The following is a special post from i2Coalition Executive Director and Co-Founder, Christian Dawson.
2017 has been one of the most challenging years on record for the Internet infrastructure industry, despite its continued importance and growth. Existing policies that help protect our industry, such as 2015’s Open Internet Order and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, have been under threat. Simultaneously, new laws, such the Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act, also known as the “Hacking Back Bill”, had the potential to plunge us into a cybersecurity arms race or worse. Net Neutrality took a major blow and will need to be dealt with in Congress. International data flow questions have been raised once more, as GDPR looms in 2018. The i2Coalition has been tackling complex issues and political situations, making significant progress on critical issues. We are needed now more than ever. Below is an overview of some of 2017’s most critical issues and how the voices of our members have mattered.
This year the i2Coalition has expressed concern over the Trump Administration’s proposed NAFTA modernization. In May the i2Coalition commented on U.S. proposed negotiating objectives. In our comments, we requested that in formulating its negotiating objectives, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) take into consideration the fact that Internet infrastructure provider’s business is primarily facilitating the commerce and digital activities of others. We continued our NAFTA advocacy by joining with seven other allied tech associations who sent a letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthiser, expressing serious concerns about changes to the U.S. negotiating strategy on intellectual property.
In May the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its Notice of Public Rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM proposed to change various aspects of the Obama Administration’s 2015 Open Internet Order. This Open Internet Order made changes to the classification of certain Internet providers in a way that sought to ensure net neutrality. We have supported public protests and released several articles setting out why we think the Open Internet Order is still the best way forward for the Internet. On December 14th, the FCC voted to terminate the Open Internet Order. The i2Coalition continues to believe that the Internet needs strong net neutrality protections, and is working on new strategies to work towards that goal.
In March the i2Coalition sent a letter to the leadership of the House Judiciary Committee regarding reform of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA allows US intelligence agencies to collect emails and other information on non-US citizens, and explicitly bans the gathering of information from US citizens without a warrant. i2Coalition sent the letter in order to engage Judiciary leadership during the Section 702 reauthorization debate, to discuss the positive economic benefits of additional reforms to enhance public confidence, transparency, and privacy. Later in May the i2Coalition joined a group of 24 tech industry leaders and associations in sending another letter to House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA), regarding reform priorities for Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 (50 U.S.C. 1881a). That letter recommends specific reforms be considered upon the renewal of Section 702. Recommendations include judicial oversight of data collection practices, a narrower definition of “foreign intelligence information”, and increased transparency in data collection operations. On December 31st, 2017, FISA Section 702 is scheduled to sunset unless it is renewed through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA). i2Coalition will be working through the holidays to attempt to ensure that surveillance reform is made a part of the expected renewal.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
In 1996, Congress passed Section 230, an amendment to the Communications Decency Act that protects Internet providers from being liable for the content placed on their servers by users. Section 230 is crucial for Internet companies given the sheer volume of content created daily online. Internet business, such as websites, ISPs, web-hosting providers, and online advertisers, as well as users, would be critically undermined without it, making the Internet as we know it impossible.
This past August, i2Coalition joined a number of its allied associations in expressing concern over the well-intentioned Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). SESTA is drafted to deal with the very serious problem of sex trafficking. However, its design will erode vital Section 230 protections. i2Coalition believes that the erosion of Section 230 would actually be counterproductive to combating trafficking crimes. We have come out in support of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). This more narrowly drafted bill is a better way to effectively combat sex trafficking without eroding Section 230. The bills approach and handle the same problem in very different ways.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Cross-border data flows are one of the most important issues to our members in today’s global economy. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which deals with how businesses handle certain data from individuals in Europe, will become effective in May of 2018. Helping members understand new regulations is a core part of the i2Coalition mission. To facilitate this, the i2Coalition organized webinars with leading U.S. and European regulators charged with implementing the GDPR. These webinars were designed to help U.S. organizations with international and European clients to understand how the GDPR may affect their businesses and to implement strategies ensuring compliance with the regulation.
CCWG Accountability Workstream II
One of i2Coalition’s largest accomplishments in 2016 was the completion of the IANA Transition. A key aspect of allowing the IANA contract authority to pass to ICANN without National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) oversight was a series of accountability changes within ICANN, to ensure that the community was self-sustaining. The CCWG Accountability process was split into two workstreams, one that needed to be completed before the IANA transition and one that could be completed afterward. i2Coalition remains engaged in CCWG Accountability Workstream II, ensuring that the promises made during the IANA transition are kept and that ICANN remains accountable to the global Internet community.
The i2Coalition Gender Diversity & Equity Initiative is focused on the promotion of gender diversity and general equality within the technology industry. This working group of our members supports this initiative by engaging industry leaders to publicly discuss how diversity and equity improvements can be made and advising and partnering with existing groups that support diversity and equity in technology education and workplaces. In 2017 the GDEI held several successful industry events alongside major conferences including HostingCon, whd.Global and a special presentation with GoDaddy on their industry-leading parental leave policies.
i2Coalition continued to provide strong guiding leadership to the Universal Acceptance Steering Group, an important organization attempting to ensure that we are able to connect the next billion users in their own languages. UASG Executive Director Don Hollander recently provided his thoughts in an i2Coalition guest blog post.
2017 Member Fly-In
i2Coalition had its largest and most successful Member Fly-in to-date in 2017 and was proud to issue its Community Leadership Award to Tucows CEO Elliot Noss, and legislative awards to Senator Patrick Leahy and Chairman Bob Goodlatte.
2017 has been a busier year than we expected, and these are only a few highlights. It looks like things aren’t going to be slowing down much in 2018. The fight for strong net neutrality protections will be an important part of 2018, as will more vital work on trade and privacy protections. i2Coalition will continue to fight legislation that will hurt the Internet. It will continue to educate legislators on how the Internet works. It will welcome its first European Board Chair, Michele Neylon. It will continue to grow its efforts towards more gender diversity in tech. It will seek to accomplish even more in 2018 than it has in 2017. We look forward to being a positive force for the Internet.