Restoring Confidence in the Digital Economy

posted by in Data, Global Markets April 10, 2014
Apr 10

How do we restore trust and confidence in the underpinnings of the digital economy in the wake of unsettling disclosures about international surveillance practices?

That question is top of mind for policymakers in the US and European Union as they ponder the possibility of a grand, new transatlantic trade and investment partnership. As I noted in speeches this week in Brussels and Paris, getting the answer right will be critical if we are going to capture maximum benefit from the kinds of software innovations that are transforming everything from the way manufacturers manage their supply chains to the way doctors provide healthcare.

There is no question that disclosures about surveillance programs have raised important privacy and security questions that deserve a serious, thoughtful debate. But it is also important not to conflate separate issues. National security concerns don’t have to undermine technology innovation and economic growth — and we shouldn’t allow them to.

BSA strongly supports reforming surveillance regimes to build trust and confidence in the technologies that drive the modern economy. That’s why we have urged US officials to increase transparency around government requests for data. We are encouraged that broader reform proposals are now being put forward by the Obama Administration and Congress.

But surveillance reform is not just a US matter. So there needs to be a robust international dialogue on surveillance norms, and there are a number of things that should be on the table as part of that dialogue:

  • First, countries around the world all should take action to improve the transparency of their data-collection practices.
  • Second, governments should work together to develop a “shared language” on transparency — so that when agencies disclose information about surveillance demands, people can understand it.
  • Third, we should improve the system of mutual legal assistance treaties (“MLATs”) that law enforcement agencies rely on when they pursue investigations.

As a former trade negotiator, I know from first-hand experience how hard it can be to find agreement on complex issues like these. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying. In the absence of constructive discussions about national security considerations, there is a real risk that countries will adopt the wrong kinds of solutions.

Already, as BSA has documented extensively, there has been a rising tide of digital protectionism around the world. Particularly concerning has been a movement toward undue restrictions on the flow of information across borders. Some countries are requiring companies to put servers inside their borders to do business there. Others are adopting heavy-handed preferences for locally developed technologies, particularly in government procurement.

In Europe, recent policy discussions about how to promote cloud computing have been colored at times with protectionist rhetoric. For example, the idea of a “Schengen area for data” has been discussed on the one hand as a way to enable the digital single market — but also as a way to shield EU firms from international competition. It has been alarming that some have even suggested creating a dedicated, EU-only cloud infrastructure.

As a practical matter, attempting to lock data inside national borders — and keep competitors out — is self-defeating. It sends a validating signal to other, less transparent markets that it is okay for them to turn inward. It also limits the horizons of domestic companies when they want to export to foreign markets. But more fundamentally, attempting to balkanize the Internet would be a perversion of what it does and what it stands for. It would subvert the architecture of the Internet and subvert the benefits it has brought the world.

Europe and the United States have an opportunity today to show the world there is a better way. We need to promote a globally integrated marketplace that gives everyone the opportunity to capture maximum value from the cloud and digital services.

The goals of national security, data privacy and technology innovation cannot be held apart as mutually exclusive. We need to envision and drive towards a world of mutual trust, dynamic innovation and broadly beneficial growth.

EU-US Summit Is an Opportunity to Re-Establish Trust in the Transatlantic Relationship

posted by in Global Markets March 26, 2014
Mar 26

Today’s EU-US Summit in Brussels, at which President Obama will join his European counterparts, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, provides an important opportunity to reinforce EU-US economic ties. A strong transatlantic partnership will send a message to global markets that the greatest prospects for economic growth and development lie in keeping borders open to data flows and preventing mandates on where servers and other computing infrastructure are located.

The commercial relationship between Europe and the US is the most significant in the world. Yet events this past year have strained this bond, in particular revelations about US government access to data. As a result, some European policymakers have argued the EU should retreat from its strong economic ties with America, calling for suspension of the Safe Harbor mechanism that facilitates cross-border data flows, requesting servers to be located geographically within Europe, even pushing for European IT independence. (more…)

Affirming the Patentability of Software

posted by in Intellectual Property February 27, 2014
Feb 27

The Supreme Court next month will hear oral arguments in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp., an important case that could go a long way toward affirming that the breathtaking software innovations transforming the world around us are patentable just like any other form of innovation as long as they meet the standard tests of being new, useful, non-obvious and adequately described.

The debate about software patentability has been contentious in recent years, partly because it has been exacerbated by questionable inventions masquerading as software patents. Take the patents asserted by Alice Corp. They simply describe a well-known process for settling financial transactions — an abstract idea that has been around for centuries — and claim that performing the steps on a computer is an invention. The concept of performing intermediate settlements on a computer adds no substantial value and does not make the abstract idea patentable, so the Court should find Alice’s patents invalid. (more…)

Study Shows Impact of Software Infringement for Manufacturers

posted by in Intellectual Property, Piracy February 12, 2014
Feb 12

It has long been well understood that software is a key driver of growth and innovation because it serves as a tool of production for businesses across every sector of the global economy. It also follows that the impact of software intellectual property infringement is far reaching — and a new study quantifies that impact in the manufacturing sector.

Bill Kerr, associate professor at Harvard Business School, and Chad Moutray, chief economist for National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have found that global software IP infringement is a significant drain on the US economy. Their study, commissioned by NAM and the National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation, reveals that between 2002 and 2012 software infringement cost nearly $240 billion in manufacturing revenue, $70 billion in GDP and more than 42,000 US manufacturing jobs.

Results of the study were discussed on January 30, 2014 in a panel discussion at NAM headquarters featuring the study authors and industry leaders:

A Forward-Looking Trade Agenda for the Digital Economy

posted by in Cloud Computing, Global Markets January 30, 2014
Jan 30

The world now invests nearly $4 trillion a year on information and communications technologies. This is propelling rapid evolution in the global economy, transforming everything from the way manufacturers manage their supply chains and retailers serve their customers, to the way doctors provide healthcare and police monitor crime statistics to improve public safety.

But capturing the maximum possible benefit from all this innovation — to spur growth, create jobs and improve people’s quality of life — will require modernizing global trade rules to promote rather than inhibit international sales and exports of the kinds of products and services that are powered by software, cloud computing and data analytics.

With major trade negotiations now underway in the Atlantic and Pacific — plus separate multilateral talks progressing on services and IT products — we have a historic opportunity to enact such an agenda and drive long-term growth in the digital economy. That is the main conclusion of a new report from BSA | The Software Alliance, titled, “Powering the Digital Economy: A Trade Agenda to Drive Growth.”


Pass the Innovation Act

posted by in Intellectual Property December 3, 2013
Dec 03

The US House of Representatives is set to vote this week on the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309), an important bipartisan bill that would curb abusive patent litigation by reducing the financial incentive for bad actors to engage in it.

BSA urges Members of Congress to support the bill.

We have laid out the case for balanced patent reform along with a detailed analysis of the Innovation Act on For a great overview of why the bill is needed, we would also encourage everyone to watch this video from Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the bill’s sponsor:

Navigating the Cloud: Why Software Asset Management Is More Important Than Ever

posted by in Cloud Computing, Piracy November 5, 2013
Nov 05

Cloud computing offers businesses the prospect of immense benefits — lower IT costs, greater operational efficiency, and increased protection against malware to name a few. For IT managers looking to reap these benefits, a key step should be implementing effective software asset management (SAM) practices. That is the somewhat surprising conclusion of a new BSA study released today.

Navigating the Cloud — Why Software Asset Management is More Important than Ever” details how SAM helps to unlock the potential of the cloud.  Conventional wisdom had been that there’s no need to worry about license compliance or other SAM concerns in the cloud. But it turns out that as more and more organizations shift their computing resources to the cloud, businesses that understand that SAM is just as critical and beneficial in the cloud as it is in traditional IT environments will have a competitive advantage. (more…)

Transatlantic Data Flows: Shift the Focus to How—Not If

posted by in Cloud Computing, Data, Global Markets September 26, 2013
Sep 26

It comes as no surprise that conversations about data protection are dominating capitals around the world. Unfortunately, those conversations are being twisted in a way that confuses the issues at hand and threatens policies like the EU-US Safe Harbor Agreement that help deliver the benefits at the core of the digital economy.

This situation is the product of the collision of two related — but separate — realms of data privacy, commercial data privacy and government access to data. While nations are moving quickly to establish a policy framework for a global cloud computing network that will connect businesses and consumers to products, services, and markets around the world, this summer’s disclosures of national surveillance practices have significantly heightened user and government concerns about access to data generally. (more…)

Competing Visions for Europe’s Cloud

posted by in Cloud Computing, Data July 30, 2013
Jul 30

A quiet battle of wills has broken out among European policymakers who are pushing competing visions for how to capitalize on the most significant wave of innovation now underway in information technology: cloud computing. 

All agree that by creating a new, more efficient architecture for computing, the cloud offers vast economic benefits. It lets enterprises avoid the cost of buying and maintaining some of the IT hardware and software they need to run their operations. Instead, they can have their computing resources delivered over the Internet, as infinitely scalable services. For established companies, this creates cost savings that can be reinvested in the core business. For smaller startups, it represents one less obstacle on the path to growth.  (more…)

Using Legal Software to Reduce Cyber Vulnerabilities

posted by in Cybersecurity, Piracy June 26, 2013
Jun 26

Earlier this month, BSA member Microsoft partnered with the FBI and law enforcement authorities in more than 80 countries to break up a huge cybercrime ring that had managed to steal an estimated $500 million from bank accounts in the United States, Europe and Hong Kong. The perpetrators carried out their crimes by infecting millions of PCs with a virus that effectively turned them into zombies and then conscripted them into the service of malicious computer networks known as Citadel botnets. All told, the Microsoft-FBI–led enforcement operation took down 1,400 of these botnets. (more…)