but there is just one problem; his questionable past. Kamel was the Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology until February 2011. He is probably best known for being held accountable, along with other top Egyptian officials, for shutting down the Internet during the Arab Spring Revolution of 2011.
In an open letter to Kamel during the Internet shutdown, former White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin said:
“Unless you act now, in your final hours as Minister, to reverse the Internet cutoff, your name will forever be associated with an unprecedented human rights violation on a national scale, and an economic catastrophe triggered by a shortsighted regime's drive for self-preservation.”
In response to Kamel and the Egyptian Government shutting down the Internet, President Obama said that the Egyptian people had “the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech and the ability to determine their own destiny”. These are all rights that we hold true in the US and remain available on the Internet today. As a senior advisor to Fadi Chehadé President and CEO of ICANN, Kamel could greatly alter the landscape of Internet freedom should the US relinquish ICANN oversight.
On Wednesday April 3 the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing about the much discussed recent Commerce Department announcement. By relinquishing power over the Internet, the U.S. will be allowing a significant asset to potentially fall into the hands of a bad actor that could ruin freedom on the Internet as it is known today. Democrats believe that this is a step towards a truly free Internet but this belief was met with much criticism from Republicans, and for good reason. Republicans contend that our current system actually promotes a free Internet and this decision allows for the potential of a new country to take the place of the U.S. and start censoring the Internet.
Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN, testified in Washington in front of the subcommittee in an attempt to quell fears and answer questions regarding possible abuse of the organization's capabilities beyond assigning names and numbers. Chehadé said in regards to the announcement from the Commerce Department that "At the heart of this proposal is the commitment to security, stability, and resiliency.” While this comment may sound good in theory, the problem remains that once the United States removes its authority there will be a great potential for catastrophe.
Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) warned that removing our powers will remove an important “backstop” that our country plays in such an event like an authoritarian regime attempting to interfere with free Internet. This problem has to be dealt with in a proactive plan rather than reactive. Once enacted, this cannot be reversed. As Rep. Walden said at the hearing “there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.”
One of the arguments in favor of the Department of Commerce relinquishing oversight is that, in essence, ICANN is merely the white pages of the Internet. In its current form, ICANN is merely the white pages, but without the Department of Commerce's commitment to maintaining that role there is nothing preventing a future ICANN from expanding its areas of influence and control.
The ability to assign and create names and numbers is in itself a power to wield. Without proper oversight, domain names such as ".sucks" could be used to extort companies and besmirch individuals. Currently companies are able to turn to Congress and the Administration to hold hearings that encourage and increase ICANN's accountability and transparency. Furthermore, as a non-profit with headquarters in the United States it is subject to the American judicial system and legal proceedings. At the termination of its contract there is no telling where ICANN would choose to incorporate, but one cannot imagine that it would be beneficial for the world's Internet population as a whole if ICANN incorporated in North Korea.
Of course North Korea is an unlikely headquarters location, but it is one of the most vivid examples of government censorship and control that is incredibly damaging to its citizens. With the "Internet of things" quickly entering our day-to-day lives, censorship and control does not only mean the words you speak or send, but the energy you use, the food you eat, and the times you sleep.
It is widely known that countries like Russia, China, and Turkey are proponents of Internet censorship. If the U.S. goes through with this proposal scheduled for October 2015, a scenario where a country or consortium of countries attempts to changed stifle or control the free flow of information internationally is not out of the realm of possibility.
While Chehadé says he is committed to stability and resiliency, it is quite the opposite message to have Kamel as a senior advisor, or in any position at ICANN for that matter, considering his involvement with shutting down the Internet in Egypt during the revolution in 2011.
The health of the American patent system is vitally important to American competitiveness in both national and international arenas, especially in an economy that is increasingly supported by knowledge-based products. Americans for Tax Reform supports the patent reform efforts undertaken being undertaken in the Senate. As such, ATR has joined in a coalition letter to show our support for our elected officials understand the importance of creativity to the future of our Nation.
Americans for Tax Reform supports the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Verizon v. FCC, which vacated the FCC "Net Neutrality" rules. The following can be attributed to Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty and Federal Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform:
"Federal agencies are consistently trying to overstep their boundaries and create rules and regulations without any mandate from Congress. The FCC has attempted, again, to regulate in a way that it has no authority to do so.
While the Court noted that the FCC does have authority to encourage the deployment of broadband infrastructure, the Court ruled against the FCC's order to impose anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules because those regulations are authorized under Title II "common carrier" regulations, which regulates basic carriers like landline phone service, on information service providers and therefore outside the authority of broadband's classification of an "information service".
We know common carrier regulations are more restrictive,hinder growth and innovation. Title II regulations are the reason Google Fiber has refused to offer any kind of voice service as part of its Gigabit and Video packages- because they do not want to open up their innovative services to that kind of restrictive regulation. Investment flows to the areas with the least hurdles and restrictions and we can see by the explosive growth in the Internet ecosystem that it is not broken.
The Internet is already open and competitive and will remain so. We can all see that it is one of the greatest growing sectors of our economy. Internet service providers benefit from users wanting to use their networks. The more applications, video services, and other options available to consumers, the more consumers will use those networks and find ways to innovate.
These companies do not have an incentive to degrade or block popular content on networks. Additionally, not all content uses the same amount of data to transmit - Facebook and Email interactions require far less data to connect quickly and efficiently than Netflix or FaceTime. Providing additional data transmission availability to high consumption apps does not mean that email or other low data consumption uses will be degraded. In other words, a fast lane does not necessarily mean a slow lane.
What it means is that companies need to manage their networks so that consumers get the best user experience."
Today the eMainstreet Alliance sent a letter to the House of Representatives emphasizing that, while major retailers are still pushing to passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act, the costs to comply with the MFA are overly burdensome, and the MFA, as written, does not comply with ANY of Chairman Goodlatte's seven principles of remote sales tax collection.
The MFA crushes small businesses with tens of thousands of dollars in compliance costs by turning them into tax collectors for 9,600 different tax jurisdictions. An independent, non-commissioned study by TruST found that integration costs for small to mid-sized businesses will range from $57,500 to $290,000. Faced with such a heavy burden, some small businesses have said they will be forced to close their doors. The findings of the TruST study are consistent with eMainstreet business estimates of the costs their businesses will incur should the MFA go into effect.
Additionally, MFA does not meet any of the remote sales tax principles set out by Chairman Goodlatte:
“Chairman Goodlatte spelled out seven reasonable and common sense principles to guide any discussion of remote use tax collection legislation. The MFA fails all seven principles. One principle insists that any solution be “tech neutral”. This is an important safeguard for small businesses. Businesses should not be required to implement any third-party software to collect and/or remit sales taxes. We understand that proponents of the MFA are pressuring lawmakers to ignore both the clear meaning of Chairman Goodlatte’s principles as well as the heavy burdens the MFA imposes on businesses. Please do not be deceived by special interests - the MFA is unwise and destructive legislation.”
To read the full letter, click here.
Digital Liberty and Americans for Tax Reform welcome the introduction of House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte's (R-Va.) Innovation Act. The bill, introduced today, addresses the rising number of abusive patent lawsuits that have stifled inovation and cost the American economy $80 billion per year.
The Innovation Act raises standards for initial pleadings from patent holders, who would need to explain what patent is being infringed upon and how that infringement is occurring. Another very important aspect of this legislation is fee shifting, which requires the loser to pay the victor's legal fees.
The following statement can be attributed to Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty & Federal Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform:
"We would like to commend Chairman Goodlatte for his excellent work in moving patent reform one step closer to completion. His legislation released today includes aspects vital to curbing the economically detrimental practices of patent trolls. Overall his legislation strikes an appropriate balance that will dramatically curb the troll problem, while still maintaing the value of American intellectual property.
"In a knowledge-based economy it is important to protect Americans' Intellectual Property. Patents are an important tool for encouraging and stimulating innovation, while also ensuring that inventors are compensated for their work. Unfortunately, the system has been abused by non-practicing entities, entities who own patents but do not create anything with the patent. While litigation is a legitimate course to protect patent ownership rights, the abusive nature that has permeated recent patent cases has necessitated balanced action from Congress."
The Michigan House of Representatives is considering two bills 4202 and 4203 to expand Michigan’s taxation authority into other states. These bills are unlikely to withstand constitutional scrutiny, without the passage of the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA). However, the MFA is vastly unpopular with voters nationwide.
Due to the harm House Bills 4202 and 4203 would cause Michiganders and the likely unconstitutionality of the proposed legislation, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to members of the Michigan House of Representatives urging them to oppose to House Bills 4202 and 4203.
“The bills would have terrible consequences for the Michigan economy. It forces out-of-state businesses that bring even a small ownership stake into the state to collect taxes. This will provide a powerful incentive for businesses to stay entirely out of state, which means less investment in Michigan,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Anything that discourages investment is bad policy for a state that’s had a sluggish economic recovery, still struggling five years after the 2008 crisis.”
The online sales tax bills awaiting a vote in the Michigan House are not just bad policy; they’re probably unconstitutional. In Quill v. North Dakota the Supreme Court ruled that states could not make businesses without a physical presence in their state collect taxes. Interstate tax collection is a responsibility of Congress, not the states.
As stated in ATR’s letter to Michigan legislators, “Poor enforcement of ‘use tax’ law is no justification for constitutionally dubious legislation, especially if its only guarantee is to negatively impact Michiganders.”
Consider if nearby Illinois attempted similar legislation affecting Michigan state businesses. Illinois would try to force Michigan businesses to collect and remit Illinois sales tax, thereby making Michigan businesses subject to the tax laws, court proceedings, audits and liens of Illinois. Michiganders would have no recourse at the ballot box, and there would be nothing that their home state could do to protect them. This cuts at the principles of federalism, competition between the states, and due process.
New polling data released by the R Street Institute and the National Taxpayers Union shows that voters are strongly against Internet sales taxes. The Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) is a losing bet among likely voters; 62 percent of likely primary voters and 57 percent of likely national voters are opposed to the idea.
New polling data released by the R Street Institute and the National Taxpayers Union show that voters are strongly against Internet sales taxes. The Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) is a losing bet among likely voters; 62 percent of likely primary voters and 57 percent of likely national voters are opposed to the idea. In fact, opposition rose to a solid 70 percent when survey respondents learned how tax collection would actually take place.
The poll asked respondents:
More specifically, the proposed legislation would allow tax enforcement agents from one state to collect taxes from online retailers based in a different state. For instance, if a customer in New York makes an Internet purchase from an Oregon retailer where there is no sales tax, authorities in New York can force that retailer to collect New York sales tax and send it to New York. Knowing this, do you favor or oppose federal legislation that changes how states collect sales taxes from Internet purchases?
Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty have been providing strong arguments as to why the MFA is terrible for Americans - it is more than raising taxes, it is expanding state tax and regulatory authority. In May, Americans for Tax Reform sent the senators sponsoring the MFA a letter composed of 16 questions pointing to serious oversights in the legislation, none of which were adequately addressed.
eMainStreet has emphasized the serious business implications not just for small e-retailers or "brick and clicks," but also for manufactures wholesalers and distributors, and have explained numerous times why software is not a panacea. Additionally, the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants is publicly opposed to the MFA. Now, NTU and R Street are providing congressmen and senators with clear cut evidence that the MFA is not legislation that voters support. We urge elected officials to oppose any incarnation of the Marketplace Fairness Act.
JPT, Should children share food at school? (Poll: 63% Yes, 37% No.) More specifically, should teachers walk into classrooms where they do not teach and take food from a kid and bring it back to their own classroom to eat themselves? (Poll: 7% Yes, 93% No) ...Pretext/Context matters.
Statement from Americans for Tax Reform’s Katie McAuliffe regarding the opening arguments on Net Neutrality:
The thrust of the case will come down to whether the FCC has statutory authority to regulate broadband providers. Broadband has been defined by the FCC as an information service, not a common carrier (in layman’s terms, telephone service). As such, the FCC has no authority to regulate broadband. Today the court rightly appeared skeptical of the FCC’s claims of regulatory authority over broadband via section 706 and market power that would adversely harm competition and consumers.
Statements from the hearing revealed that some judges did not believe that the FCC counsel had sufficiently proven that section 706 provided the FCC with the authority to regulate broadband. Section 706 is deregulatory and mandates a report on broadband deployment and gives the FCC the ability to remove regulatory barriers to market entry. This section was not intended to expand the FCC’s jurisdiction beyond common carriers.
Furthermore, the FCC’s argument that Verizon has a level of market power that could adversely affect competition lacked sufficient evidence. The FCC did not perform a peer-reviewed study of the broadband market to corroborate these claims.
While the outcome certainly cannot be predicted, it appears that the court won’t be easily convinced that the FCC’s attempt to expand its own authority is legally sound.
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