29 May 2015

4 Reasons to Reject Reauthorization of Section 215, Patriot Act

Take action: Not one more day of NSA mass spying on our phone records | EFF Action Center

4 Reasons to Reject Reauthorization of Section 215, Patriot Act:

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28 May 2015

Obama Administration Tells Supreme Court to Kill Innovation

“The [trial] court’s decision upholds the principle that open and interoperable computer languages form an essential basis for software development. It’s a good day for collaboration and innovation,” said a Google spokesman, May 31, 2012

Fast forward to May 26, 2015:
Justice tells Supreme Court not to hear Google's API appeal - Fortune: "A Google spokesperson issued the following statement: “We appreciate the Solicitor General’s careful review of this issue, however we’re disappointed with these conclusions. We still look forward to defending the concepts of interoperability that have traditionally contributed to innovation in the software industry.”"
This is the Obama administration's "advice" to the US Supreme Court on APIs and Copyright:
Obama Administration Tells Supreme Court to Kill Innovation--Copyright, APIs, Google, Oracle, Java

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26 May 2015

Consumer Review Freedom Act, Making Non-disparagement Clauses in Consumer Contracts Unenforceable

The "YELP Bill" makes it illegal for businesses to penalize customers for writing negative online reviews--

Four members of the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced legislation that would render non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts unenforceable. The bill, the Consumer Review Freedom Act, comes after geek toy company KlearGear.com tried to charge a Utah couple a US$3,500 fee for a negative review they wrote. 

U.S. Representatives Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Blake Farenthold (R-TX) introduced on April 29, 2015, the Consumer Review Freedom Act to make it illegal for businesses to penalize customers who write negative reviews on Yelp or other online review sites. The bill was motivated by several examples of companies attempting to dissuade people from writing honest reviews by slipping non-disparagement clauses in their consumer contracts. Swalwell introduced a similar bill in 2014.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to worry about being punished for posting an honest review,” said Swalwell. “This is commonsense bipartisan legislation to ensure the rights of consumers are protected and businesses are prevented from silencing fair criticism. I thank Congressmen Issa, Sherman, and Farenthold for joining me to re-introduce this bill and safeguard free speech.”

“The Internet is a critical economic engine, increasingly used for all types of commerce and communication, including for consumer reviews. Some organizations have sought to stifle customers’ abilities to express their opinions online by threatening punitive action if a customer leaves a negative review,” said Issa. “The mere threat of monetary penalties or fines for writing honest reviews would chill the free exchange of opinions we expect to find on the Internet. The Consumer Review Freedom Act would put a stop to these outrageous attempts to silence free speech online.”

“As a country that prides itself on free speech as a tenet of our constitution, I felt this sneaky tactic of limiting it was purely wrong,” said Sherman. “We think this represents a very effective piece of legislation that will allow consumers the freedom to continue doing what they thought they could all along – offer up opinions on products and services consumed to enable the marketplace to make more informed decisions.”

“The modern information economy is driven by an open and robust public dialogue. Unfortunately, some bad actors are trying to undermine free speech by threatening to sue folks who voice their honest opinions in reviews,” said Farenthold. “We cannot allow this attack on our First Amendment rights to continue for the sake of both our liberty and the continued expansion of information-driven businesses on the Internet. I applaud Congressman Issa and Congressman Swalwell for standing up for free speech and am pleased to join them as an original cosponsor of the Consumer Review Freedom Act.”

This legislation would declare such non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts unenforceable, in addition to providing authority to the Department of Justice and state attorneys general to take action against businesses that include them. California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill making non-disparagement clauses illegal in the state last year.

Jen and John Palmer, a couple from Utah, were fined $3,500 by KlearGear for violation of a non-disparagement clause after they posted a negative review online about their experience with the company. When they refused to pay the company in turn reported their debt to the credit bureaus, which damaged their credit rating.

The bill is supported by Public Participation Project, Yelp, TripAdvisor, National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), Consumer Federation of America, Angie’s List, and Public Citizen. Original cosponsors also include Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).

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25 May 2015

ICT, Information and Communications Technology, Digital Economy, Internet Governance

"... the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and digital economy sectors are critical and EB (Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs) has led the effort to advance U.S. priorities on Internet governance, ensuring an open and global Internet, free from governmental controls. EB led the United States delegation to the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) highest-level treaty conference late last year, securing agreement that there would be no expansion of ITU’s role in Internet governance or cybersecurity. EB is leading the U.S. push to expand access spectrum for mobile broadband and pave the way for remotely piloting aircraft and myriad space science activities at the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) later this year, seizing the opportunity to advance U.S. innovation and economic growth, further strengthen national security, and accelerate U.S. research and leadership."--Testimony of Kurt Tong, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, May 6, 2015 (source: Written Testimony for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy and Environmental Policy)

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07 May 2015

US Ambassador Sepulveda Remarks, Review of Progress, WSIS Outcomes

UNESCO and WSIS | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: 2015 events--

Commission on Science and Technology for Development Eighteenth session
4-8 May 2015
Geneva, Switzerland

WSIS Forum 2015
25-29 May 2015
Geneva, Switzerland

Internet Governance Forum 2015
10-13 November 2015
João Pessoa, Brazil

UNGA High-level Meeting on Overall WSIS+10 Review
15 December 2015
New York, United States

Ambassador Sepulveda: Ten-Year Review of Progress in the Implementation of WSIS Outcomes » US Mission Geneva: Ministerial round table on “Ten-year review of progress made in the implementation of WSIS outcomes” - Eighteenth Session of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, May 4, 2015, as delivered by Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda, Coordinator for International Communication and Information Policy:

Madam Chair and respected colleagues, we appreciate the opportunity to join you for this critical conversation.

When the world gathered a decade ago at the World Summit on the Information Society, those present put forward a vision and challenge for all stakeholders to come together in pursuit of the development of a people centered information society.

Today, the evidence indicates that the community of industry, government, civil society, academia, technologists, and activists that work to expand access to communications has done an admirable job in implementing the WSIS vision. And the report we are considering today captures much of that work. In her forward to that document, Chairman Johnson commended the work of the Secretariat in drawing on previous reports and an open consultation with all stakeholders to provide an overarching assessment of the WSIS to date.

We echo her words, “I commend the work and am convinced that this report provides an excellent basis for the CSTD’s review which, in turn, will contribute to the overall review by the General Assembly in December 2015.”

Thank you Madam Chair, for your work and your leadership.

Colleagues, the world, its connectivity, and people’s access to information has come a long way over the last decade, further than most could have expected and in ways that none of us predicted.

Today we are embarking on an important mission of the overall WSIS review. The Commission’s role to support the Economic and Social Council as the focal point for the system-wide overall WSIS review is recognized in ECOSOC and General Assembly Resolutions adopted last year. We are pleased that the Commission has ably responded to those Resolutions by preparing a balanced, inclusive, and thorough 10-Year Review.

Take a minute to consider the world we live in today compared to that under examination at the WSIS a decade ago:
  • 87 percent of the World’s rural population was covered by mobile networks by the end of 2012, up from 45 per cent in 2003. And the wireless networks of today are dramatically more capable of delivering much richer services than those in service in 2003.
  • Over wire, international bandwidth delivered through submarine cables is estimated to have grown by more than 50 percent each year between 2007 and 2012 – making the promise of broadband accessibility a reachable goal in much of the world.
  • And the proportion of households with a computer worldwide rose from 26.2 percent in 2005 to 40.7 percent in 2012 due to declining costs while still delivering improved performance.
This is a record of global advancement – achieved by various stakeholders in the Internet community. And leveraging the talents and passion of stakeholders moving forward is how we will address the remaining gaps and tackle new challenges.

There remains a lingering digital divide between and within countries, including between rich and poor, men and women, and urban and rural communities. The report notes gaps and challenges across all the WSIS Action Lines that require continued focus and work. It is important that the international community look for ways to address these lingering issues in 2015 and beyond, and the United States of America is prepared to do its part. Our work on the WSIS action lines is not done and the Action Lines will continue to be relevant going forward as the Information Society continues to grow and evolve.

The Review also highlights the value of the Internet Governance Forum. We continue to support the work underway to improve the IGF and thank the Commission once again for its related working group effort several years ago to provide comprehensive recommendations toward that goal. IGF has served an important role, it will continue to do so, and we continue to advocate for the extension of its mandate. We look forward to joining the community for the IGF in Brazil this year and hopefully in Mexico the following. The energy our colleagues in Latin American have brought to the IGF is welcome and promising.

We believe that connecting all of the world’s people to the global network, and ensuring that they have the skills and freedom to use that connectivity productively, is our highest mission. It was addressed as such at the original WSIS meetings in 2003 and 2005, and we cannot afford to lose our focus on its overriding importance as we enter the overall WSIS review. We also cannot afford to deny that the challenge of fully engaging in the information society remains disproportionately real for women and disenfranchised communities. Governments will not solve these challenges alone nor will we solve them by centralizing direction or control. We live in an age that requires cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders.

We continue to welcome multistakeholder participation in the important work of the CSTD. We believe that including all voices in our discussions – Member States, civil society, academia, the technical community, and business – is the best way, the most just and sustainable way, to implement the WSIS vision.

We look forward to the deliberations this week. We will pursue consensus and are committed to working in good faith to fulfill our public mission. Thank you.

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03 May 2015

Assistant Secretary Strickling at Internet2 Global Summit

Remarks of Assistant Secretary Strickling at Internet2 Global Summit | NTIA:
Remarks of Lawrence E. Strickling--As Prepared for Delivery--
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
Internet2 Global Summit
Washington, D.C.
April 28, 2015

I am honored to be here to speak at Internet 2’s Global Summit. Internet2 has been a strong partner with NTIA as a recipient of a $62 million Recovery Act broadband grant. With this grant, Internet2 has lit or upgraded over 18,000 miles of a national fiber backbone network. This 100 gigabit per second backbone is accessible to more than 93,000 community anchor institutions through Internet 2’s partnership with regional research and education networks. Several of these networks also received NTIA grants so we know that in Michigan, North Carolina and numerous other states, the good work of Internet 2 and the research and education community is driving higher speeds and lower cost broadband for schools and other institutions of learning.

However, I did not come here today to talk about broadband. My topic today is Internet governance. This is an important and timely issue for everyone who relies on the Internet but particularly for the members of Internet2. As your website states, “the commercial Internet we know today was shaped by the vision and work of the people and organizations in the Internet2 community.” Indeed, we only enjoy the Internet today due to the engagement of the academic community decades ago.

The first four nodes on ARPANET, the experimental network from which the Internet evolved, were universities: UCLA, Stanford, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Utah. The first message ever sent was between UCLA and Stanford. We know from history that this first attempt to login crashed the system but the problem was quickly fixed and the rest is history.

New challenges to the Internet emerge every day, whether they are related to cybersecurity, privacy, or the free flow of information across borders. As we confront these challenges, we continue to debate a key question that has dominated international discussions over the last decade or so, specifically who should govern the Internet? Who should make the decisions that determine what the Internet of tomorrow will look like? How can we ensure that the decisions made today will enable the Internet to continue to thrive as the amazing engine of economic growth and innovation we enjoy today?

The debate has focused on two very different choices. One choice is that governments alone should make the key decisions on the governance of the Internet. This is the choice favored by authoritarian governments that want to restrict the information available to their citizens. The other choice is to rely on all stakeholders to make these decisions through what is known as the multistakeholder model of Internet governance.

What do we mean by the multistakeholder model? One expert defines the multistakeholder model as different interest groups coming together on an equal footing to “identify problems, define solutions, and agree on roles and responsibilities for policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.[1]”

From that description, there are two key attributes to emphasize: participation and consensus decision-making.

Let me start with participation. Internet policy issues draw a much larger range of stakeholders than traditional telecommunications issues. One key benefit of multistakeholder processes is that they can include and engage all interested parties. Such parties can include industry, civil society, government, technical and academic experts and even the general public. The Internet is a diverse, multi-layered system that thrives only through the cooperation of many different parties. Solving, or even meaningfully discussing, policy issues in this space, requires engaging these different parties. Indeed, by encouraging the participation of all interested parties, multistakeholder processes can encourage broader and more creative problem solving.

The second key attribute is consensus decision-making. It is important that stakeholders come together on an equal footing. The best way to ensure that all parties are treated equally is to make decisions on a consensus basis. Final decisions need to reflect the views of all stakeholders as opposed to just the views of only one of the stakeholder communities involved.

Multistakeholder organizations such as the Internet Engineering Task Force and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have played a major role in the design and operation of the Internet and are directly responsible for its success. Within the Obama Administration, we believe that maintaining and extending this model is important to ensure the continued growth and innovation of the Internet.

There is bipartisan support for the multistakeholder model of Internet governance. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have consistently emphasized that the multistakeholder process is the best mechanism for making decisions about how the Internet should be managed. Congress agrees. Earlier this spring, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 71, which states that the “United States remains committed to the multistakeholder model of Internet governance in which the private sector works in collaboration with civil society, governments, and technical experts in a consensus fashion.”

Today, the Internet is at a critical juncture. We are continuing to oppose efforts by authoritarian regimes to replace multistakeholder decision making with a process limited only to governments. This debate came to a head in 2012 at the International Telecommunication Union’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. At this meeting, governments split over whether the ITU, a United Nations organization in which only nations have a vote, should have more control over the Internet. A majority of countries there supported greater governmental control.

However, since that conference, we have seen a growing acceptance of the multistakeholder model around the world, but particularly in developing countries. Democracies in the developed world have long supported the multistakeholder model of Internet policymaking. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) adopted a set of principles for Internet policymaking in 2011 that strongly endorse multistakeholder cooperation. The OECD principles state, “multistakeholder processes have been shown to provide the flexibility and global scalability required to address Internet policy challenges.”

What is now emerging is greater acceptance of the model in developing countries. A year ago, Brazil hosted the successful NetMundial conference, which brought together a wide range of stakeholders including technical experts, civil society groups, industry representatives and government officials, all on an equal footing with each other. At this meeting not only did participants agree that Internet governance should be built on democratic multistakeholder processes, the entire meeting was a demonstration of the open, participative, and consensus-driven governance that has allowed the Internet to develop as an unparalleled engine of economic growth and innovation.

Most recently, at the ITU’s 2014 Plenipotentiary conference in Busan, Korea late last year, we saw the fruits of all our work to preserve multistakeholder Internet governance. The United States achieved all of its objectives in Busan, including keeping the ITU’s work focused on its current mandate and not expanding its role into Internet and cybersecurity issues.

This validation of the multistakeholder model comes at a critical time. Last year, NTIA announced its intention to complete the privatization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). Key to the operation of the DNS is the performance of important technical functions known as the IANA functions, the most well known of which is the maintenance of the authoritative root zone file, the telephone book for the Internet that supports the routing of all traffic to websites.

The process of privatization of the DNS began in 1998, when NTIA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ICANN to transition technical DNS coordination and management functions to the private sector. A year ago in March, NTIA asked ICANN to convene a multistakeholder process to develop a proposal to take the final step to complete the transition of the U.S. stewardship over the IANA functions to the international community. We did this to ensure that the multistakeholder model for DNS coordination continues. Some governments have long bristled at the historical role the U.S. government has played in the DNS and have used our continued stewardship of the DNS as an excuse to argue for greater government control over how the Internet is governed.

When we announced this transition, we outlined some specific conditions that must be addressed before this transition takes place. First, the proposal must support and enhance the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, in that it should be developed by the multistakeholder community and have broad community support. More specifically, we will not accept a transition proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or intergovernmental organization solution. Second, the proposal must maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the domain name system. Third, it must meet the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA services. And finally, it must maintain the openness of the Internet.

We are pleased that the community has responded enthusiastically to our call to develop a transition plan that will ensure the stability, security and openness of the Internet. The community is in the process of developing proposals related to the specific IANA functions as well as examining how to ensure ICANN remains accountable to the global Internet community.

I am confident that engaging the global Internet community to work out these important issues will strengthen the multistakeholder process and will result in ICANN’s becoming even more directly accountable to the customers of the IANA functions and to the broader Internet community.

Some of you here today are likely participating in the stakeholder discussions to design the transition plan. Others of you are no doubt wondering why you should care about this transition and what is at stake for you. The members of Internet2, such as universities and research institutions, depend on the free flow of information. Completing the privatization of the Domain Name System is an important step to ensure that the Internet remains a global platform for the free exchange of ideas, commerce and social progress.

Failing to complete the transition, as we promised 17 years ago, risks breaking trust in the United States and in the underlying system that has enabled the Internet to work seamlessly for consumers and businesses. Introducing this uncertainty could have a significant impact on American companies that depend on the Internet to do business if other countries respond by erecting barriers to the free flow of information or worst case, abandoning the long-held belief in the power of a single Internet root.

The transition plan is being developed by the Internet’s stakeholders and must be a proposal that generates consensus support from the multistakeholder community. All of you can play a role to ensure a good outcome. First, I encourage you to participate in the transition planning process. You are an important constituency and those crafting this plan must hear from you as this transition progresses. Second, stay informed on the progress of the transition. When the community completes its consensus plan, let your voice be heard in support of completing the transition. We all have a stake in this transition and in ensuring the Internet remains an open, dynamic platform for economic and social progress. Decades ago, the academic community played a central role in the development of the Internet; now we need you to play an active role in its future. Thank you for listening.

[1] Mueller, M.2010. Networks and States, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, at 82, quoting Karen Banks.

01 May 2015

US Trademark Use Requirement, Risks and Strategies for Chinese Applicants

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