Issues relating to the digital economy.

The Clock Is Ticking on ITFA

December 3, 2014
| Blogs & Op-eds

The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA) has been essential in promoting the expansion of e-commerce and Congress needs to act soon to ensure a level playing field continues for Internet businesses.

How Governments Can Leverage the Internet to Improve Services for Citizens

December 3, 2014
| Presentations

Daniel Castro spoke on a panel at the seventh China U.S. Internet Industry Forum in Washington D.C. to discuss how governments can leverage the Internet to improve services for citizens.

A Global Internet Needs Organizing Principles

November 17, 2014
| Blogs & Op-eds

What is therefore needed is a set of global Internet principles that recognizes that nations will have different and often discordant domestic Internet policies, but encourages them to do so without "breaking the Web." In other words, we need a framework that gives nations the freedom to set their own policies, while also enabling the continued growth of the Internet globally.

The Economic Cost of the European Union's Cookie Notification Policy

November 6, 2014
| Reports

In 2009, the European Union sought to regulate HTTP cookies—small text files are sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while the user is browsing that website—as part of their “e-Privacy” Directive, forcing all European websites to not only post their cookie policies, but also to seek the consent of each visiting user for the use of those cookies. This report finds that the total annual cost of this law is $2.3 billion dollars per year. This figure includes both compliance costs for European website operators and productivity costs. Given these costs and the law’s limited demonstrated benefits, European policymakers should abolish this largely symbolic “feel good” law for the sake of the European digital economy.

This report explores how not only is the EU privacy directive’s cookie policy costly, it also offers little to no benefits for EU citizens. In fact, by raising costs for website operators, it reduces the revenue available to develop quality online content and services for consumers. By requiring websites to notify users of all HTTP cookies, the policy may discourage many uncontroversial uses of cookies such as personalization which improve users’ online experiences. This policy also ignores that even when cookies are used to deliver targeted advertising, this largely benefits consumers with better ads and website owners with higher revenue they can use to provide higher quality consumer experiences. Additionally, users have filed few complaints about how websites are using cookies. The UK’s ICO received only 38 complaints regarding cookies between April and June of 2014, comparable to 9,000 complaints for automated sales calls during the same period. Answer ing this trifling number of complaints is not worth the law’s financial burden given the fact that the ICO also has noted that the majority of cookie complaints are “vexatious, personal, and time wasting.”

Several European Union and member state policymakers have begun looking at the cost-benefit analysis of this law a few years after its original implementation. As the European Union and its member states begin to revisit the e-Privacy directive, they should recognize that continuing to implement this cookie law is costly both to economic productivity and individual European websites. Furthermore, if the ICO’s experience is any sign of this law’s public mandate, it is unwanted in Europe as well. The European Union should act expeditiously to rollback this burdensome directive for the good of its digital economy and the ease of web surfing of its citizens.

Balancing Privacy, Innovation and Economic Growth

The Right To Be Forgotten

November 5, 2014
Alan McQuinn debates the pros and cons of the Right to be Forgotten around the world.

The Right to be Forgotten—the ability for individuals to request that search engines remove links from queries associated with their names if those results are irrelevant, inappropriate, or outdated—may be spreading to Asia. Watch Alan McQuinn debate the pros and cons of the Right to be Forgotten around the world.

New York is Moving in the Right Direction on BitLicenses

November 5, 2014
| Blogs & Op-eds

Since the comment period ended on October 21, 2014, NYSDFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky has signaled that NYSDFS may adopt several of the recommendations outlined in our comments. We applaud Superintendent Lawsky and NYSDFS for their efforts to listen to stakeholders and adjust their proposal accordingly. As NYSDFS sifts through its bounty of rich suggestions, ITIF will continue to monitor the proceedings and add constructive input when possible.

Is U.S. Tech Policy Ready For A Zombie Apocalypse?

October 29, 2014
| Blogs & Op-eds

Current digital policies don't adequately cover dead people, much less zombies. As we approach Halloween, here are five digital policies that need updating.

Taxes on Information Technologies Threatening Economic Growth, Report Says

New York Times
Raising taxes and tariffs on one of the most important technologies to drive productivity and innovation is self-defeating, says Robert Atkinson.

Raising taxes and tariffs on one of the most important technologies to drive productivity and innovation is self-defeating, says Robert Atkinson.

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