Washington, DC – Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coaliton) Co-Founder and Board Chair Christian Dawson released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address:
“In his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama briefly mentioned two issues that are of vital importance to the Internet infrastructure industry – the NSA’s surveillance programs and patent reforms. The brevity of the President’s comments on these issues belies the importance they play in today’s high-tech economy.
“While we are happy to see the President address these areas of concern, each requires bold action to ensure that our vibrant Internet economy can continue to thrive.
“In regards to NSA surveillance, it is imperative that we strike the appropriate balance between privacy and security. Without actions that include meaningful reforms to both bulk surveillance, and the indiscriminate use of National Security Letters, altogether such a balance is unlikely to be achieved.
“Bulk collection programs employed by the National Security Agency are neglecting civil liberties and undermining privacy. Reports of unchecked and often warrantless electronic surveillance deepen the concerns that our customers have over their information’s security, at home and overseas.
“This has a strong economic impact on U.S. Internet companies, potentially costing U.S. based cloud providers up to $35 billion in revenue. At the same time, countries like Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil are actively seeking to cut ties with U.S. web hosts, insisting that data will be better protected on domestic servers.
“While we need to work together to make these reforms, our industry is under attack from patent trolls. Costing $29 billion dollars to businesses in direct payouts in 2011 alone, abuse of the current patent system is a drastic problem.
“Patent trolls continue to impact our nation’s economy by attacking legitimate businesses. Frivolous lawsuits such as those put forth by patent trolls are a drag on innovation for our i2Coalition members – those that make up the nuts and bolts of the Internet.
“The Internet is a story of economic success and one that shines especially bright in a struggling overall economy. The President and Congress need to work together to ensure that all impacted industries have a seat at the table so that this engine of economic growth continues to move forward. Washington must rise up to the challenge to ensure that Internet innovation continues to fuel the economic recovery.”