As Congress considers whether to provide emergency assistance to the Big Three automakers, a number of advocates have called for tying such aid to significant reforms by the automakers. In this Washington Times op-ed Rob Atkinson and Mark Cooper argue that Congress should tie any aid to automakers to preemption of anti-consumer state auto dealer franchise law, including laws that prohibit auto manufactures from selling directly to consumers over the Internet. In doing so, Congress can not only help the Big Three but bring down the cost of vehicles for consumers as well.
Digital Quality of Life: Understanding the Benefits of the IT Revolution
In the new global economy information technology (IT) is the major driver of both economic growth and improved quality of life. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) in its 2007 report Digital Prosperity: Understanding the Economic Benefits of the Information Technology Revolution documented how IT, since the mid-1990s, has been the principal driver of increased economic growth not only in the United States but also in many other nations. However, IT is also at the core of dramatic improvements in the quality of life for individuals around the world. In our new report, we show how IT is the key enabler of many, if not most, of today’s key innovations and improvements in our lives and society—from better education and health care, to a cleaner and more energy-efficient environment, to safer and more secure communities and nations.
Table of Contents
Part I – The Digital Information Revolution
- 1. Why is the Digital Information Revolution So Powerful?
- 2. Why is the Information Revolution Happening Now?
- 3. Public Policy Principles for Driving Digital Quality of Life
Part II – Improving the Lives of Individuals
- 4. Education and Training
- 5. Health Care
- 6. Personal Safety
- 7. Accessibility for People with Disabilities
- 8. Recreation and Entertainment
- 9. Access to Information
Part III – Improving our World
- 10. Environment
- 11. Energy
- 12. Transportation
- 13. Public Safety
- 14. Government
- 15. Communities
- 16. Developing Countries
Part IV – Challenges Moving Forward
Comparing the Presidential Candidates' Technology and Innovation Policies
Innovation drives long-term national economic growth and has in fact been responsible for 80 percent of the growth in the U.S. economy since World War II. This places technology and innovation squarely at the center of the issue – the economy – that voters have identified as the most important in the 2008 Presidential election. Both John McCain and Barack Obama’s campaigns increasingly recognize the central role that science, technology, and innovation play in economic growth and have developed specific policy positions on these issues. This ITIF policy brief compares and assesses the candidates’ technology and innovation policies across a number of specific issues areas, including: taxes, R&D funding, broadband and net neutrality, e-government, digital transformation, education and workforce development, trade, patent and intellectual property, and energy and the environment.
Buying Contact Lenses Online: A Critique of the Fogel and Zidile Optometry Journal Study
There has been perhaps no profession that has more aggressively sought to fend off e-commerce competition than optometry which has used a variety of means to limit the sales of contact lenses online. Their trade association, the American Optometric Association, has used all manner of efforts to limit online competitors. Their most recent attempt to discredit the practice of online sales of contact lenses and build support among legislators and regulators for restrictive legislation is their publication in their journal Optometry of a study that purports to find that contact lens patients are more at risk when buying lenses online than those who buy their lenses directly from an optometrist. There is only one problem: the study has serious methodological limitations and flaws that suggest that it would inappropriate to draw the conclusions from it that the industry is drawing. This ITIF report analyzes the study and finds that not only is the study fraught with flaws in much of the methodology, but many of the implications suggested by the authors are either over-reaching in their scope, fallacious in their reasoning, or silent in refuting equally plausible alternative explanations.
ITIF Comments on the Midterm Review of the Joint Project Agreement between NTIA and ICANN
ITIF recently submitted comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the Midterm Review of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA).
The JPA is the most recent agreement between the Department of Commerce's NTIA and ICANN which outlines the responsibilities of ICANN to maintain a secure and stable DNS. In addition, the JPA reaffirms the Department of Commerce's commitment to the goal of transitioning the technical coordination of the DNS to the private sector in a manner that promotes stability and security, competition, bottom-up coordination, and representation. As part of this commitment, the Department of Commerce agreed to monitor the performance of ICANN in relation to the JPA.
However, ICANN has recently submitted a statement to NTIA in which it boldly claims that “the JPA is no longer necessary. Concluding it is the next step in the transition of the coordination of the Domain Name System (DNS) to the private sector.” While ICANN cites many accomplishments, none of these provide sufficient reason for NTIA to terminate the JPA with ICANN.
The U.S. government has had and continues to play an important role in maintaining the security, stability, and openness of the Internet. Without the JPA providing an effective backstop to ICANN's original operating principles, there would be no mechanism in place to stop foreign governments from interfering with ICANN's operations.
In its filing, ITIF recommends that the Department of Commerce should continue to support the management of the Internet domain name system by the private sector, and develop a framework for the long-term viability of ICANN. ITIF concludes that until such a framework is available, the Department of Commerce must continue to maintain its historic role and relationship with ICANN.