Privacy Shield Marks a Promising Step Forward – Not the End of the Road – on Privacy

posted by in Privacy July 14, 2016
Jul 14

When you think about how the internet operates, you probably think about “how many bars” you have and making sure your device has a charge strong enough to last the day. Perhaps you think about software and data. What you might not think about are obscure agreements on paper or Congress’s everlasting arguments on privacy.

And yet those details are vital to the operation of the internet. They create the legal framework that allows the technical components to all work together. In short, it takes paper pacts to keep the data flowing and the LEDs lit.

That’s why this week’s signing of a new agreement between the United States and the European Union should be a cause for major celebration as well as a time to acknowledge the real work that remains to be done to support cross-border data flows.

As for this week’s development, the new EU-US Privacy Shield, finalized in a meeting between EU Commissioner Vera Jourova and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, is indispensable to the future of digital commerce. The Privacy Shield will allow US and European companies to send data back and forth across the Atlantic.

This is important because data is now instrumental to so many elements of our interconnected, global economy. Moving data is crucial at almost every step of financial lives. Without the Privacy Shield, multinational companies would have struggled to ensure their employees received their paychecks. Businesses would have had to find new ways to process international orders. Software companies, a trillion-dollar sector of the US economy, would have needed new systems to move, process, and store their customers’ data. Those crises, thankfully, have been averted.

Looking ahead, though, much more remains to be done. As a start, international policymakers need to create a durable framework to govern the new age of data-related investigations, and Members of Congress must continue to rebuild trust among technology users by improving the US privacy regime.

Today’s criminal investigations, like today’s crimes, are not limited by national boundaries. But our legal regimes were crafted for a system focused on physical – not digital – evidence. In the physical world, it’s still obvious that borders matter. And the system for obtaining physical evidence that belongs to a citizen of another country requires an exchange of both legal comities with other countries – and the proper paperwork.

Such regimes were not designed for an age when the police could access the contents of a person’s digital communications located almost anywhere in the world with a few clicks of a mouse and without the involvement of the country’s legal system – or privacy protections. But even there borders still matter. As Americans we would never accept foreign investigators reaching across border to snatch our data, and yet the United States has argued that it can do exactly that to others. Such claims threaten not only our bilateral relations but the trust that US companies have cultivated in their customers around the world.

Congress can begin to address this concern by adopting legislation designed to craft appropriate boundaries for digital requests. The International Communications Privacy Act, or ICPA, would do just that. The legislation, which was introduced last month, by Sens. Hatch, Coons, and Heller, and Reps. Marino and DelBene, will help investigators do their jobs while also preserving consumer privacy. The bill ensures that law enforcement officials obtain warrants for the content of U.S. persons’ communications, removes the uncertainty around how to access such information belonging to foreign nationals, and it improves the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty system, which is the mechanism used to access evidence abroad.

In addition, Congress should take the lead in continuing to improve the privacy protections of Americans in the digital realm. Lawmakers can do so by extending warrant protections to all digital data, by considering appropriate protections for new types of data, and by increasing the transparency around law enforcement requests by limiting the use of gag orders. First, the Senate should join the House in passing reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. That legislation, the most popular in Congress, would require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant for access before obtaining the contents of our online communications. Further, as we generate location data and other new sources of information for investigators, Congress should consider how to balance the government’s ability to access that data and the opportunities for service providers to inform their customers when their data is demanded.

The foundation of the digital age is trust, and the aim of each of these efforts is to expand users’ trust in the products and services that power today’s economy by creating appropriate privacy protections. By doing so, we can advance the aims of today’s Privacy Shield agreement, and extend the celebration.

Read recent media highlights from BSA on the Privacy Shield agreement here.

BSA Gives Back

posted by in Uncategorized June 20, 2016
Jun 20

On Friday, BSA kicked off our inaugural Global Day of Service – a day for the BSA team around the world to donate some time as a group to public service. It was gratifying on many levels, including seeing the great ideas and wonderful generosity of spirit from our global team.

In DC, I joined many of my colleagues near the FDR memorial on the National Mall to pick up trash and haul driftwood from along the shore of the Potomac River. We spent several hours filling many, many bags of trash and 2 tons of driftwood.


Singapore added beauty to our great outdoors with the Singapore National Park Service.


London volunteered at The Passage, a homeless shelter in Westminster, preparing and serving lunch.


Brussels got into the giving spirit by providing pro-bono advice to educational NGO start-ups on communication strategy, partnerships, and grants.

BSA Brussels

Warsaw worked with a non-profit, Your Case Association, that combats negative ads aimed at children.

BSA Poland


BSA’s Global Day of Service enables us all to do something good “together,” even if we’re spread out across the world. Thanks to all who participated!

The $1 Trillion Economic Impact of Software

posted by in Industry June 15, 2016
Jun 15

cover-techpost-275Today, I’ll be at New America talking about the impact software has on the economy. Software is at the forefront of American innovation — laying the groundwork for advances that promise to make businesses more efficient, jobs more plentiful, opportunities more pervasive, and the economy even more prosperous.

BSA | The Software Alliance has released “The $1 Trillion Economic Impact of Software,” a first-of-its-kind study conducted by researchers at The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to quantify software’s impact on the US economy.

Here are a few key findings:

  • Software supports nearly 10 million jobs nationwide.
  • Software drives economic gains in all 50 states.
  • The average annual wage for a software developer is $108,760. That salary, along with big career prospects and satisfying work is why Glassdoor named “data scientist” as the best job for 2016 and CNN named “software architect” as the number one job for 2015.

Software jobs are interesting high paying jobs — but we need more engineers and coders.

Our industry has more jobs than we can fill. The Department of Labor projects that by 2020, US universities will only be able to fill less than one-third of 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. We need to encourage more young people to pursue science careers, including computer science.

I will be discussing the study’s findings, as well as the need to expand the pipeline of software talent, at a New America event today called “Software’s Economic Impact + The Drive for Talent.” I will be joined by Ryan Burke, Senior Policy Advisor, National Economic Council, The White House; Mark Doms, PhD, Former Undersecretary for Economic Affairs, Department of Commerce; Lisa Guernsey, Director of New America’s Learning Technologies Project; Melissa Moritz, Deputy Director of STEM, Department of Education; and Cameron Wilson, COO and VP, Government Relations,

The full study, along with detailed summaries of the findings, is available at

Encryption: Securing Our Data, Securing Our Lives

posted by in Cybersecurity, Data June 1, 2016
Jun 01

Encryption impacts our daily lives from the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we fall asleep. When we log into work from home, use a credit card to pay for lunch, or just text a friend, encryption is keeping our data secure. Encryption is also keeping us safe by protecting critical infrastructure and the information that moves across national security networks.

There is an important debate going on around the country — and around the world — about the importance of strong cybersecurity, which relies on encryption, and the legitimate needs of law enforcement to access encrypted data. The conversation has, at times, been heated. When discussions get heated, facts often get left behind.


New BSA Survey: Organizations Can Combat Cyberattacks by Avoiding Unlicensed Software

May 25

BSA GSS 2016Organizations worried by the ever-increasing threat of cyberattacks should start by looking inward. One of the first, critical steps an organization needs to take is to ensure that all of the software running on its own network is legitimate and fully licensed.

Doing so matters, as highlighted in Seizing Opportunity Through License Compliance, this year’s Global Software Survey from BSA | The Software Alliance. As that study demonstrates, use of unlicensed software is strongly linked to the introduction of malware and all of its dangers.  And once into a network, cybercriminals and malicious hacking can do significant harm.


BSA Heads to the Hill

posted by in Industry May 20, 2016
May 20

On this past Wednesday, BSA | The Software Alliance hosted its annual fly-in. Board members from BSA spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with Members of Congress to talk about policy priorities like ECPA reform, international data flows, TPP, and computer science education. Our delegation included representatives from Bentley, CA Technologies, Datastax, IBM, SAS Institute, Siemens, Splunk, Workday, and Dell.

Fly-ins help us share our industry advocacy priorities with Members of Congress and educate them about what our member companies do. Our fly-in was also a valuable way to thank lawmakers for their leadership on issues like the Judicial Redress Act, the Defend Trade Secrets Act, and patent legislation. On Wednesday, we met with 5 House Members and 9 Senators. Meetings with leadership included Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry.


Is It Time to Pop the Champagne for ECPA?

posted by in Cybersecurity, Data, Privacy April 26, 2016
Apr 26

It generally isn’t a good idea to celebrate before a vote in Congress. But it also isn’t generally the case that the House is voting on a measure that is sponsored by nearly three-quarters of its Members. That is the situation this week, with a vote coming on the Email Privacy Act — a bill sponsored by a staggering 314 Representatives.

And those circumstances are why this time perhaps it’s worth celebrating — just a bit — this big step for privacy even before votes are cast.

More Effort Needed to Pave Way for Cloud Computing Benefits

posted by in Cloud Computing, Data, Industry April 26, 2016
Apr 26

Much has been written about the benefits of cloud computing. It’s providing consumers, businesses, and governments quick, efficient and affordable access to technology that was previously available only to large organizations. And that access is rapidly expanding opportunities in established markets and emerging economies alike.

Less attention has been paid, however, to what cloud providers need to ensure those consumers, businesses and governments can access the cloud: the right mix of national laws and regulations.

Focusing attention on that element the cloud is the purpose of a new study from BSA | The Software Alliance. That study, the 2016 Global Cloud Computing Scorecard, reveals that while many countries have made healthy improvements in their policy environments in recent years, a patchwork of inadequate laws and regulations around the globe threatens to stunt the unprecedented societal benefits and economic growth fueled by cloud computing.


A Bipartisan, Consensus Approach to Innovation Policy

posted by in Intellectual Property March 29, 2016
Mar 29

In encouraging news given today’s climate, Congress is making progress on legislation that will promote innovation.  Even more encouraging?  The legislation and process involved in this progress are both bipartisan and bicameral.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act, introduced in the Senate by Senators Hatch and Coons, and in the House by Representatives Collins, Nadler, and Jeffries, shows tremendous promise when it comes to bolstering software innovation – so important to our daily lives, and to the health of our national economy as a whole.


Progress in Building Trust in Trans-Atlantic Data Flows

posted by in Data, Global Markets, Privacy February 11, 2016
Feb 11

Last night, the US House passed the Senate-amended version of the Judicial Redress Act, now headed to President Obama for signature. Progress on this front matters. This needed legislation will form a critical part of a stable and trustworthy structure for free flow of data across borders – so essential for economic growth in our digital economy.

Following last week’s agreement between the United States and European Union on the Privacy Shield, a successor to the Safe Harbor Framework as a mechanism for protecting the flow of personal information in the commercial context, enactment of the Judicial Redress Act will further harmonize US and European privacy protections as well.