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Rep's efforts on union dues applauded

As a public employee and constituent of State Rep. Kim Thatcher, I believe a recent "Box of Soap" commentary was off base. Mr. Vowell criticized Rep. Thatcher for exercising her democratic right to be a chief petitioner on an initiative. FreedomWorks asked Thatcher if she would co-sponsor a measure to stop using taxpayer money to collect union dues. She supports the concept and was happy to lend her name.

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Letter to Editor

Rep's efforts on union dues applauded

BY Davis I. Dyer

As a public employee and constituent of State Rep. Kim Thatcher, I believe a recent "Box of Soap" commentary was off base. Mr. Vowell criticized Rep. Thatcher for exercising her democratic right to be a chief petitioner on an initiative. FreedomWorks asked Thatcher if she would co-sponsor a measure to stop using taxpayer money to collect union dues. She supports the concept and was happy to lend her name.

10/21/2005
The RIAA Sledgehammer

The battle between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Internet music downloaders continues to rage, and is beginning to take its toll, not just on musical mutineers, but on the Internet community as a whole. Using the broad reach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the RIAA is pressing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into service, demanding they turn over the names of potential copyright violators. The problem is, however, that the RIAA is using a sledgehammer on a pin, and, unfortunately, that sledgehammer is available to virtually anyone who cares to wield it.

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Press Release

The RIAA Sledgehammer

The battle between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Internet music downloaders continues to rage, and is beginning to take its toll, not just on musical mutineers, but on the Internet community as a whole. Using the broad reach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the RIAA is pressing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into service, demanding they turn over the names of potential copyright violators. The problem is, however, that the RIAA is using a sledgehammer on a pin, and, unfortunately, that sledgehammer is available to virtually anyone who cares to wield it.

08/14/2003
Privacy Interests Debate Credit-Reporting Law

Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

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Privacy Interests Debate Credit-Reporting Law

BY Drew Clark

Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

07/05/2003
Regulators, Privacy Interests Debate Credit-Reporting Law

Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates. By Drew Clark

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Regulators, Privacy Interests Debate Credit-Reporting Law

BY Drew Clark

Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates. By Drew Clark

06/05/2003
Regulators, Privacy Interests Debate Credit-Reporting Law

Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW

Regulators, Privacy Interests Debate Credit-Reporting Law

BY Drew Clark

Congress should not permit a law governing credit reporting to expire at the end of the year because of the law's strong consumer benefits, three federal and state financial-services regulators told a congressional panel on Wednesday. But those regulators -- from the Federal Reserve Bank, National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Conference of State Bank Supervisors -- were challenged by Julie Brill, assistant attorney general of Vermont, who said Congress should let the law lapse. Brill, who is co-chairwoman of the privacy working group of the National Association of Attorneys General, said the current credit-granting system is not uniform and that states like Vermont with stricter pre-existing laws have not suffered because of them. Brill found a receptive ear among Democrats on the House Financial Services Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee in the second of a series of hearings on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. "Sometimes this discussion sounds a little Orwellian to me," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee ranking member Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. "The people who say they trust the states to do the best job" change their mind when businesses say federal pre-emption of tougher state laws is necessary. When subcommittee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., questioned Brill's stance in light of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan's support for the extension, Sanders interjected, "In Vermont, some of us do, occasionally, dispute Chairman Greenspan." The industry and broader business communities are mounting a major lobbying push this year to extend the FCRA pre-emption Congress enacted in 1996. Business groups worry that failure to reauthorize the extensions would lop a full percentage point off the gross domestic product and limit consumers' ability to get quick loan decisions. But privacy and consumer advocates say that states need to fight for stricter privacy laws and that the 1996 act may have spurred an increase in identity theft. Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said on Wednesday that the agency's five commissioners have no official position. But a solid majority of those who testified on Wednesday urged extending the pre-emption. They represented groups such as the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Allstate, the National Multi-Housing Counsel, Citizens for a Sound Economy and the major credit-bureau companies. Opponents included the U.S. Public Research Interest Group and National Fair Housing Alliance, and a trial attorney with the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

06/05/2003
Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee hearing on "Fair Credit Reporting Act: How it Functions for Cons…

< p>Howard Beales, director, Bureau of Consumer Affairs, Federal Trade Commission; Dolores Smith, director, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Gregory Serio, superintendent of insurance, State of New York, representing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners; Julie Brill, assistant attorney general, State of Vermont; Joseph Smith, commissioner of Banks, State of North Carolina, representing the Conference of State Bank Supervisors; Ramon Rodriguez, COO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Kevin Sullivan, vice preside

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Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee hearing on "Fair Credit Reporting Act: How it Functions for Cons&hellip;

< p>Howard Beales, director, Bureau of Consumer Affairs, Federal Trade Commission; Dolores Smith, director, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Gregory Serio, superintendent of insurance, State of New York, representing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners; Julie Brill, assistant attorney general, State of Vermont; Joseph Smith, commissioner of Banks, State of North Carolina, representing the Conference of State Bank Supervisors; Ramon Rodriguez, COO, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Kevin Sullivan, vice preside

06/04/2003
Verizon Pursues Appeal of RIAA Subpeona As Opposition Grows

Backed by growing number of allies, Verizon said Thurs. it would appeal decision permitting RIAA to use subpoena issued under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to uncover identity of subscriber said to be committing massive online copyright infringement. At news briefing, company said it would ask U.S. Dist Court, D.C., to stay its Jan. 21 order pending appeal to U.S. Appeals Court, D.C. Case, RIAA v. Verizon Internet Services, is considered test case on DMCA subpoena power. Verizon is seeking stay so it doesn't have to turn over personal information about its subscriber, as it was ordered to do by lower court, Verizon Senior Vp-Deputy Gen. Counsel John Thorne SAID. In its appeal, Verizon will argue that: (1) Art. III of Constitution confines federal court power -- including subpoena power -- to "cases and controversies," something that it said was lacking in this situation because RIAA never filed actual lawsuit. (2) First Amendment grants citizens right to speak anonymously. (3) DMCA subpoena provision doesn't apply to people who merely use Internet to view Web sites or send e-mail. Legal issue, Thorne said, is whether private parties can compel disclosure of who someone is and where the person lives based on an Internet address. Safeguards that apply in normal subpoena cases aren't present here, Thorne said, because RIAA is suing "software agents" or "bots" that scour Internet looking for potential infringers and then generate take-down notices. Issue goes beyond copyright, he said, because if trial court's decision is left standing, stalkers, strangers and anyone else will be able to obtain user's identity via DMCA's automated process. Verizon met with RIAA last week to ask group's approval for seeking stay, Thorne said. Not only did RIAA refuse -- saying it wanted immediate enforcement of decision -- but it told Verizon volume of subpoenas it anticipated being issued would be so large that it needed to link to Verizon's computers to facilitate transfer of identifying information. That's a "nonstarter," Thorne said. RIAA said it would, "not surprisingly," oppose Verizon's request for stay. Court had rejected Verizon's claims and company shouldn't "be permitted to ignore a law Judge Bates thought clear," said Matthew Oppenheim, RIAA senior vp- business & legal affairs. "It's a shame that Verizon has resorted to mischaracterizations and consumer scare tactics, a trait we understand they are well known for in public policy debates. Just ask some of the small, local telephone and DSL providers." Verizon has received support from several groups. At briefing Thurs., Consumer Federation of America (CFA) Research Dir. Mark Cooper said consumers considered this a "big case." DMCA is "bad law and bad policy," he said: It's unconstitutional and destroys the "open, dynamic environment the Internet was." While "real police" have to convince judge or magistrate of need for subpoena, he said, "Internet KGB" doesn't. CFA believes in enforcing copyright traditional way, he said, and DMCA destroys consumers' faith in balance between consumer rights and copyrights. Peter Swire, who was Clinton Administration's chief counselor for privacy and is now law prof. at Ohio State U.'s Moritz College of Law, said he would file declaration on behalf of Verizon arguing that what RIAA was doing was invasion of privacy. Under DMCA, he said, once Web site picked up someone's address, anyone could gain access to it without due process or judicial supervision. "I've never seen any provision like this," he said. Law opens door to scenarios in which either subpoenas are filed fraudulently or there's an arguable copyright claim, he said. Verizon's decision to appeal was hailed by many. Alliance for Public Technology said online privacy must be protected. Digital Media Assn. Exec. Dir. Jonathan Potter called RIAA's action "another court test of the customer- monitoring and policing obligations of all [ISPs] and connected digital services." Public Knowledge said it supported enforcement of copyright laws to limit illegal peer-to-peer file-swapping, but "these laws should not be enforced without due process." Allowing copyright owners to learn names of Internet users without any judicial imprimatur permits virtual "witch hunts" for defendants "presenting the worst facts of having profiles least likely to garner public or judicial sympathy," group said. Telecom Research & Action Center, telecom-focused consumer group, said it was concerned that giving up personal information without legal safeguards would "irrevocably harm consumers and ultimately the usefulness of online services." National Assn. of Consumer Agency Administrators said RIAA's subpoena "represents an issue of grave concerns to consumers and consumer advocates." Many consumers, it said, don't trust companies to keep their personal information private. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), bipartisan organization of state legislators, urged court to stop RIAA from seeking identity of Verizon's subscriber. DMCA doesn't create class of property superior to tangible property, said Morgan Long, dir. of ALEC's telecom & information technology task force. "The property interests of RIAA are of not less significance constitutionally and statutorily than that of Verizon's own property rights and the property rights of its customers." Citizens for a Sound Economy branded trial court decision "neither proconsumer nor reasonable public policy." U.S. Internet Industry Assn. also criticized ruling, saying Congress never intended for copyright holders to have right to invade consumers' personal privacy without due process of law. World has changed since DMCA was enacted in 1998, CFA's Cooper said. At time, he said, no one thought act was aimed at home Internet users. If DMCA were "rattling around" now it would be viewed much differently," he said. -- Dugie Standeford

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Verizon Pursues Appeal of RIAA Subpeona As Opposition Grows

Backed by growing number of allies, Verizon said Thurs. it would appeal decision permitting RIAA to use subpoena issued under Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to uncover identity of subscriber said to be committing massive online copyright infringement. At news briefing, company said it would ask U.S. Dist Court, D.C., to stay its Jan. 21 order pending appeal to U.S. Appeals Court, D.C. Case, RIAA v. Verizon Internet Services, is considered test case on DMCA subpoena power. Verizon is seeking stay so it doesn't have to turn over personal information about its subscriber, as it was ordered to do by lower court, Verizon Senior Vp-Deputy Gen. Counsel John Thorne SAID. In its appeal, Verizon will argue that: (1) Art. III of Constitution confines federal court power -- including subpoena power -- to "cases and controversies," something that it said was lacking in this situation because RIAA never filed actual lawsuit. (2) First Amendment grants citizens right to speak anonymously. (3) DMCA subpoena provision doesn't apply to people who merely use Internet to view Web sites or send e-mail. Legal issue, Thorne said, is whether private parties can compel disclosure of who someone is and where the person lives based on an Internet address. Safeguards that apply in normal subpoena cases aren't present here, Thorne said, because RIAA is suing "software agents" or "bots" that scour Internet looking for potential infringers and then generate take-down notices. Issue goes beyond copyright, he said, because if trial court's decision is left standing, stalkers, strangers and anyone else will be able to obtain user's identity via DMCA's automated process. Verizon met with RIAA last week to ask group's approval for seeking stay, Thorne said. Not only did RIAA refuse -- saying it wanted immediate enforcement of decision -- but it told Verizon volume of subpoenas it anticipated being issued would be so large that it needed to link to Verizon's computers to facilitate transfer of identifying information. That's a "nonstarter," Thorne said. RIAA said it would, "not surprisingly," oppose Verizon's request for stay. Court had rejected Verizon's claims and company shouldn't "be permitted to ignore a law Judge Bates thought clear," said Matthew Oppenheim, RIAA senior vp- business & legal affairs. "It's a shame that Verizon has resorted to mischaracterizations and consumer scare tactics, a trait we understand they are well known for in public policy debates. Just ask some of the small, local telephone and DSL providers." Verizon has received support from several groups. At briefing Thurs., Consumer Federation of America (CFA) Research Dir. Mark Cooper said consumers considered this a "big case." DMCA is "bad law and bad policy," he said: It's unconstitutional and destroys the "open, dynamic environment the Internet was." While "real police" have to convince judge or magistrate of need for subpoena, he said, "Internet KGB" doesn't. CFA believes in enforcing copyright traditional way, he said, and DMCA destroys consumers' faith in balance between consumer rights and copyrights. Peter Swire, who was Clinton Administration's chief counselor for privacy and is now law prof. at Ohio State U.'s Moritz College of Law, said he would file declaration on behalf of Verizon arguing that what RIAA was doing was invasion of privacy. Under DMCA, he said, once Web site picked up someone's address, anyone could gain access to it without due process or judicial supervision. "I've never seen any provision like this," he said. Law opens door to scenarios in which either subpoenas are filed fraudulently or there's an arguable copyright claim, he said. Verizon's decision to appeal was hailed by many. Alliance for Public Technology said online privacy must be protected. Digital Media Assn. Exec. Dir. Jonathan Potter called RIAA's action "another court test of the customer- monitoring and policing obligations of all [ISPs] and connected digital services." Public Knowledge said it supported enforcement of copyright laws to limit illegal peer-to-peer file-swapping, but "these laws should not be enforced without due process." Allowing copyright owners to learn names of Internet users without any judicial imprimatur permits virtual "witch hunts" for defendants "presenting the worst facts of having profiles least likely to garner public or judicial sympathy," group said. Telecom Research & Action Center, telecom-focused consumer group, said it was concerned that giving up personal information without legal safeguards would "irrevocably harm consumers and ultimately the usefulness of online services." National Assn. of Consumer Agency Administrators said RIAA's subpoena "represents an issue of grave concerns to consumers and consumer advocates." Many consumers, it said, don't trust companies to keep their personal information private. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), bipartisan organization of state legislators, urged court to stop RIAA from seeking identity of Verizon's subscriber. DMCA doesn't create class of property superior to tangible property, said Morgan Long, dir. of ALEC's telecom & information technology task force. "The property interests of RIAA are of not less significance constitutionally and statutorily than that of Verizon's own property rights and the property rights of its customers." Citizens for a Sound Economy branded trial court decision "neither proconsumer nor reasonable public policy." U.S. Internet Industry Assn. also criticized ruling, saying Congress never intended for copyright holders to have right to invade consumers' personal privacy without due process of law. World has changed since DMCA was enacted in 1998, CFA's Cooper said. At time, he said, no one thought act was aimed at home Internet users. If DMCA were "rattling around" now it would be viewed much differently," he said. -- Dugie Standeford

01/31/2003
Big Technology Firms Take on Hollywood Over Piracy

Some of the biggest US technology firms joined Thursday with consumer organizations and others to fight Hollywood's demands for mandatory technology to prevent piracy of films and other digital entertainment. The new group, the Alliance for Digital Progress (ADP), includes Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and Apple, as well as several consumer groups, think tanks, taxpayer organizations and businesses.

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Big Technology Firms Take on Hollywood Over Piracy

BY Rob Lever

Some of the biggest US technology firms joined Thursday with consumer organizations and others to fight Hollywood's demands for mandatory technology to prevent piracy of films and other digital entertainment. The new group, the Alliance for Digital Progress (ADP), includes Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and Apple, as well as several consumer groups, think tanks, taxpayer organizations and businesses.

01/23/2003
Big Technology Firms Take on Hollywood Over Piracy

Big US tech firms joined Thursday with consumer groups and others to fight Hollywood's demands for mandatory technology to prevent piracy of films and other digital entertainment. The new coalition, the Alliance for Digital Progress (ADP), includes Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and Apple, as well as several consumer groups, think tanks, taxpayer organizations and other organizations. The alliance will lobby to dissuade Congress from passing laws requiring anti-piracy technology in computers, DVD players and other electronic devices. Alliance members say that they do not advocate distributing illegal copies, but that mandatory technology aimed at stopping piracy would be a solution worse than the problem. "Piracy of digital content is a serious, complex problem that concerns all of us," said Fred McClure, president of the alliance. "But government-designed and mandated technology that swaps the diversity of marketplace solutions for a 'one size fits all' approach is not the answer. Mandates are a mistake. A mandate will raise the price of everything from CD players and DVD players to personal computers. It will make the devices consumers own today obsolete. And it will stifle the innovation at the heart of digital progress." Consumers and technology groups have been concerned about possible legislation that could require technology that makes it hard to copy films or music or make it impossible to play DVDs on more than one device. "We are greatly concerned that Hollywood is trying to pressure Congress into forcing technology mandates onto American consumers," McClure said. "Hollywood should be working with others in the private sector to develop solutions to the piracy problem that will succeed in the marketplace and benefit consumers." Although the music industry said recently it would stop lobbying efforts for such mandates, Hollywood's main lobby group, the Motion Picture Association of America, has maintained its policy. "Hollywood leaders like Jack Valenti (of the MPAA) would have organized the monks to burn down Gutenberg's printing press if they were alive during that period of rapid change and innovation," said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, a high-tech group that is part of the alliance. "Legislators have heard Hollywood's pleas to stifle innovation, but more education will help them make informed decisions. We look forward to working with ADP to make sure all sides are heard when it comes to digital rights management." The MPAA had no comment on the new alliance, but last week Valenti argued that Hollywood may split with the music industry on the issue. even though they have been united against swapping services like Napster. "The film and music industries are separate, unique enterprises with different strategies for addressing the outstanding issues concerning digital copy protection," Valenti said last week. "We are not prepared to abandon the option of seeking technical protection measures via the Congress or appropriate regulatory agency, when necessary." Valenti and other Hollywood executives have claimed piracy is one of the biggest threats to the industry, potentially costing billions of dollars and depriving creative artists of royalties. Digital rights advocates say Hollywood has cried wolf before, having sought special protection against videotapes when VHS technology arrived, but noted that the industry's 2002 revenues set a record for the third year running. The alliance includes several other tech firms including IBM, Dell Computer, Motorola and Hewlett Packard; and a hodgepodge of organizations including Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers.

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Big Technology Firms Take on Hollywood Over Piracy

BY Rob Lever

Big US tech firms joined Thursday with consumer groups and others to fight Hollywood's demands for mandatory technology to prevent piracy of films and other digital entertainment. The new coalition, the Alliance for Digital Progress (ADP), includes Microsoft, Cisco, Intel and Apple, as well as several consumer groups, think tanks, taxpayer organizations and other organizations. The alliance will lobby to dissuade Congress from passing laws requiring anti-piracy technology in computers, DVD players and other electronic devices. Alliance members say that they do not advocate distributing illegal copies, but that mandatory technology aimed at stopping piracy would be a solution worse than the problem. "Piracy of digital content is a serious, complex problem that concerns all of us," said Fred McClure, president of the alliance. "But government-designed and mandated technology that swaps the diversity of marketplace solutions for a 'one size fits all' approach is not the answer. Mandates are a mistake. A mandate will raise the price of everything from CD players and DVD players to personal computers. It will make the devices consumers own today obsolete. And it will stifle the innovation at the heart of digital progress." Consumers and technology groups have been concerned about possible legislation that could require technology that makes it hard to copy films or music or make it impossible to play DVDs on more than one device. "We are greatly concerned that Hollywood is trying to pressure Congress into forcing technology mandates onto American consumers," McClure said. "Hollywood should be working with others in the private sector to develop solutions to the piracy problem that will succeed in the marketplace and benefit consumers." Although the music industry said recently it would stop lobbying efforts for such mandates, Hollywood's main lobby group, the Motion Picture Association of America, has maintained its policy. "Hollywood leaders like Jack Valenti (of the MPAA) would have organized the monks to burn down Gutenberg's printing press if they were alive during that period of rapid change and innovation," said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, a high-tech group that is part of the alliance. "Legislators have heard Hollywood's pleas to stifle innovation, but more education will help them make informed decisions. We look forward to working with ADP to make sure all sides are heard when it comes to digital rights management." The MPAA had no comment on the new alliance, but last week Valenti argued that Hollywood may split with the music industry on the issue. even though they have been united against swapping services like Napster. "The film and music industries are separate, unique enterprises with different strategies for addressing the outstanding issues concerning digital copy protection," Valenti said last week. "We are not prepared to abandon the option of seeking technical protection measures via the Congress or appropriate regulatory agency, when necessary." Valenti and other Hollywood executives have claimed piracy is one of the biggest threats to the industry, potentially costing billions of dollars and depriving creative artists of royalties. Digital rights advocates say Hollywood has cried wolf before, having sought special protection against videotapes when VHS technology arrived, but noted that the industry's 2002 revenues set a record for the third year running. The alliance includes several other tech firms including IBM, Dell Computer, Motorola and Hewlett Packard; and a hodgepodge of organizations including Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Association of Manufacturers.

01/23/2003
U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) Holds Hearing on the Fair Credit Reporting Act

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U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) Holds Hearing on the Fair Credit Reporting Act

01/01/2003

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