Digital Policy Roundup

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DOC Discussions on Copyright Policy in the Digital Economy

The Department of Commerce (DOC) Internet Policy Task Force (Task Force) recently announced that it will hold a series of multistakeholder discussions around key issues of copyright policy in the digital economy. The panels and discussions will be a follow-up to the Task Force’s 2013 Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy that identified several key copyright topics worthy of more discussion. The first meeting, scheduled for March 20, will focus on what, if anything, needs to be changed about the current “notice and takedown” rules under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – this topic is also expected to be the subject of a House Judiciary hearing next week.

DOC follow-up meetings on additional topics are expected to be held by the Task Force every six weeks, covering issues such as the relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment, issues around large-scale online infringement, how the government can facilitate the further development of a robust online licensing environment and the legal framework for the creation of remixes. The Task Force’s goal is to produce “an agreed outcome by the end of 2014,” which could mean recommendations for change in the law, or to leave it alone.

Administration Launches Privacy Workshop for “Big Data” Study

On Monday, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) formally announced that it will be hosting a series of public events to hear from technologists, business leaders, civil society, and the academic community to advance the “Big Data” study called for by President Obama in January. The first event is a public workshop organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), entitled “Big Data Privacy: Advancing the State of the Art in Technology and Practice,” held on March 3. This event will be followed by workshops at New York University on March 17, and Cal. Berkley. The President’s report on Privacy and Big Data is expected on April 17.

SIIA White Paper on Geographical Market Segmentation

Late last week SIIA released a white paper detailing the uses and benefits of geographical market segmentation and geolocation tools. Market segmentation – a strategy that divides a broad target market into subsets of customers with different characteristics – is a ubiquitous global business practice, which takes a variety of forms: geographical, behavioral, demographic, and psychographic. Market segmentation in general and geographical market segmentation in particular provide consumers with many advantages, including access to otherwise unavailable goods and services at a fair price.

The use of geolocation technology combined with a policy of conditioning access based on location – commonly referred to as ‘geoblocking’ – is the means thorough which different geographical markets for digital products are segmented. Some policy makers seem to think that this technique is intrinsically suspect and should be stringently restricted. Attempts to ban or restrict geolocation tools might be aimed at geographical market segmentation for digital goods, but they would make it impossible for websites and others to use this common technique for a variety of socially valuable purposes. For more info take a look at this blog.

Busy Week for Student Data Privacy, including SIIA and USDoED Best Practices

SIIA this week announced “Industry Best Practices to Safeguard Student Information Privacy and Data Security and Advance the Effective Use of Technology in Education.” These best practices build on a strong framework of existing laws and practices, which were further clarified today when the U.S. Department of Education Issued guidance, “Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices.” The Department of Education with Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) will be hosting a webinar on March 13 to review the guidance and solicit input.

SIIA commended the guidance for affirming the vital role of technology in education, clarifying the effective safeguards in current law, and providing an important roadmap for continued safeguarding. These best practices come at a time when many states are considering related legislative restrictions, some of which raise concerns of unintended restricting the important use of technology and student information to improve learning. Many of these issues were discussed yesterday at Common Sense Media’s school privacy Summit in Washington, DC, attended by SIIA and featuring Secretary Duncan, U.S. Senator Markey (MA), FTC Commissioner Brill and SIIA members McGraw-Hill Education and Amplify. The Summit followed a recent radio talk show discussion between SIIA’s Mark Schneiderman and CSM’s CEO Jim Steyer.

David 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.