Newsmaker Friday: Dem Chair Johnson On First 83 Days
Michigan Democrats have seen some contentious primaries in the past 20 years for major statewide office, but appear on their way to avoiding them in 2014 in one of the first major signs of how new Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson operates.
Hune Calls On LARA To Fine Tainted Steroid Producers
Sen. Joe Hune has called on the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to fine the New England Compounding Center that distributed tainted steroid shots known to be the cause of the fungal meningitis outbreak in many states, including Michigan.
DEQ: Shelby Township Officials Not Barred From Cleanup Meeting On Ford Site
Officials in Shelby Township are calling on the Department of Environmental Quality to provide full transparency of its meetings with Ford Motor Company regarding a contaminated plant site, shut down for years, after township officials were allegedly barred from those meetings.
Robertson MMA Legislation To Face Fighter Scrutiny Tuesday
Sen. Dave Robertson recently introduced a series of bills involving emergency care, liability and sentencing guidelines regarding boxing and mixed martial arts fighting, but some involved with the sport are displeased with the legislation and plan to visit various senators about it on Tuesday.
Digital Media Industry Eyed For Growth, Michigan Film Office Says
While the Michigan Film Office is generally known for awarding project money to the traditional film or television-type shows, it is trying to expand its palette beyond that scope and into other revenue-generating projects in digital media, too, recently granting three incentives between two in-state companies.
Schuette Calls For Special Prosecutor In IRS Scandal
Charging that the recent revelations of the U.S. Internal Revenue System examination of conservative groups seeking tax-free status is a "chilling example of a federal government bent on silencing opposition voices", Attorney General Bill Schuette on Friday called on President Barack Obama to create a special prosecutor to investigate the situation.
Supreme Court Order Ends Pending Case
An order issued by the Supreme Court Friday, acknowledging a stipulation signed by the parties to end the appeal before the court, dismisses the case Cherryland Electric Cooperative v. Blair Township (SC docket No. 145340). The case had dealt with how personal property taxes were assessed for electric cooperatives considering contributions for construction. It had gone before the Supreme Court for oral arguments on March 7.
Source : Gongwer News Service : Michigan Report, Volume #52, Report 98, May 17, 2013. Full access requires a subscription or a visit to a subscribing library such as the Michigan State University Main Library.
Food Safety and Inspection Service - Inspection and Enforcement Activities At Swine Slaughter Plants
Expert: 48-Month Cap Puts All Medicaid Funding At Risk
Skepticism continues to mount this week about the House Republicans' proposed 48-month limit on Medicaid coverage -- with one legal expert saying Michigan puts its entire federal funding for the program at risk if it's implemented.
As the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee considers legislation to expand a reformed Medicaid to residents at 133 percent of the federal poverty level, the proposed 48-month cap on coverage for non-disabled adults has been dominating much of the conversation.
This week, Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans (MAHP), provided the committee with a legal opinion from the Washington, D.C., firm Covington & Burling LLP.
In the opinion, Charles Miller, who specializes in health care litigation for the firm, wrote that the state would not be able to implement the 48-month limit "without risking the loss of its federal Medicaid funds."
Covington and Burling LLP believes that the federal government would find that the cap violates the Social Security Act.
For the full article, see "Expert: 48-Month Cap Puts All Medicaid Funding At Risk", Inside MIRS Today, May 17, 2013.
Other topics covered include:
• Expert: 48-Month Cap Puts All Medicaid Funding At Risk
• Audit Finds $189M Not Spent On Leaking Underground Storage Tanks
• MDP Chair Puts 8th Congressional In Play
• Right To Life Makes Move To Sidestep Gov.
• Diversity, Politicking Keys In Floor Leader Race
• Gay Marriage Support Fueling '16 Petition Drive Talk
• Surplus Hurts Road Revenue Pitch
• Author Of State's Fireworks Law Has Never Used Them
• Schuette Wants Special Prosecutor For IRS Scandal
• Rogers' U.S Senate Decision Expected By June
• ACA Means Pared-Down Women's Health Package
• SFA: April Surprise Fueled By 85% Boom In Income Tax
• Autonomous Car Bill Revving Up For Passage
• Michigan Retains 9th Highest Unemployment Rate
Full access to MIRSNews.com is available via the MSU Library electronic resources page. Access is restricted to the MSU community and other subscribers.
This paper offers an alternative vision for the future of U.S. counterterrorism policy in which use-of-force authorizations are a last, rather than first, resort.
Today, we’re happy to announce that we will be accepting Bitcoin donations through our website. You can use them to make one-time donations, set up monthly donations or get an EFF membership (which includes awesome membership swag like EFF hats and digital freedom t-shirts).
While we are accepting Bitcoin donations, EFF is not endorsing Bitcoin. EFF does not typically endorse products or services, and we certainly do not endorse any of the electronic payment methods that we currently accept (credit cards, PayPal, and now BitPay).
With respect to Bitcoin as a technology, there is clearly a lot more to be said. Currently it seems that Bitcoin, while innovative, has a number of limitations and weaknesses in its design, and might yet turn out to be just the first draft for future crypto-currencies.1 However, as an organization that supports cryptographic experimentation, we believe the best answer to Bitcoin's potential shortcomings is for others to come along and offer superior alternatives.
Along the way, we want to give our supporters as much flexibility as possible in making donations to EFF. You can click to make a donation to EFF by credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and, in the future, hopefully many other payment systems as well.
How We Got Here
Two years ago, EFF decided to stop taking Bitcoins for a number of reasons and returned the coins to the community via the Bitcoin faucet and promised to investigate further. Since then, we’ve been watching the public debate around Bitcoins, seeing the ecosystem develop around them, and conducting our own research on the possible legal issues.
Here were some of the factors we considered when making this decision:
Censorship by payment intermediaries is an ongoing problem for free speech online – so it makes sense to start diversifying the available options. EFF has long tried to identify and fortify the weakest links for speech online, and payment processors remain a significant problem. We’ve seen payment processors with policies that ban speech that would be strongly protected under the First Amendment, that arbitrarily enforce those policies, and that offer no process at all for reinstating closed accounts, much less the sort of due process that the government would have to engage in to shut down speech. We’ve seen payment providers cave to pressure from government officials to shut down accounts. We’ve seen payment intermediaries shut off accounts to censor First Amendment-protected online content. And we’ve seen legislators propose misguided censorship legislation that would have put payment providers in the position of actively shutting down the accounts of individuals accused of copyright infringement. Because of this, we’re generally interested in ways of diversifying the market around payment options, so that a handful of big market players won’t be able to exercise such a stranglehold over online speech.
You can now give Bitcoins to EFF in the same way that you can give stock. EFF has long had a policy that converts gifts of stock and items like cars into cash immediately on receipt. We try to convert your donations into action as soon as possible. Another factor in our decision to take Bitcoins is availability of services like BitPay, which accepts donations for EFF and automatically converts those into dollars which we receive and can immediately put to use. It is akin to the way Stripe processes credit card donations on eff.org, but also akin to the way you can donate a car to EFF.
This relieves EFF of the burden of managing the Bitcoin account. It also ensures that we’re never hanging on to a large quantity of Bitcoins, which was a problem two years ago—we had enough sitting in the account that we likely could have affected the market had we dumped it all at once. The BitPay service also means that our policy and processing are consistent across different types of donations. Most importantly, it allows us to focus on what we do—protect rights online—and ensures that we don’t have a financial stake in the outcome of a digital rights issue, such as whether a particular company does well or the value of Bitcoins grows or takes a dip.
Our research and FinCEN’s guidance removed a key risk to EFF. Both our internal research and the recent report by FinCEN2 have confirmed that, as a user of Bitcoin or any virtual currency, EFF itself is likely not subject to regulation. While some have raised concerns about the FinCEN ruling, and noted that it’s not binding, it did confirm our own analysis of risk to us as a user and reduced our concerns that by accepting Bitcoins EFF risked moving away from its role as a defender of innovators and into the role as a possible defendant.
Our members keep politely asking for it. Ultimately, EFF needs to make independent decisions to do what is technically and legally best for supporting liberty online. Sometimes that means taking on positions or defending views that are unpopular—including those that are unpopular with our members. But we're pleased to be able to provide our members with something they have asked for—repeatedly and passionately—when it’s possible for us.
We already accept lots of unusual forms of donations. Right now, you can donate a car to EFF (PDF), or airline miles, or proceeds from your book, or even stock from your company. We’re happy today to add one more way for digital rights enthusiasts to support our work.
EFF at Bitcoin 2013 Also, if you're planning on attending the Bitcoin 2013 conference in San Jose this weekened, please say hello. We (Rainey and Seth) will both be at the conference, and Rainey will be speaking about financial censorship on a panel on Saturday. Check the schedule on the website for details.
- 1. A full discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the Bitcoin design will have to wait for a future blog post, but we note here that Bitcoin is very often not anonymous in the ways users might believe or expect, because (for instance) the network doesn't actively conceal the IP addresses from which transactions were initiated; its expenditure of large amounts of computational resources may turn out to be unnecessary; and its monetary policy is controversial and arguably designed to incentivize adoption and holding of the currency, rather than maximizing valuable economic transactions. The fact that Bitcoin is subject to criticism should not be surprising; it would have been much more surprising if the first widely used cryptographic currency had been perfect, and very active research continues on ways of improving Bitcoin or creating new crypto-currencies with other properties.
- 2. Note that we are not endorsing FinCEN's guidance as a matter of law or policy.
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To steal a line from Rep. Virginia Foxx, the gentlewoman from North Carolina: This is our shocked face.
Far be it for us to complain about Congress making noise about press freedom and improper surveillance, but c'mon—it's about darned time someone other than Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Zoe Lofgren stood up for civil liberties. It's just too bad that something like the Department of Justice's subpoenas for Associated Press phone records has to happen first before our elected leaders take notice.
But, better late than never. Shock is reverberating through the halls of Congress, particularly in yesterday's Justice Department oversight hearing in the House Judicary Committee, where Attorney General Eric Holder denied knowledge of (and culpabality in) the AP leak investigation. Some of the outcry is policital, for sure, with Republicans jumping on the opportunity to pair AP subpoena revelations with news of the IRS targeting conservative groups and new information related to the Benghazi attack. We'll stow our cynicism for now and embrace the outrage where we find it, especially if it results in the passage of the newly introduced Telephone Records Protection Act.
So how much outrage is there? We used the Sunlight Foundation's handy tool, Scout, to search Congressional speeches to measure the snowballing fury at the DOJ among members of Congress. Here are some of the highlights.Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) in a floor speech titled "State Secrets vs. Freedom of the Press":
Mr. Speaker, when I went to the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Communist leaders told me that they believed in and had a free press and they also had free speech. However, I also learned that Soviet law prohibited these freedoms when they jeopardized state secrets--or national security, as we call it in America. The state-secret provision was so broad the Soviet press and speech were gagged and shackled. They certainly were not free.
Now we learn that our Department of Justice improperly seized without notice phone records of over 100 Associated Press journalists--all in the name of national security concerns.
To me, this is a clear violation of the spirit and letter of the First Amendment. These actions border on the Soviet method of legalizing these freedoms but never allowing them. So it's time to revisit U.S. law and require in all cases judicial review where these types of records are seized.
We cannot allow our government to arbitrarily abolish the First Amendment in the name of ``state secrets.''
And that's just the way it is.Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL):
Then the revelation on Monday that the Justice Department of the United States--think about that, the chief law enforcement agency of the country--had issued this blanket search of the phone records of I think the Nation's largest reporting group, the Associated Press. I understand if they were going after a leak that endangered America and security; that is one thing. We can have a debate about that. But they went much further than that. It was a blanket request of all of these phone calls, including the switchboard. Pretty outrageous.
...For example, you think about some of our most precious freedoms--the First Amendment right to free speech. Think about if you are a reporter at the Associated Press. Think about if you are a source--unrelated to national security--to the Associated Press. Think about if you are a whistleblower, someone who is blowing the whistle on government activity because you work in the government and you think what the government is doing is wrong. Think about that for a second.
Now, all of a sudden, what are you afraid of? I am not calling that reporter back because their phone might be tapped, my number might show up on their records, because the Justice Department has just shown they are willing to do that. Think about the chilling effect that sends up and down the government.
If there is wrongdoing somewhere in the government right now, people are probably afraid to blow the whistle because they are afraid they are being surveilled by the Justice Department or that the person they are talking to is being surveilled. That is how outrageous this is.Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC):
The administration's apologists are in a panic. They claim the President is not responsible for any of this wrongdoing. The President, who made a career touting government as the solution to most every problem, now solicits our understanding. It seems the leviathan is rather unwieldy and difficult to manage.
This is my shocked face.Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE):
[W]e are learning that the Department of Justice seized phone records of Associated Press reporters, including records of their personal phone lines. Now, the ability to wiretap and probe needs to be in place in narrow circumstances, but the wide-ranging nature of what happened raises a number of questions, questions that beg us to ask: How do we protect the freedom of the press?Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) in a floor speech titled "Freedom of the Press":
Mr. Speaker, it is the fashion amongst many of us to blame the press for our troubles, and that's, of course, because the press reports our troubles. At their best, the media keeps us honest, it keeps us in our constitutional lanes, and it reports our failures. It is essential for democracy. There is a reason why freedom of the press is not the Second or Fourth or 10th Amendment. It's the First Amendment.So, Mr. Speaker, I am profoundly concerned over the Department of Justice's overbroad and chilling behavior with respect to the Associated Press. Seeking records for 20 phone lines, giving the AP no notice, refusing at this point to discuss their behavior feels to me like overreach.Mr. Speaker, it's time for the Department of Justice to stand back. You can imagine that there is somebody out there today who has a failure to report who is chilled and says, I will not do that because of the approach that the Department of Justice has taken.Mr. Speaker, I am proud to serve in the very core of democracy, but this Chamber rests on foundations, and a key part of that foundation is a free and competent press.Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA):
Well, we once had a political party known as the Know-Nothings. We now have a President who wants us to believe that he knows nothing...He wants us to believe that he knows nothing about the Department of Justice subpoenaing 2 months of the Associated Press' phone records.
What has happened to the days in America when Democratic President Harry Truman proudly placed a placard on his desk that said: "The buck stops here''? Perhaps, sadly, we have returned to the days where the question to the President of the United States ought to be: What did you know and when did you know it?Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE):
Just yesterday we learned of another breach of public trust and another potential violation of our First Amendment freedom--the freedom of the press. Press reports indicate the Department of Justice secretly obtained extensive telephone records of reporters and editors for the Associated Press in what the head of the news organization called a ``massive and unprecedented intrusion'' into how news organizations gather the news. According to the Associated Press's legal counsel, the records obtained included those from reporters working out of the House of Representatives press gallery.
While it is unclear at this point how many reporters were targeted and why, the effect of this data gathering is clear: intimidation of the press and suppression of free speech.
This is unacceptable. A free and unfettered press is vital to any democracy. Moreover, the scope of this information gathering is simply beyond the pale--and likely beyond precedent.
Update: Rep. Hank Johnson asked us to include some of the remarks he prepared for the judiciary hearing.Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA):
I strongly believe that Congress must protect the free flow of information and ideas under the First Amendment. This is why I voted for the Free Flow of information Act, a federal shield law that would have required judicial oversight over media subpoenas. This vital legislation, which was blocked by Republicans in the Senate and opposed by some of the same Members of the Committee who are shocked by the AP investigation, would likely have avoided much of the alarm caused by this investigation.
Protecting the freedom of the press also requires that we strike a careful balance in preventing national security leaks where there is a very real threat to American lives. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I am acutely aware of the threats that face our Nation and the need for confidentiality when confronting these threats.
The public outcry in response to the AP investigation also illustrates the public’s alarm with the lack of privacy protections for our everyday communications. Every day, the phone records of countless Americans are subject to criminal investigations without a warrant based on probable cause. Investigators need only a subpoena to obtain the numbers you call and receive, as well as emails and text messages that are more than 180 days old. Warrantless surveillance brings us ever-closer to the surveillance state described by George Orwell where “every sound you made was overheard,—and, except in darkness, every moment scrutinized.”
This issue demonstrates the urgent necessity to modernize laws that have been outpaced by technology and the ease of collecting massive amounts information about Americans. We need to modernize the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 by requiring a warrant for surveillance involving communications, phone records, and movements. We need to update the Espionage Act of 1917 to limit prosecutions to cases involving real harms to our national security.Related Issues: Free Speech
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Governments from around the world gathered in Geneva over the past few days to debate a range of Internet governance and policy issues, including the meta question of the role of governments in Internet governance. Perhaps the biggest question going into the conference was whether the governments could deliberate and reach consensus after the divisive outcome of the WCIT. Tensions were high after the WCIT, but the WTPF revealed that governments are still able to come together and have a relatively direct exchange of views on challenging issues.
The tone of discussion was markedly different from the WCIT to the WTPF. Many governments were amenable to discussing topics that would have been entirely off the table at WCIT. For example, some of the most impassioned defense of the multistakeholder model came from the delegate from Iran, who, in his closing statement, cited the highly valuable contributions from RIPE NCC and the other Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) and pointed to the benefits of discussing these matters with expert stakeholders in the room. Many governments spoke favorably of multistakeholder processes. Of course, the proof of this broad embrace of participatory policy development and decision-making must be borne out at the national level, and governments having a long way to go. But it is still remarkable that so many governments are on record as acknowledging the benefits of the multistakeholder approach.
In terms of outcomes, the WTPF adopted six non-binding opinions on a range of topics that included the role of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in increasing connectivity in developing countries, the IPv6 transition, and supporting multistakeholderism in Internet governance. (The final report and opinions from the WTPF are available here.) These opinions had been developed through the Informal Experts Group (IEG) process, which brought together ITU Members and non-member experts to debate these topics in three meetings over the previous year. Member States adopted the six opinions forwarded by the IEG with minimal changes.
The opinions were dispensed with fairly quickly, leaving governments with almost two full days to debate the perennial issue of the role of governments in Internet governance. The debate was wide-ranging, with Russia clearly calling for a single intergovernmental body dispensing top-down international Internet policy, while many governments clearly resisted any move away from the current multistakeholder model.
Much of the debate centered around a proposal made by Brazil to introduce a new opinion on the “role of governments in the multistakeholder model”. The initial proposal, which was based on text that the IEG considered but could not reach consensus on, covered a broad sweep of topics and appeared to champion a significantly greater role for the ITU in Internet governance. In deliberations, Brazil clarified that it intended its proposal to highlight the need for capacity building among government stakeholders, and improved mechanisms for government engagement in Internet governance fora. While Brazil produced a revised draft on Day 3 that more closely tracked these expressed intentions, and while there was a general level of support for continuing discussions on this matter, it was clear that many governments and other stakeholders would have had extensive edits to the draft text and that there would not be sufficient time to develop a consensus draft.
Instead, they resolved to continue the conversation elsewhere, with many governments promoting the Internet Governance Forum, among others, as a prime place to take up the topic with the input of many different stakeholders. Some governments pushed back on the idea of using IGF as a discussion forum, because IGF does not produce official outcome documents.
Many took note of the Commission on Science and Technology Development (CSTD) Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation, a recently constituted effort to examine the progress on “enhanced cooperation” on Internet governance as outlined in the Tunis Agenda. (“Enhanced cooperation” has been a subject of debate since the drafting of the Tunis Agenda, with some governments arguing it requires the establishment of a new intergovernmental process to facilitate government cooperation on Internet governance issues, while others argue that enhanced cooperation is an ongoing process that does and should occur in every venue where Internet governance and policy is deliberated.) The CSTD working group has been developed with a view toward geographically balanced multistakeholder inclusion, with representatives from civil society, industry, and the technical/academic community each receiving five seats on the WG. The WG is still dominated by governments, both through the 22 government seats and the seats for international intergovernmental organizations.
The Chair of the session proposed moving the discussion to the ITU’s Council Working Group on international Internet-related public policy (CWG-Internet). Because the CWG-Internet is one of the most closed bodies of the ITU, permitting only Member States (and not even Sector Members) to participate, this proposal immediately raised concern. The United States and Sweden were among several governments who intervened to call for the CWG to be opened to all stakeholders to participate in this debate. (Indeed, Sweden proposed opening the CWG last year. Link unavailable due to ITU password restrictions on access to Council documents.) The forum closed with Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU, promising to urge the Council to open CWG-Internet to participation by all stakeholders. We hope the Council heeds the many voices calling for more openness and transparency in this venue.
Finally, a range of civil society members and organizations, including CDT, joined together in a final statement to the WTPF emphasizing the need for all future conversations on these important topics to include full and equal participation from all stakeholders. More information about the statement is available here.
At the close of the World Telecommunications Policy Forum (WTPF), Matthew Shears, director of CDT's Project on Global Internet Policy and Human Rights, delivered a statement on behalf of a coalition of civil society members and organizations from around the world. Hailing from six continents, these members of civil society participated in the WTPF both in person and remotely, bringing critically important perspectives as governments gathered to debate a range of Internet governance issues. (For more on the WTPF, see this post.)
The statement recognized the ITU for taking a small but important step in opening up the preparatory sessions of the Informal Expert Group (IEG) to non-member stakeholders. The six opinions that were forwarded to the WTPF from the IEG and adopted with minimal changes were the agreed product of multistakeholder discussions within the IEG.
The statement emphasizes the crucial need for discussions of the role of governments in Internet governance to occur with the equal participation of both government and non-government stakeholders. Human rights advocates, technical experts, academics, and industry all have deep insights into the operation and functioning of the Internet and into the implications of governance and policy decisions. Whatever role governments may have in Internet governance, it will have an impact on non-governmental stakeholders, and all of the interested parties must be involved in any process to define this scope.
It also notes that, while the ITU took some steps to make the WTPF process more open, many stakeholders, including civil society and governments, were left unsure as to exactly how they could maximize their involvement in these deliberations. Barriers to participation can take the form of resource and funding constraints, lack of clarity over opportunities to make official contributions to discussions, as well as procedural barriers that prevent some classes of stakeholders from engaging directly in decision-making. The ITU must continue to work to address these serious barriers.
Finally, the statement calls for any forum where this conversation – or any policy-development process – takes place to be open and transparent in its proceedings, and to actively promote full and equal participation by all stakeholders.
The statement is available here; the full text appears below.
16 May 2013
World Telecommunication Policy Forum
My name is Matthew Shears. I am an IEG member and I am speaking on behalf of my IEG colleagues:
- Nnenna Nwakanma
- Avri Doria
- Deborah Brown
- Wolfgang Kleinwachter
I am also speaking on behalf of the following civil society organisations and individuals:
- Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
- Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
- Center for Technology and Society (CTS/FGV), Brasil
- Consumers International
- Internet Democracy Project, India
- Global Partners and Associates
- William Drake, International Fellow and Lecturer, University of Zurich and NCUC Chair
Many civil society organisations are here in the room and participating remotely: They have traveled from Brazil, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, the USA, Germany, and the United Kingdom, and are listening in via the webcast from around the globe, including Côte d’Ivoire, South Africa, and Australia. Some of the organisations represented here are ECOSOC accredited and yet, as observers, unfortunately their representatives are unable to take the floor and address the distinguished delegates.
We would like to commend the ITU for steps taken to show more openness and inclusiveness in the WTPF process through the IEG. We would note that the multistakeholder nature of the IEG meetings and the willingness of all stakeholders to work together, were, we believe, instrumental in bringing about the credible texts that were forwarded to the WTPF.
At the same time, we do agree with many governments that the modalities of participation and contribution in the IEG and WTPF were not clear. Had these modalities been clearer we could have anticipated more participation from all stakeholders around the world and could have obviated some of the concerns expressed yesterday.
We have commented extensively on issues related to the participation of all stakeholder groups at the ITU and refer you to the statement from the Best Bits civil society coalition (to which there are almost 40 civil society signatories from all regions), and to our comments in Information Document 6. We ask that the ITU make the Best Bits statement, which was provided to the ITU on the first day of the meeting, available as an information document of the meeting.
As to the opinions themselves, we are satisfied with the six drafts that were forwarded from the IEG and just adopted. Although not perfect, these opinions are important texts that should help facilitate key development and governance goals. We look forward to working with other stakeholders in implementing these opinions going forward.
With regard to the role of stakeholders in the multistakeholder model, we value and appreciate the discussion that was held in the Forum yesterday and today.
We thought that the clarifying comments and amendments from Brazil to their earlier proposal were a commendable articulation of the opportunity and challenge that governments face: first, how to appropriately engage in the multistakeholder governance model and second, how to ensure that there are mechanisms to facilitate such engagement. We are very sympathetic because we in civil society face some of the same challenges. And we trust that civil society, and all other stakeholders, will be afforded the opportunity to continue to participate fully in these discussions, wherever they are held. Of course, we not only support the further engagement of governments on Internet governance within the multistakeholder framework – we support the further engagement of all stakeholders. Civil society face very significant resource challenges when participating in meetings such as this. Yet, we are here because we believe these meetings are important and, crucially, that participating as an equal stakeholder in these discussions is our responsibility.
To exercise these responsibilities we must have transparency, openness and inclusivity in policy processes. As such we call not only on the ITU but on all governments and organisations to ensure that their respective policy processes at the national, regional, and international levels are open, inclusive, transparent and that the mechanisms by which stakeholders can participate in a full and equal manner are well communicated. This would contribute significantly to furthering the engagement of all stakeholders, including governments, in the multistakeholder model.
We would note that just as governments need enhanced cooperation from organizations and other stakeholders engaged in Internet governance, non-governmental actors need similar enhanced cooperation from governments, the ITU and other intergovernmental organizations. Enhanced cooperation is a two way street.
Finally, we appreciate the leadership of the Chair for WG3 in guiding us through the discussion on how governments engage with the multistakeholder model. We need to have this discussion on a regular basis, not just for governments but for all stakeholders, and we need to use all available fora to do so. We are equal stakeholders in this process and while we may not always agree, it is our responsibility to find common ground and ways forward together.
Our thanks to the Secretary General, to the Chairs for their excellent work and to all distinguished participants.
“While we are accepting Bitcoin donations,” the post says, “EFF is not endorsing Bitcoin.” (emphasis in original)
They’ve been using dollars over there without anyone inferring that they endorse dollars. They’ve been using various payment systems with no hint of endorsement. And they use all kinds of protocols without disclaiming endorsement—because they don’t need to.
Someone at EFF really doesn’t like Bitcoin. But, oh, how wealthy EFF would be as an institution if they had held on to the Bitcoin they were originally given. I argued at the time it refused Bitcoin that it was making a mistake, not because of the effect on its bottom line, but because it showed timidity in the face of threats to liberty.
Well, just in time for the Bitcoin 2013 conference in San Jose (CA) this weekend, EFF is getting on board. That’s good news, but it’s not as good as the news would have been if EFF had been a stalwart on Bitcoin the entire time. I have high expectations of EFF because it’s one of the great organizations working in the area of digital liberties.
Today EFF joins organizations from the around the world representing a diversity of interests in launching a new coalition to ask for A Fair Deal on intellectual property (IP) in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The coalition has launched a website at www.OurFairDeal.org calling for TPP negotiators to “reject copyright proposals that restrict the open Internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights.” The TPP meetings are taking place in Lima, Peru this week until May 25th, and EFF has been on the ground working with groups to fight those provisions and demand a seat at the table at these secretive negotiations.
The TPP is a trade agreement being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States. The changes to copyright required by the TPP would reduce access to information and restrict the ability to innovate, both on and offline.
Susan Chalmers from InternetNZ announced the coalition yesterday:
“A fair deal on copyright in the TPP takes into account the interests of internet users, libraries and archives, those with disabilities, educators and business innovators as well as creators. We’re all part of the Internet economy. The Fair Deal coalition is promoting fair copyright standards for the TPP that reflect the needs of the broadest cross-section of society.”
Negotiators are hoping the meetings will “accelerate” the closed-door process. New reports indicate copyright provisions are a “challenging” issue for those behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
Between them, members of the Fair Deal coalition represent the interests of Internet users, schools, universities, artists, libraries and archives, the visually impaired, consumers, information technology firms, Internet businesses, and those who believe in the power of open source software and the open Internet as a driving force for innovation, development and socially responsible economic growth. Coalition members include industry groups, digital rights advocates, academics and human rights organizations.
The coalition hopes that TPP negotiators will consider adopting a new approach that:
- Promotes access to knowledge, innovation, and weightless economies,
- Respects fundamental rights like due process, privacy, and free speech, and
- Recognizes the realities and full opportunities of the Internet.
Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia.org says:
“Unrestricted access to the open internet is fundamental to participation in 21st century society. Trade agreements must not require termination of Internet access for infringement of copyright or encourage ISPs to police Internet use.”
Executive Officer for the Australian Digital Alliance, Ellen Broad, noted the need to make sure any copyright standards agreed to in the TPP could keep pace with digital change:
“Countries around the world are currently looking at their own copyright regimes and asking, ‘are these working in the digital age?’ And the answer has been no. The internet has changed so much about the way we create, disseminate and access content: it’s essential the TPP not lock in 20th century copyright standards, but focus on a healthy internet future - for both creators and consumers, distributors and innovators.”
“Copyright laws across all of the TPP countries are already strong enough” says Jeremy Malcolm, Senior Policy Officer of Consumers International. “Indeed in many of those countries, inflexible copyright rules have been identified as a straightjacket on creativity and innovation. Plans to extend copyright even further through the TPP are exactly the opposite approach to what consumers need.”
Claudio Ruiz, executive director of Chilean ONG Derechos Digitales, states “TPP is very bad news for the rights of citizen and consumers. Increased protection standards regarding copyright cause serious detriment to the access to knowledge and culture. A 'Fair Deal' should look better access for the public and not more onerous conditions to use new technologies around access to knowledge.”About the Fair Deal Coalition
Starting at first in New Zealand and then connecting with organizations and people internationally, a group of individuals from the fields of Internet policy, art, information technology and law got together to discuss a TPP campaign with a copyright focus. What resulted was the idea of a fair deal, one that opens up trade opportunities for TPP member states but doesn’t force copyright and other IP-related changes on us that could damage our future.
Founding members of the Fair Deal coalition include:
Affinity Bridge, Australian Digital Alliance, Australian Library & Information Association, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Internet NZ, BCFIPA, The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), Consumers International, Council of Canadians, Creative Freedom, Demand Progress, Derechos Digitales, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), Fight for the Future, Gen Why Media, Hiperderecho, Library & Information Society of New Zealand, NZRise, NZOSS, OpenMedia.org, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, Scoop, Tech Liberty NZ, TechDirt, Tuanz, TradeMe.
Related Issues: Intellectual PropertyInternationalTrans Pacific Partnership Agreement
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