Congress Needs to Give Green Light to Health IT Innovation

Healthcare systems around the world are being challenged by aging populations, chronic illness and revolutionary—but expensive—treatments.  Appropriate solutions are often not available to patients in need, while medical providers, academics and innovators often work  independently or in small groups, with unconnected health datasets that provide incomplete pictures of the health statuses and health care practices of Americans.

While information technology (IT) products hold the promise of dramatically changing this situation and improving health care for those in need, current public policy is standing in the way.  It’s time for Congress to change that.

Applying new information technology (IT) products and services, particularly data analytics, to healthcare, delivered when and where it is needed in a digestible manner, can help medical professionals access evidenced based medicine to deliver better treatments and accelerate the search for timely cures. Some of the potential outcomes include: faster treatments coming to market, aligned health care incentives—lowering  costs for patients and providers (eliminating needless procedures), and a more  efficient, patient-centered healthcare systems that enable a more comprehensive view of patient care across a variety of conditions and procedures.

Unfortunately, America’s broad regulatory approach is harming the development and application of a wide range of software supporting this evolution, threatening to delay or prevent the implementation of revolutionary healthcare solutions. There is significant confusion in the market about what technologies may be regulated, by which agencies, and to what standards. This uncertainty is standing in the way of myriad promising technologies that can help clinicians access more evidence-based medicine, provide patient populations with more individualized care, and generate better patient-caregiver-provider engagement.

This week, SIIA joined with dozens of technology providers, health organizations and trade associations urging Congress to pass legislation to provide much-needed statutory clarity and a stable foundation for continued innovation in health IT.  Now is the time for Congress to give the green light to foster the necessary innovation to improve our Nation’s healthcare system and reducing costs. There is broad consensus on the need for a risk-based framework for health IT.


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 @SIIAPubPolicy.

SIIA Software Industry Study- Software Increases Economic Growth and Creates Jobs

At a hill event last month SIIA released a new study The U.S. Software Industry: An Engine for Economic Growth and Employment. The study revealed that software is a $425 billion industry that directly employs 2.5 million U.S. workers and supports millions of other jobs by driving American productivity.

This finding is counterintuitive to the dominant narrative which dictates that software kills jobs. The software industry, on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, often prompts fears of human inadequacy and futility. The news is rife with speculative stories about a near future where robots will rule, much like the Will Smith’s 2004 movie I, Robot.

At SIIA we work with the software industry every day.  We knew that this assessment was wrong based on the experience of our member companies.  But we wanted an independent look at the situation, using publicly available data and methodologies that could be duplicated by any researcher. At our request, economist Robert J. Shapiro former Undersecretary of Commerce during the Clinton administration, embarked upon an independent analysis of the economic growth, trade and employment impacts of the software industry in the United States.  What Shapiro found is that the software industry has been, and continues to be, a key contributor to economic, export and employment growth in the United States.

Based on this study, SIIA VP of Public Policy Mark MacCarthy weighed in on the debate in a Hill op-ed “Time to kill the tech job-killing myth.” MacCarthy wrote,

“But widespread, long-term technological unemployment simply hasn’t materialized. Instead, technology-driven increases in productivity are leading to the creation of less-expensive goods and services, and the resulting demand is increasing employment throughout the U.S. economy.  Technology and job creation have gone hand-in-hand – with productivity and employment rising together over the decades.”

The software industry study demonstrates that fears of software eating jobs are just wrong. On balance, the industry creates jobs. A few of the key findings were this:

  • From 1997 to 2012, U.S. software industry production increased from $149 billion to $425 billion, increasing its direct share of U.S. GDP from 1.7 to 2.6 percent.
  • The industry accounted for 12.1 percent of all U.S. labor productivity gains from 1995 to 2004, and 15.4 percent from 2004 to 2012.
  • Software plays a central role in job creation – generating jobs on its own, while also creating jobs through purchasing from other industries and by enabling business expansion that leads to job growth.
  • Software industry direct employment grew from 0.9 percent of American workers in 1990 to 2.2 percent today, and currently employs 2.5 million workers, up from 778,000 in 1990.
  • Every 10 software jobs supports five more jobs in other industries. This 1.5 multiplier is well ahead of other industries, such as education (1.12), retail (1.14) and health care (1.18).

Software, a core enabling technology used in virtually every sector of the economy, is a key contributor to increasing productivity and investment, job creation, exports and economic growth. To learn more about the software industry’s impact on the economy take a look at this detailed executive summary of the SIIA software industry study.


Sabrina Eyob is the Public Policy Coordinator at SIIA. Follow the Policy team on Twitter @SIIAPolicy.

Intellectual Property Roundup

Google Removes News Snippets From German Search Results (Computerworld)
In a move to minimize legal risks, Google has stopped showing news snippets and thumbnails for some well-known German news sites in search results.

Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? (Slate)
Hasbro’s recent crackdown on the dissemination and use of its Scrabble word lists raises an intriguing legal question: Can a list of words be copyrighted?

Warner Bros. Anti-Piracy Methods Revealed in Court Docs (Slash Gear)
Unsealed court documents have revealed how Warner Bros. goes about finding infringing content and issuing takedown notices.

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Superman Heirs’ Copyright Case (Ars Technica)
The Supreme Court declined to hear the petition filed by Superman heirs’ lawyers. That leaves standing a ruling form the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and the heirs won’t be allowed to wrest the copyright away.

Keith Kupferschmid


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Data Analytics in Education Promotes Social and Economic Opportunity

The recent FTC workshop “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” posed important questions on whether and how analytics could be used to restrict life chances for people rather than create economic and social opportunity.  The answer lies in the hands of the user of the technology, not in the technology itself.  The critical question is how people use, implement or otherwise act on the discoveries – the indicators, insights and evidence – that data analytics can uncover or reveal.

As with all knowledge, the value of the insights made possible by research and science depend in large part on the purposes they are used to advance and the environment in which they are deployed.  Data analytics in education is a good example.

A study by Johns Hopkins University research professor Robert Balfanz shows that most students who eventually drop out can be identified as early as the sixth grade by their attendance, behavior and course performance. Using those indicators, it is possible to identify by the middle of ninth grade virtually everyone who will drop out. As Professor Balfanz put it recently, “These young men are waving their hands early and often to say they need help, but our educational and student-support systems aren’t organized to recognize and respond to their distress signals.”

What should be done with this knowledge?  While one could worry that some might take an exclusionary path to perhaps stop wasting resources on students who are predicted to fail, the popular consensus created by recent educational innovators, such as Joel Klein, CEO of Amplify and former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, is to use these potential drop-out indicator as discoveries to develop a path of inclusion to take corrective actions early for these students, thereby promoting social and economic opportunity in education:

“Using data to help identify these students and give them meaningful supports and interventions as early as possible would have a significant impact on the number of students that graduate ready for success in either college or career. This isn’t the stuff of science fiction. These are actionable steps we can take right now, thanks to the power of technology.”

Which path is chosen is a matter for educators, not a matter of data analytics.  It would be disheartening, to say the least, if policymakers, fearful of data analytics used as a possible tool of exclusion, were to, in essence, call for educators to put their heads in the sand – not to see, and worse, not to use for good, the indicators that data analytics discovers.  Would anyone really argue that schools around the country would be better off not knowing the determinants of student failure, since it is possible that such knowledge might be used to discriminate against at-risk students?

In fact, many schools throughout the country are raising their heads, and hands, to apply data analytics to help their students succeed.

  • Research shows that attendance, behavior and course performance can assess dropout risk in a way that allows schools to design early intervention systems to support students. Miami Carol City Senior High in Florida designed an intervention system based on this kind of data. In 2013, one-third of students flagged for missing school got back on track to graduation. Two-thirds of the students who were having behavioral problems made a turnaround.
  • In Hamilton County Board of Education in Tennessee, early student interventions led to increased graduation rates by more than 8 percentage points and standardized test scores in math and reading by more than 10 percent thanks to applying predictive analytics.
  • In Mobile County, Alabama the dropout rate has been nudged downward by three percent since the application of data analytics on a broad range of factors including demographic variable to identify at risk students.

As J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, the 14th largest school district in the U.S., put it, “data analytics can help us both identify the child and create a better picture of who they are, what areas they’re deficient in, and point to things we can do differently. As we perfect our use of analytics, I think we can even get to the point where it’ll suggest, this student is weak in fractions; here are some activities that can help improve that.”

These examples and countless more show that educators are putting discoveries from data analytics to use for the good of all students, using indicators not to exclude students but rather to develop personalized courses of study for each one to succeed.


Mark MacCarthy, Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology.

Intellectual Property Roundup

Adobe to Shut China R&D as Sour Business Climate Bites (Reuters)
Computer software maker Adobe Systems Inc. will shut its Chinese research and development arm, as U.S. technology firms face an increasingly hostile government in the world’s second-biggest economy.

Google Fires Back at News Corp; Defends Search, Piracy Practices (Reuters)
Google defended itself against News Corp’s statement calling Google a platform for piracy and an “unaccountable bureaucracy.”

Judge Rules Against Grooveshark in Copyright Infringement Case (The New York Times)
A federal judge in New York ruled that Grooveshark, an online music service long vilified by the major record companies, infringed on thousands of their copyrights by hosting music files without permission and making millions of songs available for streaming.

Pirate Bay Goes to College: Free Textbook Torrent Downloads Soar Amid Rising Costs (International Business Times)
American college students struggling to afford textbooks are sharing copies of their books illegally on TextbookNova, the Pirate Bay and some of the same torrent sites that crippled the music industry. Many of the most popular books are available for free, with a correlation between the number of downloaders and the price of the book.

Parody Copyright Laws in UK Set to Come Into Effect (BBC)
Changes to UK legislation are to come into force this week allowing the parody of copyrighted works, as long as it is fair and does not compete with the original version.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Intellectual Property Roundup

Online Piracy Thrives in Internet Cloud (MSN)
A recent study says online piracy of music, films and other content has moved to the Internet cloud, reaping big profits for digital thieves.

New Bill Would Protect the Market for Used High-Tech Goods (The Los Angeles Times)
U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold has introduced a bill named “You Own Devices Act,” a bill that aims to restore the first-sale rights for software-powered devices.

Anti-Piracy Police Begin Targeting Ebook Pirates (Torrent Freak)
PIPCU, the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit, has taken down their first ebook-related domain, OnRead.

Court Says SiriusXM Must Pay Turtles For Pre-1972 Recordings (GigaOM)
A federal judge in Los Angeles sided with sixties band The Turtles in a closely watched copyright case that has big economic implications for SiriusXM and other digital radio providers like Pandora.

Head of U.S. Copyright Office Will Tell Lawmakers Office is Understaffed (Roll Call)
The U.S. Copyright Office is understaffed and could face additional strains in the future, according to testimony by the head of the U.S. Copyright Office.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

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.

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