This time around, i2c members teamed up to meet with congressional staffers to talk about three main issues: surveillance, privacy, and patent trolls.
Everyone involved acknowledged that the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden provoked outrage and an unprecedented demand for surveillance reform as a major objective, and all three branches of the government are involved to some degree. At the moment, Congress is waiting to see what the Obama administration does on the issue before persuing the major reforms it has proposed, such as the USA Freedom Act. We should see more motion there in a month or so, when the President should take some action on implemeinting the recomendations of the report on surveilance released in December.
Outdated and vague laws threaten our privacy and freedom, but the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA, 1986) is due to be updated with a draft that is pending in the Senate. The issue is that the SEC (and other agencies) is trying to wrangle themselves an exemption to the requirement of a criminal warrant to be able to request user data from third-party providers. In other words, the government doesn't want to have to put up with that pesky Constitutional hassle before getting your data from your ISP or hosting provider.
The i2Coalition is made up of companies who vehemently reject this kind of warrantless and unconstitutional intrusion. Warrants are there to ensure that the Fourth amendment to the Constitution is upheld. We are determined to do everything we can to protect our users from warrantless snooping, and we cannot understate the importance of what is at stake: This showdown may well shape the century to come.
Another reason for our visit to DC is patent reform. Patent reform is needed to defend innovative companies like Gandi from frivolous patent suits. That's not to say patents are intrinsically bad (though the argument can be made; we tip our hats to software freedom fighters), just that they are being abused in the most egregious manner by companies that produce nothing, contribute nothing, and dampen innovation with their meritless suits and shoddy legal practices. The good news is that it looks like we might actually get this Congress to pass some kind of patent reform. (
While most of Congress demonstrates an utterly depressing lack of cluefulness when it comes to the internet, it's reassuring to see that there are at least a few members of Congress who grok it to some extent. We recognized two public figures with Internet Innovation Awards: Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Thanks in part to them, we are moving forward in our mission to protect our customers' data, privacy and freedom.