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3 Public Policies Tech Lobbyists Are Tracking

Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016


What it’s about: Section 603 of the bill requires social media companies to report facts and circumstances connected to any “terrorist activity.” 

Argument: The Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro (above) wrote in a letter to the Senate that it could lead to over-reporting a large number of communications and activities, burdening the intel community while raising First Amendment issues that could subject companies to “crippling” liability in civil lawsuits.

Status: Being considered in the Senate. 

Innovation Act (H.R. 9)


What it's about: Changes the rules and regs around patent infringement lawsuits so that there are fewer of them. 

Argument: The Information Technology Industry Council supports the legislation because it includes provisions that discourages patent trolls from doing what they do best—claim that they had an idea first when really they didn't. ITIC CEO Dean Garfield (above) wrote a letter to the House urging for more language in the bill to require plaintiffs to identify each claim of each patent that is allegedly infringed. He also doesn’t want any changes to the process for challenging the validity of issued patents that should have never been granted. 

Status: Being considered in the House.

Sharing Economy Regs


What it's about: The Federal Trade Commission asked for comments on the competition and consumer protection issues related to the sharing economy—businesses like Airbnb and RelayRides allow people to share personal items like cars, homes and pets with complete strangers for a fee. 

Argument: The Internet Association CEO Michael Beckerman (above) sent a letter last week to the Federal Trade Commission offering guidance on potential sharing economy regulations. The organization asked the commission to: consider the benefits to consumers of sharing economy services; weigh those benefits against any perceived harms; consider whether complaints against the sharing economy are actual consumer protection concerns or threats to a company’s bottom line; and consider that sharing economy platforms already self-regulate through consumer ratings, payment systems and GPS tracking. 

Status: The FTC closed its comments Aug. 4 and will announce its next steps.