Digital Policy Roundup

SIIA Event to Examine How Data is Transforming Healthcare and Policy Implications

Join SIIA for a discussion on how data analytics is transforming healthcare at our lunchtime event - Improving Our Nation’s Health Through Data Analytics. The briefing, at 12p.m. on November 13th, will feature lawmakers, industry leaders, patients and providers who will discuss innovations in data analytics that are improving our health care system. Participants will also discuss the challenges posed by the current regulatory framework, and the need to develop an appropriate risk-based framework that provides the clarity and certainty necessary to advance an innovative healthcare ecosystem. RSVP HERE

It is clear that our nation’s health is dependent on information. Applying digestible data analytics to healthcare delivered when and where it is needed, can help health professionals make informed treatment decisions at the point of care, accelerate the search for cures, and reduce preventable hospitalization and associated costs. Data innovations are also speeding treatments and cures to market. The event will include opening remarks from U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Gene Green (D-TX). For more information, click here.

Multi-Industry Letter Urges Congress to Protect Cross-Border Data Flows

Monday, in a letter to congressional leaders, SIIA joined with seven other tech organizations in calling for increased funding to allow the Department of Justice to adequately handle its responsibilities under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs). MLATs are the primary mechanism through which law enforcement agencies in different countries can collect and exchange evidence. These treaties ensure that foreign law enforcement requests for information conform to U.S. law helping to curb foreign efforts to enact restrictive laws governing the Internet.

Over the last decade foreign evidence requests have increased dramatically, while DOJ funding for processing such requests has declined. Currently, it takes about a year to process an MLAT request. This delay has caused foreign governments to circumvent the MLAT process altogether, taking their demands directly to U.S. businesses. Companies are now in the nearly impossible position of trying to comply with foreign law enforcement requests while adhering to U.S. law. The breakdown in the MLAT process also leads to countries around the world pursuing data localization requirements, which threaten to fragment the Internet. Increased MLAT funding would make possible quicker processing of MLAT requests while at the same time protecting individual’s rights and ensuring due process. For more information, read this blog.

SIIA Comments on Use of Data Analytics to Promote Social and Economic Opportunity

Friday, SIIA filed comments on the Federal Trade Commission’s Workshop on “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” The workshop was held on September 15 and usefully framed important developments in the use of data analytics for providing services to low income and underserved consumers and provided a forum for discussion of the possibility of unfair or discriminatory use of data analytics.

SIIA’s Mark MacCarthy participated on the workshop’s second panel relating to new developments in data analytics. SIIA’s comments summarize the discussion in that panel and contain additional reflections on issues raised by the workshop. For a highlight of the main points of the comments, click here.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

Digital Policy Roundup

Groundbreaking Study of U.S. Software Industry Shows Wide-Ranging Impact on GDP, Productivity, Exports and Jobs

At a lunch time event Wednesday – featuring an armchair discussion with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews – SIIA released the results of a comprehensivestudy of the economic impact of the U.S. software industry. The software industry has had a substantial, transformative impact on the American economy. Regarded as an enabling technology in use by virtually all sectors, software has become a critical driver of productivity, growth and employment. Disputing claims that automation hurts jobs, the SIIA analysis found that software contributes to job growth in three critical ways.

To produceThe U.S. Software Industry: An Engine for Economic Growth and Employment, SIIA worked with independent economic analysis firm Sonecon and its chairman and co-founder Robert Shapiro, former undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs under President Bill Clinton. The study represents a rigorous empirical analysis of the economic effects arising from the diffusion of software across U.S. businesses and households.

To read the executive summary, click here. To access a brief power point presentation of Shapiro’s findings, click here.

SIIA Applauds Passage of H.R. 5233, the Trade Secrets Protection Act

Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 5233, the “Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2014,” and voted to favorably report it to the House of Representatives. SIIA released a press statement in favor of the bill’s passage. . H.R. 5233 would establish a cause of action in federal court by an owner of a trade secret who is injured by the misappropriation of a trade secret that is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in the interstate or foreign commerce. During the markup, a few members questioned whether legislation was needed since almost all states provide protection for trade secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, but otherwise there was broad bipartisan support for the measure. At the conclusion of Wednesday’s markup Chairman Goodlatte noted that the bill will not be taken up in the House until sometime during the post-elections “lame duck” session. The bill and an amendment adopted during the markup will eventually be found here.

SIIA Participates in FTC Big Data Workshop

On Sept. 15, SIIA VP of Public Policy, Mark MacCarthy, participated in the Federal Trade Commission’s workshop: Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion? Speeches by FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and FTC Commissioner Julie Brill provided an overview of the key objectives of the FTC in this area. Particularly they are assessing current laws and potential gaps in the law that could allow “big data” or analytics to lead to discrimination or “digital redlining.” To that end, Commissioner Brill reiterated her challenge to “the data broker industry,” urging them to “take stronger, proactive steps right now to address the potential impact of their products that profile consumers by race, ethnicity or other sensitive classifications, or that are proxies for such sensitive classifications.” In particular she urged data providers to investigate how their clients are using data and stop doing business with those whose use is “inappropriate.” In addition to seeking to prevent discrimination, the FTC is encouraging industry to take affirmative steps to utilize data and technology to empower the underserved.

Data is increasingly a strategic, core component of SIIA members’ business models, and many of these companies are leaders in providing data analytics and data-driven innovation. Therefore, SIIA has been a strong proponent policies that data-driven innovation. Prior to the FTC workshop, SIIA hosted a workshop on Capitol Hill highlighting the uses of data and data analytics for empowerment and risk mitigation.

In conjunction with the workshop, the FTC is accepting additional comments. SIIA will work with members to submit comments on this important issue on behalf of members and the industry.

Outgoing European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes Delivers Swansong Speech at Georgetown University

Kroes spoke of her hope for a transatlantic digital single market. The Vice-President delivered a mostly positive upbeat talk, although she did mention the surveillance revelations. Kroes emphasized that for a transatlantic digital market to flourish, online transactions must be secure, and that networks and systems must be protected from attack. She supported the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The Commission official added that within the EU alone, a digital single market could be worth 4% of GDP, i.e. $1500 per EU citizen. She emphasized the importance of an open Internet. A recurring theme in her speech was that ICT was not a purely American invention. Kroes said: “25 years ago, a network first devised for the U.S. military, benefited from protocols developed by a British scientist working in Switzerland. Today, the Internet is now used by 3 billion people across the world, the platform for billions of dollars of trade.”


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

Digital Policy Roundup

SIIA Event to Examine Software’s Transformative Impact on the US Economy & Employment

Join SIIA for lunch and dialogue with business leaders on how software is transforming the U.S. economy, and reinventing the way businesses and consumers operate. The event, “The Software Century: Analyzing Economic Impact & Job Creation,” will take place on September 17 from 11:30am-1pm in Room HVC 215 of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Featuring an exclusive interview with Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews.RSVP HERE.

At the event SIIA will unveil its new report, “The U.S. Software Industry: An Engine for Economic Growth and Employment.” This SIIA report is a comprehensive review of the software industry’s economic impact, authored by former Undersecretary of Commerce for economic Affairs, Robert Shapiro. For more information, or to register, click here.

SIIA to Participate in in FTC Workshop on Big Data and Discrimination

The FTC recently made available the agenda and list of participants for its upcoming Workshop “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” which will take place on Monday, Sept. 15. Mark MacCarthy, SIIA’s Vice President for Public Policy, will be participating on the panel focused assessing what is on the horizon for big data, exploring both the benefits and potential harms for particular populations of consumers. The workshop will include a range of academics, consumer advocates, industry and technology experts, including SIIA member SAS on a panel covering the current landscape of big data analytics. The workshop is a follow-up to the Administration’s white paper released in April.

SIIA and Tech Industry Press Enactment of USA Freedom Act

On Monday, SIIA joined with a group of technology industry associations in sending a letter to U.S. Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging the Senate to act in a bipartisan fashion and swiftly pass the USA FREEDOM Act (S.2685). In sending the letter, SIIA highlighted the need for surveillance reform in the U.S. as an essential part of restoring the public trust and providing support for U.S. businesses internationally. The USA FREEDOM Act modifies legislation already passed by the House in May, and it balances critical U.S. national security objectives and individual privacy needs. At this time, Senate leadership has not indicated when the legislation will be considered. With very few days of the congressional session remaining this month, consideration of the legislation could slip to the lame duck session after the November elections.

New European Commissioners Likely to be Announced this Week

The President-Elect of the European Commission, former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claud Juncker, is expected to announce the portfolio allocation of the next European Commission sometime this week. The Commission is the executive branch of the European Union. Besides Italy’s Federica Mogherini, nominated to be the Commission High Representative for Foreign Affairs, we do not know who will take over the different Directorates General (akin to government departments) of the Commission. After the nominations are announced, the European Parliament has to give its consent, including for Juncker and Mogherini.

From an SIIA member standpoint, the Directorates General in charge of trade, justice and the internal market are the most significant because they control trade, intellectual property and privacy/data flow issues. Given that there will be a new Commission and a new Parliament, we can expect significant activity affecting SIIA member interests. Juncker’s “Political Guidelines for the Next European Commission” suggest that this will be the case. The Guidelines lay out ten priorities. Priority number two is called: “A Connected Digital Market.” Juncker plans to “swiftly” conclude negotiations on new European data protection rules. (Note: Interestingly the political declaration does not specify whether the rules will take the form of a Regulation or a Directive. The current draft of the new rules is a Regulation. Regulations become law in Member States without the Members having to change their laws for the Regulation to come into effect. Directives need to be “transposed” into Member State law through national legislation.) Juncker also plans on “modernizing copyright rules in the light of the digital revolution and changed consumer behavior.” Priority number six calls for: “A Reasonable and Balanced Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.” The Resident-Elect says he will “not sacrifice data protection standards “on the altar of free trade.”


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

Digital Policy Roundup

DOC Announces Creation of Chief Data Officer, Private Sector Advisory Council

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced that the Department of Commerce (DOC) is expanding its role as “America’s Data Agency” by hiring the first ever Chief Data Officer. The role of the new CDO will be to oversee improvements to data collection and dissemination, and to ensure that Commerce’s data programs are coordinated, comprehensive, and strategic. In coordination with the new CDO, the DOC will also soon create a data advisory council, comprised of private sector leaders, to advise the Department on how to best use and unleash more government data.

This announcement is a major step in the direction of meeting one of SIIA’s key policy priorities. As established in our 2013 paper on Data-Driven Innovation, , SIIA is a leading proponent of open data policies, to use public-private partnerships to provide access to critical public data, and to adopt enterprise architectures that enable sharing. Governments at all levels possess treasure troves of valuable data that have gone largely untapped for many years. More than ever before, citizens want access to government data, and they want it applied in innovative ways to which they are increasingly becoming accustomed.

Publication of European Commission “White Paper” on Copyright Delayed

The press report that a white paper on the future of copyright has been removed from the agenda of a meeting of European commissioners next week. The white paper, which is supposed to set out a roadmap for possible reform in the European Union, has elicited a great deal of interest among both pro-copyright and other stakeholders. Perhaps reflecting the current controversies surrounding copyright, Commissioner Barnier who is responsible for the Internal Market and Services, appears to have been outmaneuvered by the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Nellie Kroes.

Kroes delivered a widely discussed speech on July 2 called “Our single market is crying out for copyright reform.” Her speech has been widely viewed as an attempt to force the Commission’s hand to propose reforms that some observers would consider a weakening of copyright protections. Kroes, for instance, made it quite clear that she would favor a European Union-wide copyright exception for non-commercial text and data mining. And she noted that Japan has introduced a text and data mining exception that includes commercial use. There have been reports of leaked versions of the white paper which suggest that Barnier has taken a neutral approach to many of the issues that critics of copyright cite as ripe for reform. This is what observers believe prompted Kroes to deliver her July 2 speech calling for reform now.

As a practical matter, given that there will be a new Commission in October, copyright changes are not likely before 2015 at the earliest. Moreover, even if Kroes is considered the “winner” now in terms of stopping the white paper’s release, the white paper will likely still be the base document the next Commission uses to start considering possible copyright changes.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

Digital Policy Roundup

Data Analytics Event This Thursday

Join SIIA for lunch and exciting technology presentations on how big data is being employed to empower and protect citizens. The lunch workshop, “Big Data at Work for Citizens: Applying Data Analytics for Empowerment and Fraud Prevention,” will take place Thursday, July 17 from 12-1:30pm in Room G11 of the Dirksen Senate office building.RSVP HERE

Executive Director Marjory Blumenthal of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) will open the event with discussion of the Administration and PCAST reports on Big Data and Privacy released in May. In addition, the SIIA workshop will provide for Q&A and discussion about key policy considerations to maximize data-driven innovation. For more information, or to register, click here!

Patent Troll Demand Letter Bill Passes House Subcommittee

Last Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade passed the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act (TROL Act) by a vote of 13-6. The bill attempts to crack down on demand letters sent by patent trolls by giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to seek penalties when patent licensing demand letters make false or misleading statements. The bill has been widely criticized and even its sponsor, Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, has conceded that the bill needs to be further amended to address these concerns. The real question seems to be whether amendments can fix the bill or whether it is fatally flawed. Contentious provisions in the bill include provisions that would: (i) create an affirmative defense that applies if the sender can show that the statements made in the letter were made in good faith or that the sender usually sends letters that are not misleading; (ii) preempt state laws dealing with demand letters; (iii) compromise the FTC’s ability to get an injunction under Section 5 of the FTC Act, which allows it to police deceptive business practices.

Potential PTO Director Nominee Withdrawn

Back in late June rumors swirled that the Obama Administration had planned to name Phil Johnson, a pharmaceutical executive for Johnson & Johnson, as head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Given Johnson’s very public stance against patent troll litigation reform legislation, the potential appointment was met with significant criticism. In response, last week, the Administration apparently backtracked on the appointment and has withdrawn Johnson’s name from consideration. It is unclear who or when the Administration will name someone to head the PTO in lieu of Johnson.

European Parliament’s International Trade Committee (INTA) Chairman Pushes for Less Ambitious TTIP

Inside U.S. Trade reports that the new Chair, Bernd Lange (member of the Socialists & Democrats group) would like to conclude TTIP by the end of 2015, not the end of 2014 which was the original plan. He would like a more “classic” agreement focused on tariffs, some non-tariff barriers, and government procurement. Regulatory cooperation and Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) would be left out under this scenario. Lange’s comments illustrate how unpopular trade agreements are on the other side of the Atlantic, as well as in the United States. Regulatory cooperation is arguably the most important component of the TTIP given the ambition, often stated in both the United States and the European Union, for the TTIP to serve as a model for the rest of the world. The role of parliament is significant on trade. In 2012 the parliament rejected the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which the European Commission (the European Union’s executive branch) had invested significant political capital to conclude. As a result, the Commission has to take parliament’s views seriously.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

Digital Policy Roundup

SIIA Event to Explore Real-World Impact of Big Data & Policy Implications

Join SIIA for lunch and exciting technology presentations on how big data is being employed to empower and protect citizens. The lunch workshop, “Big Data at Work for Citizens: Applying Data Analytics for Empowerment and Fraud Prevention,” will take place on July 17 from 12-1:30pm in Room G11 of the Dirksen Senate office building. RSVP HERE.

Executive Director Marjory Blumenthal of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) will open the event with discussion of the Administration and PCAST reports on Big Data and Privacy released in May. In addition, the SIIA workshop will provide for Q&A and discussion about key policy considerations to maximize data-driven innovation. For more information, or to register, click here.

WIPO Considers Copyright Exceptions for Libraries and Archives

Discussion continued at the World Intellectual Property Organization during the 28th meeting of its Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related Rights on the need for exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. The US and EU opposed a new treaty, noting that countries had flexibility to craft their own national exceptions to allow libraries to fulfill their public mission, subject to internationally recognized constraints. Blocks of other countries urged the need for a treaty to overcome coordination difficulties. The US urgedwork on principles and objectives to guide national legislation and the EU did not object. SIIA weighed in with a statement supporting the US position and encouraging further productive discussion. The meeting adjourned without a resolution of the issue. They will be taken up again at the next meeting of the SCCR in December.

Garnering Considerable Attention, European Commission VP and Commissioner Kroes Delivers Speech on Copyright

On July 2 the outgoing Commissioner, Nellie Kroes, delivered a speech in Amsterdam entitled: “Our single market is crying out for copyright reform.” Kroes said she wanted to see reform “now,” which would include more possibilities to access content online cross-border, harmonized exceptions, and flexibility. She strongly suggested that she would favor a copyright exception covering text and data mining. She mentioned that in 2009 Japan adopted a copyright exception covering text and data mining, including for commercial use. Kroes also referred to the two Communications the Commission issued on July 1 to better enforce Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).

The first Communication is an Action Plan involving ten actions, many involving more stakeholder consultation. The Commission makes clear that it wants to act against commercial-scale IPR infringer, not individual “consumers” of infringing materials. Clearly influenced by voluntary stakeholder agreements in the United States, the Commission wants to pursue a “follow-the-money” approach to curb commercial-scale infringements. The second Communication lays out a Strategy for dealing with enforcement of IPRs in third countries. The Communication does not really announce anything new, although the Commission wants to conduct regular surveys to identify a list of “priority countries” for focused EU efforts, which is similar to the Special 301 process the U.S. government engages in every year.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

Digital Policy Roundup

SIIA Testifies at Joint Congressional Subcommittee Hearing on Student Privacy

SIIA’s Mark MacCarthy delivered testimony on the issue of student data privacy in a joint hearing Wednesday before subcommittees of the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Homeland Security. The hearing titled “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy” featured three witnesses in addition to SIIA: Fordham University’s Professor Joel R. Reidenberg, Idaho Department of Education CIO Joyce Popp, and Alliance for Excellent Education’s Digital Learning Director Thomas Murray. SIIA advised committee members that “no new federal legislation is necessary at this time,” citing a three part system of protection – federal law (FERPA, COPPA), contracts, and industry best practices.

Alice Corp v. CLS Bank Ruling

On June 19th, the Supreme Court decided the business method patent case of Alice Corp v. CLS Bank Corp, unanimously holding that implementing an abstract idea through a general purpose computer is Ineligible for patent protection under section 101 if the Patent Act. The case involved a method for reducing the risk that the parties to a transaction will not pay what they owe. The Court has long held that abstract ideas are not patentable subject matter. Writing for the Court, Justice Thomas said that “merely requiring generic computer implementation… fails to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.” The decision would seem to have limited applicability to software patents as the term “software” does not appear in the decision and Justice Thomas acknowledges in the decision that “many computer-implemented claims are formally addressed to patent-eligible subject matter.”

OECD Committee for Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) Meets June 16-20 in Paris

CDEP is of interest because its work on digital economy issues is influential. For instance, the OECD’s 2011 Internet Policymaking Principles (IPP) and the revised 2013 OECD Privacy Guidelines are documents that are often consulted in other fora and are considered generally helpful by industry, including SIIA. The CDEP also works on Internet governance, big data, measuring the digital economy, the relationship between technology and jobs, and intellectual property. The work on intellectual property is often considered more controversial, and SIIA works to make it balanced.

Last week’s meeting focused particularly on the 2016 OECD Ministerial which will be held in April or May of 2016 in Cancun, Mexico. The Ministerial is important to the head of the organization, Angel Gurria, who is Mexican and reportedly interested in seeking a third term as Secretary-General of the OECD. The CDEP is currently considering “Digital Innovation Transforming our Societies” as the title for the Ministerial. The OECD has ambitious plans for the Ministerial and hopes to attract ministers responsible for labor and education, as well as ministers responsible for the ICT sector. The OECD has five themes for the Ministerial:

  1. Fostering new sources of growth spurred by converging networks, services and data analytics.
  2. Analyzing the effects of the digital economy on growth, jobs and skills.
  3. Developing recommendations and building evidence for Internet policy and governance.
  4. Managing the digital risks and enabling trust for continued prosperity.
  5. Looking to the future.

SIIA will be engaged in advocacy with a view to influencing work documents and the 2016 Ministerial, especially in the areas of growth, jobs and skills: Internet governance; privacy; and data analytics.


David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

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