Looking back on a year of wins as we rise to face some of our biggest battles yet in 2020
The i2Coalition is the voice for the businesses that build the Internet, the vast majority of whom are small businesses and startups. We work to ensure the Internet is an environment where commerce and innovation can flourish. And in an increasingly global ecosystem, we seek similar legal frameworks from country to country, which helps them compete.
A highlight of the year was our annual DC Fly-In where we brought a delegation of i2Coalition members to Capitol Hill to provide specific information to lawmakers on how to keep the Internet as a platform for economic growth and free communication. But there was much more to our year than that.
As we look back on a watershed year, we had many successes in 2019: organizational growth, new projects, legislative, and trade wins. We outline a few of them below:
USMCA & U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement: With the House of Representatives voting soon on the new North American free trade deal, the i2Coalition advocated for intermediary liability protections in the digital chapter of the USMCA following the principles of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The i2Coalition similarly advocated for the digital trade language to be included in the U.S.-Japan trade agreement, which Japan has now ratified.
CDA Section 230 and DMCA Section 512: As legislators talk about amending or upending CDA Section 230, we have engaged in key discussions about the importance of both Section 230 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), to our industry and the Internet ecosystem. We have been active in providing briefings on responsible ways to deal with abuse online without eroding these vital protections.
Notorious Markets: The USTR Special 301 Report discusses “Notorious Markets” that aid online piracy, and it has had a history of incorrectly listing many infrastructure providers as notorious markets. We directly advised the USTR, in addition to contributing to the public comment process by making the case that many Internet intermediaries are wrongly named notorious markets, that technologies aren’t notorious by nature, and our members shouldn’t be unduly and unfairly targeted as intermediaries.
WHOIS privacy: With the looming threat of going back to public WHOIS records, where personal information including name, phone number, email, and mailing address were available for anyone to see, we provided briefings on Capitol Hill about the issue of WHOIS privacy, educating government agencies and other key individuals on the ongoing process to reform WHOIS at ICANN.
Transatlantic Privacy Roundtables: In 2019, we held three Transatlantic Privacy Roundtables in conjunction with our partners at eco, a major European Internet industry association. We held additional GDPR-focused briefings in D.C.
U.S. Privacy Law: We co-authored with eco a white paper to U.S. legislators designed to help them learn from the rollout of GDPR, to achieve the best policy outcomes and minimize the downsides.
Growing Institutional Influence: David Snead, i2Coalition Co-Founder, Board Chair and Working Public Policy Chair, continues to be on the USTR’s Industry Trade Advisory Committee as a Digital Economy advisor. In this prestigious role, he continues to provide real access to the USTR and a significant voice in trade policy.
We were also one of the groups who worked hard to get intermediary protection language into USMCA and U.S.-Japan Trade agreements.
The VPN Trust Initiative (“VTI”)
Virtual Private Networks are essential to a safer and more private Internet experience, yet many policymakers want to ban encrypted communications. The i2Coalition launched the VPN Trust Initiative in December 2019, as the industry’s best hope for developing important VPN industry principles and best practices that foster trust in VPNs and communicate their value publicly.
ICANN & Internet Governance
Along with having an active and engaged presence at each ICANN meeting worldwide, we provided public comments on Internet governance issues; such as, the ICANN Budget, Multistakeholderism, the .Amazon Domain Decision, and Public WHOIS.
The Diversity and Inclusion Initiative
The Diversity and Inclusion Initiative (DII) has helped move the dial on paid parental leave, which has an enormous effect on new parents. Over the course of this year, we’ve provided education through the DII on workplace bullying and harassment, as well as unconscious and implicit bias. Through mixers at industry conferences and other events, we’ve developed an engagement network.
The Year Ahead
In 2020, we expect to see our work contributing to some trade wins for the Internet infrastructure industry, but there are also some very big threats on the horizon.
Both Section 230 and Section 512 of the DMCA in the U.S. are under intense scrutiny right now, and the EU’s Digital Services Act could undermine some progress on intermediary liability, if not implemented correctly.
Intermediary protections is a foundational issue for the i2Coalition; our organization first came together to fight the passage of PIPA/SOPA, and next year will be a return to those key center-stage fights in a real way. Back to our origins!
Next year will be one of the most difficult yet, but with the strength of our members, we’re feeling very optimistic and will be taking on those challenges with full strength.