ITIF Senior Analyst Stephen Ezell testified before the International Trade Commission this Wednesday for an ITC Investigation examining the effects of India’s trade, investment, and industrial policies on the U.S. economy. Ezell’s testimony argued that India has recently begun to embrace of a range of innovation mercantilist policies including forced localization policies such as local content requirements (LCRs), compulsory licensing of foreign intellectual property, price preferences and subsidies for domestic manufacturers, market access restrictions, and barriers to foreign direct investment. Collectively, these policies constitute a coherent Indian industrial policy which seeks to bolster Indian economic and employment growth by distorting global trade and forcing investment and production to occur in India. India has erected these policies across a diverse range of sectors from information and communications technology (ICT) and life sciences to renewable energy, manufacturing, retail, and financial services. But while these policies appear to offer India short-term benefits, in the long run they will prove self-defeating, damaging not just India’s economy—including its producers and consumers—but also harming enterprises and workers in India’s trading partner countries, including the United States, and even the global innovation economy.
Testimony and Filings
Comments to the House Commerce Committee on Communications Act Rewrite
ITIF filed comments last week with the House Energy and Commerce Committee in response to explorations in updating the Communications Act being undertaken by committee Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden. ITIF commended these efforts to modernize a badly outdated law. We advocated for a light-touch federal framework that would not unduly burden innovation in our nation’s networks or the applications and services that use them. ITIF urged the committee to proceed with humility as to predicting changes in communications technology and markets – the dynamic competition in today’s communications counsels against ambitious intervention. At the same time, there is undoubtedly a continued role for the FCC. The Commission’s role should generally shift to one of policing markets, correcting anti-competitive or consumer-harming behavior. The government should also be empowered to encourage broadband adoption and build-out where appropriate.
Comments to the FTC on the Internet of Things
In these comments filed with the FTC, the Center for Data Innovation argues that there is an enormous potential for the devices that make up the Internet of Things to address many important real-world problems, including how we manage health care, use energy, and protect the environment. Many of these technologies, and their respective benefits, are already being realized, but policy makers have the potential to make or break the Internet of Things. Most importantly, the full potential of the Internet of Things will not be realized unless policy makers embrace a flexible and modern regulatory regime that fosters data-driven innovation. Specifically, policymakers should work to lead by example in the adoption of new technologies, reduce barriers to data sharing, give consumers access to their data, avoid inundating consumers with notices, and regulate the use, rather than the collection, of data.
Economic Evidence on Competition in Communications Markets and Implications for Key Policy Issues
As new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler begins his tenure, Robert Atkinson and a group of leading economists file comments on the proper role for government in managing telecommunications. This includes policies focused on maximizing innovation and consumer welfare to ensure that American businesses and citizens have access to the highest quality broadband and telecommunications technologies available.
ITIF Comments on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Internet Economy
ITIF recommends that policymakers preserve statutory damages for large-scale infringement, allow the private sector to freely negotiate online licensing, and support multi-stakeholder dialogue on further cooperation for DMCA takedown requests.
Hearing on Funding the Nation’s Freight System
In a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation, Rob Atkinson argued that the U.S. freight transportation system faces major challenges and new policies are required to enhance investment and improve existing infrastructure. These include targeting investments in areas that can improve truck freight movement; creating better funding models for these investments; and ensuring that trucking pays for the full costs they impose on the system.
ITIF Amicus Brief in the matter of Joffe v. Google
In an amicus brief filed with the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, ITIF urged the Court to reconsider the decision in Joffe v. Google because the Court’s ruling needlessly treats modern digital wireless communications in a manner that is fundamentally different than the treatment of old-world analog wireless communications. This deviation from technology neutrality puts standard practices used by the information technology (“IT”) industry at legal risk. Most notably, the ruling calls into legal question practices used by IT security professionals every day to secure wireless networks. As a result, the Court’s decision will make it harder for IT security professionals to their jobs, thus rendering wireless networks more susceptible to intrusion. This cannot be what Congress intended.
Second, the Court’s holding that an unencrypted Wi-Fi communication is not readily accessible to the general public, assuming it is not a radio communication, rests on faulty factual assumptions. The Court justified its conclusion on two grounds.
The Court’s first basis for its holding is that an unencrypted Wi-Fi communication is not “readily” available because Wi-Fi networks typically have a limited geographic scope. But Wi-Fi networks do not have clear geographic bounds, and regularly reach into public areas that are, in fact, “readily” available to the general public. Indeed, the very communications at issue in this case were accessed from public streets.
The Court’s second basis for its holding is that an unencrypted Wi-Fi communication is “encoded” and sent to a “specific destination”—and that as a result “sophisticated hardware and software” is needed to receive and decode the communication from another computer. But encoding—as distinct from encryption—does nothing to render a communication inaccessible. In fact, the Wi-Fi specifications note that data passed over unencrypted wireless connections are “unprotected.” Similarly, the fact that the encoding includes a destination address does nothing to render the communication inaccessible to another computer on the wireless network. Moreover, the hardware and software used for packet sniffing are no more sophisticated than the hardware and software used for all Wi-Fi communications. And, in fact, the televisions, set-top boxes and digital video recorders that the general public readily uses to access television broadcasts—which the Court held are not radio communications—are similarly sophisticated, and the broadcasts are also encoded, yet no one would dispute that unscrambled, unencrypted television broadcasts are readily accessible to the general public.
In short, neither of the Court’s factual bases for its holding that an unencrypted Wi-Fi communication is not readily accessible to the general public is correct. ITIF urges the Court to grant rehearing or rehearing en banc.
Declaration Supporting Incentives for Medical Innovation
ITIF joined with a host of national and regional non-profits to call for the development of stronger incentives and intellectual property protections to enhance global medical innovation. ITIF served as a lead signor of the Declaration, along with the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. It was delivered to President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders of both parties.
Center for Data Innovation Response To Medicare Data RFC
In August, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a request for public comment on the potential release of physician-level Medicare claims data. ITIF’s Center for Data Innovation submitted comments urging CMS to release this data in a timely and complete manner in open, machine-readable formats. The comments highlighted applications for the data in the public, private and research sectors and suggested supplementary activities to maximize the value of the data for these stakeholders.