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2 07, 2020

App Coalition Statement on Amendments to the EARN IT Act

2020-07-02T10:39:42-04:00July 2nd, 2020|

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: press@appcoalition.org

WASHINGTON, DC – July 2, 2020 – The App Coalition, a new technology industry coalition promoting the global App Economy, is urging that Congress provide additional resources to law enforcement, counselors and others to support efforts at addressing child sex abuse materials (CSAM) and the exploitation of children. The App Coalition acknowledges efforts by the authors of the EARN IT Act to improve the draft legislation and shares their concern that more needs to be done to address CSAM. The purpose is laudable and the efforts are commendable, a carve-out from Section 230, however, is not the answer.

“Law enforcement is essential to the elimination of CSAM. The private sector under current law has an obligation to remove CSAM and assist law enforcement in making them aware of CSAM that is removed or prevented from being posted on their platforms,” said Michael Drobac, director of the App Coalition.

He pointed out that Internet and application companies alone have reported more than 45 million attempted postings of CSAM to law enforcement in 2018, yet these companies are unable to perform what is essentially a law enforcement function, which is to pursue the people seeking to disseminate the material.

“To eliminate CSAM, funding is needed to ensure law enforcement has the resources necessary to enforce existing law,” Drobac said.

Efforts such as those being advanced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-CA, in the Invest in Child Safety Act would provide $5 billion to improve enforcement, provide additional resources to the National Missing and Exploited Children’s Network — including for mental health counseling and technology upgrades — and require technology companies to increase the time that they hold evidence of CSAM in a secure database to assist law enforcement. These efforts would directly focus resources on eliminating CSAM, Drobac said.

Additionally, the App Coalition remains concerned about the process in the Senate Judiciary bill for developing best practices to address the elimination of CSAM. “While it’s laudable that Congress is seeking ways to address this, we believe development of best practices in this area, like in so many others, would greatly benefit from a more inclusive stakeholder process,” Drobac said. He pointed to stakeholder-involved efforts coordinated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as envisioned in the PACT Act, as an established mechanism for developing best practices through a more inclusive process. The App Coalition believes that formal public input during the development process will provide a more robust set of best practices for tech companies to deploy against CSAM.

The App Coalition believes that the current law that enables federal criminal prosecution is a sufficient deterrent for nefarious websites, but continues to object to the attempted expansion of civil claims, which the Coalition believes is an invitation for dubious actors who might hope to get platforms to settle to avoid litigation costs.

“The App Coalition strongly supports Section 230,” Drobac said. “We urge members of  Congress to consider alternatives that provide law enforcement and other government agencies the resources they need to address and prevent the spread of CSAM and a more inclusive process for development of best practices.”

For more about the App Coalition, visit www.appcoalition.org, follow @app_coalition, or email press@appcoalition.org.

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25 06, 2020

App Coalition Statement on the EARN IT Act

2020-06-25T15:05:30-04:00June 25th, 2020|

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: press@appcoalition.org

WASHINGTON, DC – June 25, 2020 – The App Coalition, a new technology industry coalition promoting the global App Economy, voiced significant concern today regarding the EARN IT Act, which was postponed for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“We are glad that Chairman Graham and his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee have delayed the Committee’s consideration of the EARN IT Act.  The App Coalition believes that while the bill stated objective is to support efforts to remove child sex abuse material (CSAM) from the Internet, it duplicates existing law without furthering that objective,” said Michael Drobac, Director of the App Coalition. “Further, the EARN IT Act, as introduced, targets protections given to distributors of user-generated content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), thus exposing small- and medium-sized businesses that provide critical services, news and community to frivolous lawsuits and overeager trial lawyers.”

Instead, the App Coalition favors bipartisan efforts to make necessary funding available to federal and state agencies to properly enable enforcement of existing laws against purveyors of CSAM through investigations and prosecutions. Proper resources and enforcement of existing laws would dramatically curb the availability of CSAM and provide meaningful remedies for those harmed by these materials, without endangering the protections from Section 230.

Drobac reiterated that the EARN IT Act targets protections afforded to distributors of user-generated content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA). However, Section 230 already clarifies that no protections are available for violations of federal criminal statutes. This includes the possession, distribution, selling, receiving, accessing, and importing of CSAM. In other words, existing law already addresses the very issue that the EARN IT Act seeks to remedy.

The App Coalition will continue to work with lawmakers to ensure government agencies are provided with the resources needed to enforce existing law rather than create duplicative law and regulations that shift responsibility to the private sector.

The App Coalition strongly supports Section 230 and urges Congress to focus its efforts on seeking to provide law enforcement and other government agencies the resources they need to address and prevent the spread of CSAM.

For more about the App Coalition, visit www.appcoalition.org, follow @app_coalition, or email press@appcoalition.org.

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29 04, 2020

App Coalition Aims at Protecting Consumer Choice

2020-04-29T09:13:22-04:00April 29th, 2020|

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PRESS RELEASE
04/29/2020
Contact: Greg Guice, gguice@mwcllc.com

Washington, D.C. — Leading application companies (apps) across a range of technology sectors launched the App Coalition today, the first organization to solely focus on developing regulatory policies and legislation to ensure unfettered consumer access to apps and digital content.

While the Coalition has broader, longer term policy goals, the Covid-19 pandemic has added another area of focus for the app economy as consumers use apps to stay connected to content, news, services and community. While overall app usage has surged in recent weeks among numerous technology verticals as most Americans have adapted to shelter-in-place, social distancing and quarantine orders, in other verticals, such as travel and hospitality, usage has dramatically declined.

As Congress reconvenes this week, App Coalition members are seeking legislation to modify Small Business Administration (SBA) industry size standards for software developers and the affiliation rules to better reflect the way app developers start and grow their businesses.

“A dynamic app economy is critical to consumers who rely on apps as their primary means of accessing digital content and information,” said Eric Silverberg, CEO of Perry Street Software. “It’s important that Congress recognizes that the multi-billion dollar app ecosystem remains vital as part of the overall efforts to restart and rebuild the economy.”

The broader objective of the Coalition is to promote a market where consumers have unimpeded access to the content of their choosing on their devices through apps. The App Coalition is working with several ranking members of Congress, and has provided congressional committee testimony and responses to several regulatory agency inquiries as part of its goals to develop policies and legislation relating to content moderation, privacy, access, and other elements of a functioning app economy.

“The App Coalition is distinct in that it represents independent app companies that are driving innovation across a range of verticals, unlike other organizations that focus on issues relevant to a single company or vertical,” said Greg Guice, Executive Director of the App Coalition and Senior Vice President at McGuireWoods Consulting.

Further, the Coalition is planning its first App Economy Virtual Summit in June 2020, which will include current and prospective members, members of Congress, regulatory agencies, academics, and developers. The summit will provide participants a forum to discuss policies, outline goals, and network with each other on topics including privacy, data security, content moderation, access, Covid-19 relief, and other topics relevant to a thriving and growing app economy.

App Economy Key Stats

Consumer Preference Has Shifted to Apps

  • Consumers spend an average of 69% of digital media time on smartphone and tablet apps and only 23% on desktops – a 12% increase over the previous year (Comscore 2019 App Usage Report)
  • The average user downloads two apps a month
  • App usage is heavier among younger users, but all age groups, including those over 65, spend the majority of their time in apps, rather than on websites

The App Market Provides Diverse Options to Meet Consumer Demand

  • More than 7,000 app development companies are in the United States (Software World Report)
  • App revenue is more than $71 billion and growing (Sensor Tower App Revenue)
  • More than 4 million apps are available to consumers representing a range of audiences (App Annie)
  • Consumers downloaded 194 billion apps worldwide in 2018 (App Annie)

About The App Coalition

The App Coalition is a member-led organization devoted to developing policies to promote the global app economy and protect consumers who increasingly rely upon their mobile apps, rather than websites, to manage their daily lives. The Coalition’s longer term mission is focused on:

  • A market free from control by artificial barriers, such as those created by gatekeepers;
  • Support for content moderation policies that reflect the customer relationship between an app and its customer, not third-party interference; and
  • A set of uniform privacy laws and data security practices reflective of consumer expectations.

For more information about the App Coalition and the upcoming App Economy Virtual Summit, visit www.appcoalition.org or follow @appcoalition on Twitter.

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