Democracy & Technology Blog Notable

Simple in theory, tricky in practice
You want to save the world; you have a clear and simple idea. If it weren’t for the details! Ah, the pitfalls of regulation. From the Wall Street Journal,

Seeking to be a leader in protecting online privacy, the European Union last year passed a law requiring companies to obtain consent from Web users when tracking files such as cookies are placed on users’ computers. Enactment awaits action by member countries.
Now, Internet companies, advertisers, lawmakers, privacy advocates and EU member nations can’t agree on the law’s meaning. Is it sufficient if users agree to cookies when setting up Web browsers? Is an industry-backed plan acceptable that would let users see–and opt out of–data collected about them? Must placing cookies on a machine depend on the user checking a box each time?

Bold actions and frightening consequences
Analyist Anna Maria Kovacs says House Republicans have made it clear they would be particularly offended if the Federal Communications Commission moves to impose network neutrality regulation this year, before House Republicans assume the majority. The consequences for the FCC, Kovacs suggests, could be severe.

Alienating the Republican leadership could create some pain for the FCC. Budget requests could receive much tougher scrutiny and some degree of budget cut becomes a possibility. Considerable staff and commissioner time could be spent on oversight, responding to questions from Congress and testifying at hearings. A bill to abolish or radically reform the FCC could not be enacted, but the process of fighting it could be time-consuming and unpleasant …. Getting commissioner nominations through the Senate might become impossible … This potentially could leave the FCC with only four commissioners at the end of 2011, when Commissioner Copps [D] has to leave unless he is reappointed. That would leave a Commission that is most likely to deadlock two-two on controversial issues which would make it far more difficult for Chairman Genachowski to implement the [National Broadband] Plan.

Hance Haney

Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project
Hance Haney served as Director and Senior Fellow of the Technology & Democracy Project at the Discovery Institute, in Washington, D.C. Haney spent ten years as an aide to former Senator Bob Packwood (OR), and advised him in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee during the deliberations leading to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He subsequently held various positions with the United States Telecom Association and Qwest Communications. He earned a B.A. in history from Willamette University and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.