News Center

Combating Rogue Websites

The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing today on rogue websites called “Targeting Websites Dedicated To Stealing American Intellectual Property.” Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) invited Verizon, Go Daddy, Visa, Rosetta Stone and The Authors Guild and others in the online community to appear to give their views about legislation he is preparing to reintroduce in the Senate this year. Kudos to the companies listed above for showing up.

As you might already know, bi-partisan legislation to combat rogue websites was introduced last Congress. S. 3804 would have provided the U.S. Department of Justice with additional tools to go after the worst rogue Internet websites dedicated to distributing counterfeit goods and/or facilitating copyright theft.  We believe this legislation is a critically important step to help address a problem that adversely impacts so many industries. Last Congress, rogue sites legislation was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) received unanimous bipartisan support and passed out of committee with a 19-0 vote.

Support for rogue sites legislations continues to broaden. Yesterday, a coalition of over 130 businesses, professional, trade, and labor organizations— representing over 1.5 million jobs and workers—sent a letter to Congress urging for the enactment of the bill. The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy recently launched the effort “Fight Online Theft” to further the campaign against rogue websites. Be sure to check out for latest information on this important legislation and how to take action against rogue websites.

The general consensus at the hearing was that something must be done to protect American jobs and our economy and safety against these illegal rogue websites. We agree! We are encouraging the Members of Congress to introduce a similar bill this new session. Take action HERE.

DiFi takes on the Pirates

The Internet is being flooded with pirates that put Californians’ intellectual property at risk.  I don’t have to tell you, but the entertainment industry itself employs hundreds of thousands in California, and it’s not just in LA.  Emeryville hosts the creative geniuses behind Toy Story 3 at the Pixar Animation Studio and George Lucas spent an estimated $350 million for his digital arts studio in the Presidio.  Not to mention the up-and-coming studios and production facilities that are in the City employing multitudes of producers, editors and actors.

So what, beyond Pirates of the Caribbean 4, do pirates have to do with California’s entertainment industry?  Plenty.  As you read this, pirated copies of new movies will have virtually flooded the Internet.  For example, Cisco predicts that by 2014 it will take more than two years to watch the video that will cross the global IP network every second. Of this mind-boggling amount of video, a large part of it is unauthorized video content stolen from California studios. In fact, the Motion Picture Industry of America estimates that it loses over $25 billion a year to piracy.

What does this mean for California?  In its most simplistic terms, it means lost opportunity for jobs and investment.  The studios are faced with a tough recession, and, the popular wisdom that the industry is recession proof is being challenged in light of studio consolidations and release numbers.  If the industry is bleeding billions of dollars to pirates, that’s money it could be otherwise investing in movie-making, and, consequentially job-making.  The Internet marketplace has provided opportunity like we could never have imagined for the entertainment industry and innovators across the state but it also has created an opportunity for very costly mischief.  As a state, and as a nation, we need to arm the federal government with the tools it needs to take on those who seek to unfairly and unlawfully profit from the labors of California’s best and brightest.

Senator Patrick Leahey recently sponsored a bill, S.3804, the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” that was co-sponsored by our own Senator Dianne Feinstein that will do just that.  It gives the feds an expedited means to take on rogue websites whose business model it is to facilitate the digital theft of copyrighted works.  Last week, a large, and diverse cross-section, of the Internet marketplace wrote a letter to Senator Leahey supporting swift passage of S.3804, including Sony Music Entertainment, Disney, NBC Universal, and Major League Baseball (Go Giants!).   CALinnovates would like to echo their support on behalf of our membership of California innovators and specifically to thank Senator Feinstein for her support of California innovation against the very real, and not very cute, threat of piracy.

California Hold ’em

What does this mean for California?  A lot, and far beyond the rooftop solar panels you see popping up in your neighborhoods.   The defeat of Prop 23 sent a strong message that Californians want California to lead in cleantech. The tallies on election night not only meant that there is a mandate for renewable energy, but also, that there is both an appetite for and support of increased cleantech innovation.

Cleantech creates opportunity, not only to do something environmentally responsible, but also to create jobs. At a time when our state unemployment rate hovers around a frightening 12%, the tech sector continues to grow (as much as 62% growth in Silicon Valley this year). Cleantech innovation is happening all over California: it’s happening at Cisco, where tele-presence innovation will revolutionize environmentally responsible telecommuting. It’s happening in the Mojave Desert where NRG and BrightSource are building the largest solar field to date. Innovation is not just happening at big companies: California start-ups are the backbone of this industry. Cool Lumens is manufacturing LED skylights that dramatically lower electricity consumption in large commercial spaces like warehouse stores and ChloriFill is making fiberboard out of agricultural waste.

California is the innovation engine of the world and Californian’s believe that technology will lead the way to recovery from this crippling recession.  The smart money agrees as forty percent of all cleantech venture dollars land in California and cleantech is the #1 focus of the VC community according to Pepperdine’s business school. The resounding defeat of Prop 23 sent yet another strong message that voters want to continue this tradition of leadership in innovation.

Los Angeles has been at the forefront of the California clean tech revolution. The Environmental Defense Fund credits LA with hosting the most cleantech companies in the State, including, thanks to City leadership, the forthcoming BYD North American HQ. The EPA lists LA as having the most Energy Star-rated buildings in the country. LADWP, in partnership with IBEW Local 18, leads the state and country in the transition to renewable energy and it is accomplishing that feat almost entirely with existing infrastructure.  It’s no wonder that on election night nearly 70% of LA County voters stood up-against Texas and for California innovation.

Strong and Wide Support for Chairman Genachowski’s Open Internet Framework

“President Obama is strongly committed to net neutrality in order to keep an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, consumer choice, and free speech.  The announced action by FCC Chairman Genachowski, building on the work of Chairman Waxman’s collaborative effort to craft legislation in this area, advances this important policy priority.”

— Aneesh Chopra, CTO, White House, December 1, 2010
“The Communications Workers of America supports Chairman Genachowski’s initiative to sustain open Internet principles and create the stable conditions necessary for critical investment and quality job creation in broadband networks.”

— Larry Cohen, President, CWA, December 1, 2010
“We commend Chairman Genachowski for recognizing that the time to act is now. The Internet is and should remain a medium that is open to innovation, not one where big network operators get to pick winners and losers.  This rulemaking is about preserving the characteristics that have made the Internet such an overwhelming success.”

— Leslie Harris, President, Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), December 1, 2010. CDT is a non-profit public interest organization working to keep the Internet open, innovative, and free

“Maintaining an Open Internet is critical to our economy’s growth and Chairman Genachowski and his team deserve kudos for their thoughtful leadership. This effort is a pragmatic balance of innovation, economic growth and crucial investment in the Internet. We look forward to working with FCC to protect these principles so the Internet grows and thrives for generations to come.”

— John Doerr, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is a venture capital firm that has backed entrepreneurs in over 500 ventures, including AOL, Amazon, Citrix, Compaq, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Google, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Netscape, Sun, Symantec, Verisign and Zynga.

“As the founder of Craigslist and a passionate believer in the economic and social benefits of an open and free Internet, I proudly endorse the Chairman’s historic efforts to protect these important principles in our society. Common-sense rules of the road will help ensure certainty in markets while also preserving the openness and freedom of the Internet that has helped generate millions of jobs and share billions of ideas around the world.

— Craig Newmark, Founder, Craigslist, December 1, 2010.

“I am proud to join a diverse coalition in support of the Chairman’s proposed rules of the road. This light-touch, common-sense framework will help protect investment and innovation throughout the ecosystem and will ensure certainty in markets for years to come.”

— Ron Conway, Founder, SV Angel, December 1, 2010.  SV Angel is a Silicon Valley technology angel venture fund.

“We applaud the work of the Chairman Genachowski and FCC on this draft Open Internet framework.  Chairman Genachowski has offered a quality framework that hits the right balance between encouraging investments, fostering innovation and protecting consumers in a manner that is both transparent and enforceable.”

— Rey Ramsey, President and CEO of TechNet.  TechNet is the national, bipartisan network of more than four hundred CEOs. Its members represent more than one million employees in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, e-commerce and finance.

“Today ADE commends the FCC for embracing this spirit, rejecting partisan bickering and choosing mainstream compromise over extreme action in the debate over net neutrality. Today’s announcement shows that thoughtful debate on policy can lead to solutions that uphold our commitment to preserving the open Internet while maintaining a focus on the priorities of the American people:  restoration of our economy and a solution to creating jobs.”

— Shirley Franklin, Senior Advisor, Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE), December 1, 2010.  The Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) is a non-profit consumer advocacy organization that serves to facilitate and ensure equal access to technology in underserved communities.

“We believe that today’s net neutrality proposal from the FCC represents an important step forward.  It’s vital for net neutrality regulations to promote new investments by network operators to increase broadband speeds, while also ensuring that consumers easily can access content and services from both start-up and established companies with the necessary quality of service and at the highest speeds available.”

— Statement by Fred Humphries, Microsoft, December 1, 2010.

“We applaud Chairman Genachowski for his leadership in moving forward with a balanced approach in the face of the heightened polemics on this issue…[t]he FCC’s policy position represents a fair middle ground that will provide regulatory certainty to an issue that has been lacking it since the Comcast decision last spring.”

— Dean Garfield, CEO, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), December 1, 2010.  ITI is an advocacy group representing global leaders in innovation–from all areas of the ICT sector including hardware, services, and software.

“We … urge you to bring the Open Internet rulemaking to conclusion …the Commission can provide the certainty necessary for policymakers, consumers, investors, and innovators that the Internet will remain an open network, under the watchful eye of the Federal Communications Commission, and that the service will be delivered and managed with full and complete transparency.  Combined, that will make it possible for the agency, advocates, engineers, and the media to police practices that could threaten innovation at the edge of the network. … We understand that there are some who would have you go further and some that would have you do nothing.  But we believe you are headed toward a principled center and we support that effort.”

— Senators John F. Kerry, Byron Dorgan and Ron Wyden, November 30, 2010.

“As an early-stage investor with deep ties to the technology community, I applaud Chairman Genachowski’s proposed framework to protect a free and open Internet. Nothing is more important to America’s economic future than the protection of a free and open Internet, and I am confident that Chairman Genachowski’s proposed framework will achieve just that.”

— Ram Shiram, Founder, Sherpalo Ventures, December 1, 2010. Sherpalo is a venture capital firm that supports the development and commercialization of technology companies.

“If you believe in the need to protect the open Internet, this is the realistic way forward, and it could lay the groundwork for other steps if necessary in the future.”
— Kevin Werbach, Professor, Wharton School of The University Of Pennsylvania, December 1, 2010.

“We commend the Federal Communications Commission for tentatively putting open Internet rules on the agenda for the Dec. 21 Commission meeting and for, we expect, circulating a draft order.  As Comcast’s recent actions have shown, such rules are urgently needed.”

— Gigi B. Sohn, President and Co-founder Public Knowledge, December 1, 2010

“We are pleased that the FCC appears to be embracing a compromise solution that is sensitive to the dynamics of investment in a difficult economy and appears to avoid over-regulation. … Such an approach would reduce regulatory uncertainty, and should encourage investment and innovation in next generation broadband services and technologies.  In that regard, we remain committed to working with the FCC to bring the benefits of broadband to all Americans.”

— Jim Cicconi, AT&T, December 1, 2010.

“As a technology venture capitalist representing hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, I strongly support your proposed rules to protect an open and free Internet….your proposal will help incubate growth for decades to come and should be adopted without further delay.”

— Jed Katz, Managing Director, Javelin Venture Partners, December 1, 2010.  Javelin Venture Partners is an early stage venture capital firm specializing in technology based start-ups.

“DISH Network applauds Chairman Genachowski for moving forward on critically important net neutrality rules.  His proposal is a solid framework for protecting the open Internet”.
— Charles Ergen, Chairman, President and CEO, Dish Network, December 1, 2010.

“Today’s announcement by the FCC represents a prudent and balanced approach to managing the growing volume of traffic on the Internet.  IBM will continue to work with others in the IT industry as this process moves forward to support fair and reasonable rules that will encourage continued investment in smarter systems in the United States.”

— Christopher Padilla, Vice President, Government Programs, IBM, December 1, 2010.

“FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski deserves a lot of credit for proceeding so thoughtfully and choosing a commonsense compromise in the face of hyper-partisan brinksmanship.”

— David Sutphen, Co-Chair, Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), December 1, 2010. The Internet Innovation Alliance is coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American has access to broadband Internet.
“Today’s proposal seems to be the most effective option for reducing regulatory uncertainty in the broadband marketplace, enabling more widespread investment and deployment that will ultimately benefit consumers and our economy.”

— Bruce Mehlman, Co-Chair Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), December 1, 2010. The Internet Innovation Alliance is coalition of business and non-profit organizations that aim to ensure every American has access to broadband Internet.

We understand and are pleased that the proposed rules have moved away from broad Title II regulation and toward a more tailored approach that recognizes the unique nature of wireless services. … We believe significant input from a bipartisan majority of Congress and others, and the willingness of the Chairman to seek a workable solution, have contributed toward making the proposed rules less onerous. … [W]e appreciate the Chairman’s attempt to find a way forward on this issue that recognizes the need to create certainty in the market and facilitate investment.”

— Steve Largent, President and CEO, CTIA-The Wireless Association, December 1, 2010
“We applaud Chairman Genachowski for supporting a measured, forward-looking policy framework that recognizes the dynamic nature of the telecom ecosystem and the importance of continued investment, job creation and innovation in the vibrant communications sector. We appreciate Chairman Genachowski’s leadership, commitment and support for continued growth and opportunity for consumers, technology innovators and workers, and investors in the communications sector and throughout the U.S. economy.”

— Jonathan Spalter, Chairman, Mobile Future Coalition, December 1, 2010.  The Mobile Future Coalition is coalition of businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals advocating for an environment in which innovations in wireless technology and services are enabled.

“We believe that it is a fair resolution of this set of issues and that it is proposed in a way that achieves our essential and shared objectives:  preserving the openness of the Internet and the incentives to invest and innovate for the benefit of consumers.  And I want to thank and applaud Chairman Genachowski, his Chief of Staff, Eddie Lazarus, and their staff for listening, for their hard work on incredibly complex business and technology issues, and for their leadership in seeking a fair resolution of a difficult and controversial set of policy goals.”

— NCTA President & CEO Kyle McSlarrow, President and CEO, NCTA, December 1, 2010.  NCTA is the principal trade association for the U.S. cable industry, representing cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation’s cable television households.

“We are happy to see that the Chairman appears to have…[struck] a balance between supporting growth in the tech sector and consumer protection. On behalf of our membership of hundreds of California innovators, we are happy to support the Chairman.”

— Erin Lehane, Executive Director, CALinnovates, December 1, 2010.  CALinnovates represents 150 technology companies and is focused on championing the conversation about the future of California’s critical technology sector.

CALinnovates Applauds FCC Approach Towards Middle Ground on Net Neutrality

For Immediate Release:
December 1, 2010

Erin Lehane
(415) 494-8626 x102

San Francisco, CA — CALinnovates, a California technology coalition, announced its support of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s new approach towards the divisive issue of net neutrality.

“The issue of net neutrality had turned into an argument of extremes, this made our membership very nervous. Any regulation of the Internet is ‘make it or break it’ and during these tough economic times, we needed any proposed regulation to definitely not break it” stated Erin Lehane, Executive Director of CALinnovates.

“Innovation requires an environment that is supportive and not restrictive in order to grow as it has” said Lehane. “Extremist reactionary politics are not good for this growth-not in California nor around the country. We are happy to see that the Chairman appears to have chosen the high road, which also happens to be the middle of the road, and strike a balance between supporting growth in the tech sector and consumer protection. On behalf of our membership of hundreds of California innovators, we are happy to support the Chairman and his now proven ability to move past the extreme politics which have dogged this issue.”

For more information on CALinnovates please go to;!/CALinnovates and

CALinnovates is a statewide coalition focused on championing the conversation about the future of California’s critical technology sector. CALinnovates brings together industry experts, thought leaders, tech innovators, policy makers and consumers in a nonpartisan mission to promote innovation, create new jobs, spur investment and support tech-friendly policies.

Download this Press Release as a PDF

Previous Press Releases

How You Phone Is How You Think: iPhone Users More Apt to Believe In GOP Takeover of Congress, Be Influenced by Tea Party, New Poll Find

For immediate Release:
October 3, 2010

Erin LeHane
(415) 494-8626 x102 

iPhone Users Are Influenced by Tea Party Endorsements Two Times as Much as Android or Blackberry Users

San Francisco, CA – CALinnovates, a California technology coalition, released a poll today at the annual CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) convention in San Francisco about what voters’ mobile phones indicate about their political opinions.

“It’s fascinating research because our mobile phones are increasingly our portal to life, whether its politics, news, our job or even our friends and family,” said Tom Galvin, Zogby/463 pollster.  “We’re seeing a sea change as we go into the mid-term elections but what we learned in this survey is that voters are choosing their mobile technology in ways that predict behavior or opinions.”

The new national Zogby/463 online survey found the following:

  • Nearly 60 percent (58.9%) of iPhone users are more likely to predict a Republican majority in Congress in this year’s mid-term elections, while nearly 44.8 percent of Blackberry and 46.5 percent of Android users are more likely to predict a Republican majority.
  • iPhone users are two times more likely to be influenced by the Tea Party than those voters who carry a Android or Blackberry phone.
  • 1 in 5 iPhone users are influenced by the Tea Party.
  • iPhone users were twice as likely to say that Sarah Palin speaks for them than Android and Blackberry users.
  • Around 10 percent of likely voters evenly across mobile platforms say that Glenn Beck speaks for them.

Innovation was found to be important to voters and a strong majority support maintaining the Internet without additional regulation. Specifically, the poll found:

  • iPhone users are twice as likely to believe that innovation incentives are a better option to stimulate the economy than funding public works projects.
  • All likely voters are three times more likely to support a hands off approach to the Internet and supportive of not adding regulations. Of those voters, nearly 70 percent of iPhone and Android users and 50 percent of Blackberry users support keeping the Internet free of additional regulation.

In addition, other findings include:

  • Nearly 70 percent of Blackberry users feel confident about the country’s future over the next decade and nearly 90 percent of Blackberry users feel confident about their personal future.
  • Less than 50 percent of iPhone users feel confident about the country’s future over the next decade while 78 percent of iPhone users feel confident about their personal future.
  • Likely voters who do not own a mobile phone report the lowest levels of confidence of any group tested with less than 30 percent have any confidence of the future of the country over the next decade and 55 percent have confidence in their own personal future.

“The results tell us a lot about mobile phone users and political trends,” said Erin Lehane, CALinnovates Executive Director.  “Now the next time you are on a plane waiting to take-off, you can just look at your neighbor sitting next to you tweeting on his iPhone and know that he is more likely to be adding applications to track where the nearest Tea Party rally is than your neighbor to the left of you typing away on his Blackberry.”

The poll, a national Zogby online surveyed 2,077 likely voters with a margin of error of 2.2%. It was conducted October 1 through October 4, 2010.

For more information on CALinnovates please go to;!/CALinnovates and

CALinnovates is a statewide coalition focused on championing the conversation about the future of California’s critical technology sector. CALinnovates brings together industry experts, thought leaders, tech innovators, policy makers and consumers in a nonpartisan mission to promote innovation, create new jobs, spur investment and support tech-friendly policies.

Download this Press Release as a PDF



Previous Press Releases

Some Title II with your morning coffee

There’s no question that the tech companies in California are the leaders in innovation – almost all of the great technologies that touch your daily life began in California, and before you have your morning coffee, you probably interact with a dozen of them.  That’s why it’s so disconcerting that here’s a controversy playing out far from the sunny shores of the Golden State that could threaten California’s leadership in innovation.  The threat stems from the FCC and the debate over “Net Neutrailty” – a philosophy in the tech world that means information on the internet should be treated equally.  But like most things in politics, it’s more complicated than it sounds:

As part of its attempt to shape the concept of net neutrality, the FCC has begun proceedings to redefine a small piece of law written over a decade ago.  Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications act (great grandson of the 1934 Communications act which created the FCC) enforces specific regulations against telecommunications carriers but not against carriers providing information services – this is what the FCC wants to change – they want the authority to regulate information services.

In technical terms, Title II is basically the argument about how to regulate data and bits (data rides on the bits) – either together or separately. Today, data and bits are treated the same under decades of FCC regulation – the idea being that not regulating transmission will spur investment and innovation. The new FCC believes there is a difference though between data and bits.  They would like to separate the two, and turn any information provider into a common carrier.  For example – under Title II, Apple would have to contribute 15% of their iTunes income into the Universal Service Fund.

Now for the easier way to understand Title II:  Think about it in terms of your local pizza place.  When you order a pizza, you pay one price for the pizza and the delivery.  That’s how the internet works – when you buy a song on iTunes, you pay not only for the song, but for the delivery of that song to your computer.  When the internet was first debated by the federal government nearly 40 years ago, they decided that to spur investment and innovation in the tech sector they should not regulate the transmission of data – the delivery of an iTunes song to your computer.  That’s the crux of the Title II issue:  the FCC wants the power to regulate not just the pizza, but also the delivery of that pizza.

If something touches the internet today it’s generally unregulated, meaning there are few if any government regulations driving costs or governing innovation.  If Title II is changed, the FCC will have the power to determine what it regulates.  The result could be increased costs for technology companies, passed on to consumers and taken out of our economy in the form of lost jobs and investment in innovation.

CALinnovates is dedicated to supporting innovation and technology throughout California.  We are concerned that the adoption of the proposed changes to Title II will undermine the very innovation that the FCC should be protecting.  Two years ago eBooks were unheard of, today Amazon sells more digital books than paper books – this same scenario is playing out across the tech sector – there’s no problem with the internet and innovation, so why is the FCC trying to fix it?  We’re not convinced they should be.

Just a few years ago California communities were bombarded with advertisements from dozens of VOIP telephone companies springing up across the country with the promise of cheap hassle-free telephone and conference calls – then the FCC regulated them – and all but a few disappeared.  The FCC’s solution in search of a problem put companies out of business and Californians out of jobs.

The slippery slope doesn’t just end with our economy – tinkering with Title II could lead to problems with data transmission as large companies and start-ups alike try to cut costs; we could face several presidential election cycles of policy gridlock resulting in a chilling effect in angel and venture capital; innovation in the cloud, which today has seen unprecedented growth, could slow, or worse, stop.

Consider Netflix for a moment.  Just today they announced that more than 60% of their users are streaming movies.  Without even realizing it, Netflix customers now expect the company to provide data storage, fiber optic transmission capabilities and signal quality all for $8.99 a month – but if the FCC subjected Netflix to the common carrier requirements of Title II those low monthly fees would be history.

Even Google has entered the fray.  Yesterday they fired off a policy missive to the Federal Trade Commission saying that new regulatory proposals could undermine the functioning of a healthy marketplace and stall the pace of change.

The current framework governing the tech industry has worked well for 40 years. For most of that time the California tech industry has felt almost immune to actions in D.C. – but we can’t afford to keep our heads in the Cloud any longer.  CALinnovates is concerned about Title II and it’s potential impact – and we want to hear from you.  Through blogs and emails, phone calls and status updates, we want to hear your thoughts and opinions on Title II.

As a tech community, we should be concerned about the federal government tinkering with the laws that could impact our industry.  We should require them to use the same scrutiny and diligence to change laws that we use before releasing a product or investing in an idea.  In order to stay on the forefront of the global marketplace and make certain that California stays competitive, we need to continue to find ways to work with policy makers to foster growth, innovation, and economic activity in order for us to continue to be the tech global leader.

CALinnovates is a statewide coalition focused on championing the conversation about the future of California’s critical technology sector. With over 150 member companies, CALinnovates brings together industry experts, thought leaders, tech innovators, policy makers and consumers in a non-partisan mission to promote innovation, create new jobs, spur investment and support tech-friendly policies.

E-Sig E-Rased, Now E-Cceptable

Businesses use them to make contracts, ship mail, even sell your house:  Digital signatures are becoming more commonly used in e-commerce because they facilitate business across the state, nation, and globe.  But earlier this month, a CA Superior Court judge axed the use of e-signatures for ballot measures. Silicon Valley’s Verafirma attempted the high-tech feat, collecting signatures using iPhones. Secretary of State Debra Bowen sided with the court, saying the state’s election code doesn’t allow use of e-signatures in initiative drives.  She also shared her handwriting capabilities: “I think my scrawl on the checkout stand in the grocery store bears no resemblance to the signature on pen and paper.” We think this might be a case of legacy regulations losing relevance – in light of digital signatures used by credit card companies and mail services, perhaps it’s time to start saving some green in the ground and in the wallet and revise the laws keeping us in the age of Walley and the Beavs.

The concept itself is by no means new; telegraphed signatures date as far back as the Civil War, and we’ve been faxing signatures since the 80’s.  So we ask – why pause progress?  Especially in the state that’s home to dozens of electronic signature service companies.

But this month brought hope.  Despite her recent efforts, it doesn’t look like Bowen has the authority to derail the proverbial tech-train.  Eight Santa Clara county residents have registered to vote by signing their names on mobile touchscreens. County Registrar Jesse Durazo gets the credit for making history as the first American election official to allow that kind of voter registration, which can be done on iPads, iPhones and other mobile touchscreen devices.  Here at CALinnovates we applaud Durazo and Verafirma, (who created the proposal), for paving the way for democracy, technology, and all other 57 counties to get “signed”-up.  Some worry the signatures may be hard to verify and provide the chance for fraud, but when top banks like Wells Fargo allow customers to open accounts via electronic signature…who can argue?  Certainly not us.  And although the California election code doesn’t include Mac friendly jargon like “iPhone” or “iPad”, maybe it should.  Unless someone sues Durazo, the e-signatures will stand, and we’re right there behind ‘em…chicken scratch and all.


Earlier this month, the arrest of a bakers dozen from the Gambino family for their alleged illicit activities advertised on Craigslist heated up the scrutiny surrounding the posting and use of cash collected in the advertising of what the feds and several state attorney generals claim is the unlawful solicitation of teenage girls.  The New York Times reported in April that they estimate Craigslist will collect in excess of $36M this year for the placement of these ads. A subpoena issued by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who although recently cinched CT’s dem nomination for the senate seat being vacated by Chris Dodd (who has his own trials with the truth) was met with knee-jerk defensive ridicule from Craig himself in a blog posting.

Come on Craig, young girls are getting sold on Craig’s list!  At least have the presence of mind, or the publicist, to denounce the unlawful solicitations and vow to help eradicate the abhorrent activities versus attacking the AG and saying that what you are doing is “legal”.  What about “moral?”

To date, Craigslist, and other online resources for the unseemly and unlawful, have hidden behind Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, which says: No provider or user of interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.  This provision of federal law has allowed Craig and his list to successfully defend a case alleging the site was liable for offensive ads posted on Craigslist that violated the Fair Housing Act, the federal law that makes it unlawful for landlords to refuse to rent to someone because of their race or religious background (for example, ads were posted on Craigslist that said NO MINORITIES).

My question–and go ahead, call me a prude–is why is it that regulators aren’t doing more around this?  Sure, the first amendment reigns supreme, both in my house and in this country, but it does not give you the right to advertise unlawful activities, especially unlawful activities involving minors. If online resources are knowingly being used to advertise these services, it seems to me the law should be crafted in a way to both protect lawful free speech, and to curtail the unlawful peddling of pre-pubescent girls by renown crime syndicates.  It’s true, the law is taking its time to catch up to the web, and mostly, that’s a good thing; leaving the internet unregulated has created an environment that is ripe for innovation and I’m all for that, but this is different. If given the chance to save one 12-year-old from being hawked on Craigslist I’d take it, even if it means I don’t get to unload that horribly uncomfortable and equally hideous sleeper-sofa on some unsuspecting college kid who has no option but to furnish his room with Craigslist cast-offs. And sure, as the Craigslist defense asserts, if these girls aren’t being exploited on Craigslist they might be elsewhere, in either the virtual or bricks and mortar world.  Hey, I’m a dreamer, I’d like to think our regulators might actually get ahead of this one and find a way to prevent the sale of girls in plain site (intended misspelling).

Apparently…Craig might have a conscience (or more likely a belabored pool of PR consultants).  First, in early May the SF-based company sent out a bunch of unsolicited checks to human rights groups–at least some of which were returned un-cashed.  Then, in the middle of the night Craigslist unilaterally announced it would no longer host the ever-popular “Erotic Services” category on its site, and, as of last week, there would be a new category called “Adult Services”, which would be scoured for impropriety by some new Craigslist employees.  So, the news: mobsters–new category to advertise in; unemployed voyeurs–apply to Craigslist, apparently they’re hiring…

Cross-posted on DailyKos


Page 41 of 42« First...102030...3839404142