Category Archives: News Center

Former Director of California’s GO Biz, Former Director of Policy at Facebook Join CALinnovates

SAN FRANCISCO, June 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — CALinnovates executive director Mike Montgomery announced today that Kish Rajan and Tim Sparapani have joined the organization as chief evangelist and senior policy fellow, respectively. Representing companies across the Golden State, CALinnovates advocates for businesses that are improving industries and expanding economic opportunities for Californians through innovative technologies.

Building on expansive experience in California technology and public policy, Rajan serves as CALinnovates’ chief evangelist, leading the organization’s statewide business and economic development programs. Most recently, Rajan served as director of the CaliforniaGovernor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO Biz.) under Governor Jerry Brown. As a public advocate, he shaped the state’s economic development efforts, working with policy makers, business leaders and communities to advance economic growth and a positive business climate in California. Previously, Rajan was elected city council member for the City of Walnut Creek in the Bay Area.

“Innovation is the new heartbeat of our economy.  As California asserts its global leadership, we want this boom to create opportunity for every Californian,” Rajan said. “At CALinnovates we are developing a robust work plan to increase public awareness and shape policy discussions about the imperative to build a more modern economy that can benefit all.”

A prominent privacy advocate, Sparapani joins CALinnovates as a champion of consumers at the federal level, and will serve as senior policy fellow. A self-described “tech optimist”, Sparapani has helped innovators and entrepreneurs navigate the world of D.C., state and international regulation for over a decade, first as director of public policy at Facebook, then as vice president of law, policy and government affairs at the Application Developers Alliance. Sparapani formerly served as senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The bridge between California technology and Washington policy has never been more important than it is today,” said Sparapani. “The tech community’s ingenuity and disruptions echo through Capitol Hill. It is important that regulations power innovation while providing certainty and competition and ensure consumer protection and choice.”

“Kish and Tim are well-regarded thought leaders in technology policy matters and bring immense knowledge and experience to CALinnovates,” said Montgomery. “In having colleagues with their expertise on both coasts, CALinnovates will continue to expand its tech advocacy and leadership on behalf of innovators and entrepreneurs at every level of government.”

Located in San Francisco, CALinnovates is a non-profit tech advocacy coalition working with innovative companies across the Golden State that are improving industries and expanding economic opportunities across the nation.

Forbes: Why Civic Tech Is The Next Big Thing

By: Mike Montgomery

As recently as ten years ago, government was seen as the black plague of the tech world. Bureaucracies move slowly. Governments have limited resources. Convincing municipalities to spend money on anything can be a Herculean task. Venture capitalists recommended entrepreneurs stick to the private sector where budgets are looser and there’s a more diverse customer base.

 That’s beginning to change. Civic tech is now a hot space for tech investments. Governments are waking up to the need to bring their technology into the 21st century. It’s no longer good enough to have documents hidden in hundreds of filing cabinets and reports printed out on dot-matrix printers. Citizens are increasingly demanding transparency from their elected officials and too often, governments have no way to provide a clear window into how or why taxpayer money is being spent.

Read the full article here.

So Far Net Neutrality Hasn’t Broken The Internet

Shares of Verizon — the future home of this publication — a company viscerally opposed to net neutrality, are down a fraction in a down market. Investors, it seems, aren’t pricing much downside into net neutrality in the immediate aftermath of its enaction.

There is a certain irony to the Verizon point. Verizon brought the last suit against net neutrality that led to the new rules. Title II is in no small way due to the actions of that ISP.

Legal challenges to net neutrality are on a fast track and should be wrapped up, perhaps, by the end of 2015. The key aspect to an accelerated court schedule is that the market needs certainty on the matter. If the FCC’s rules are overturned, things change. If the agency succeeds in court, things don’t change.

Following the FCC’s victory to put down a stay of its rules, Wheeler said that the decision “give[s] broadband providers the certainty and economic incentive to build fast and competitive broadband networks.” ISPs would rather have it another way.

Aside from legal threats, another potentiality looms for net neutrality: A new administration’s FCC changing the rules. That fact adds another wrinkle to the current presidential election cycle — who wins will be able to either maintain, or shape, net neutrality policy in a different direction.

Congressional action, of course, remains a possibility.

Mike Montgomery of CALinnovates, a technology interest group, told TechCrunch that if the party in the White House changes, things could rapidly shift:

A Republican President will surely make the appointment of a new FCC Chairman a priority, and that new Chairman would likely take a sledgehammer to the Open Internet Order as her or his first order of business. […] The new President’s appointment of a new FCC Chairman will shift the balance of power at the Commission, turning a 3-2 Democratic majority into a Democratic minority, thus providing the votes to either completely overturn the imposition of Title II or drastic forbearance, leading to a theoretical ‘wild west’ that would lack any clear rules of the road, which would create a nightmare scenario for consumers, startups and the greater business community, and investors.

Montgomery said that if the net neutrality rules lose in court, it could lead to “a situation where fast lanes, blocking, and throttling will be squarely back on the table.”

In short, here we are, as expected. Welcome back to net neutrality.

CALinnovates’ Statement on DC Court’s Denial of Title II Stay

The following statement can be attributed to CALinnovates’ Executive Director Mike Montgomery:

“This is the first of what will be many court decisions with regard to Title II and Net Neutrality. Unfortunately, these decisions will take several years and leave a great deal of uncertainty in their wake – uncertainty that will hinder innovation, business planning and ultimately the growth of the Internet and the future of the new economy.

“Today’s legal decision changes nothing about the policy imperative, which is why it is essential for Congress to take action in a bipartisan fashion to settle the issue around Net Neutrality once and for all in a way that moves beyond Title II and takes a 21st-century approach to technology policy.”

The 2016 Net Neutrality Time Bomb

(Special to Medium)

No matter who wins the next presidential election, Net Neutrality isn’t secure without legislation.

Elections aren’t always a good thing (I know that sounds un-American but hear me out…)

Elections are the bedrock of our democracy and one of the many things that make this country great. If an elected leader isn’t cutting it, the voters have the opportunity to kick him or her out of office every few years. That’s powerful stuff.

But when it comes to Net Neutrality, the very nature of elections puts the Internet at risk. Thanks to recent action by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Net Neutrality is now the province of the FCC.

On January 20, 2016, the nation’s new President will be inaugurated and he (or she) will appoint a new FCC Chairman to replace current Chairman Tom Wheeler. That person will have an outsized influence on the future of Net Neutrality and he (or she) may decide not to enforce the current rules or to change them all together. Everything is riding on the next President’s feeling about Net Neutrality. Although the campaign season is just getting started, we’re already getting a look at who the likely candidates will be and where they stand on Internet freedom.

Read the full article here: https://medium.com/@calinnovates/the-2016-net-neutrality-time-bomb-6bac50e0b7ab

Congress Must Act if DOJ’s Actions Harm Viability of Music Streaming

Special to Roll Call:

By Mike Montgomery

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held what should be considered an historic hearing to discuss the competitive landscape surrounding music licensing; not just the age old fight about how to divide the royalties, but to examine whether competition in the music space is healthy enough to allow new entrants — such as Pandora and iHeart — to continue to innovate and delight consumers.

In his opening statement, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said the committee needs to work toward ensuring fair compensation for artists while also ensuring that new music streaming companies can thrive. And that brought to the fore the 65-year-old antitrust consent decrees that dictate how music license rights are handled in the U.S.

Leahy’s goal isn’t ambitious — it’s logical. But it won’t be met if music labels and the organizations that represent songwriters and publishers get their way, because any modification of the consent decrees would threaten the existence of companies such as Spotify.

Read more: http://blogs.rollcall.com/beltway-insiders/congress-must-act-dojs-actions-harm-viability-music-streaming-commentary/?dcz=

Sen. Mike McGuire’s bill would require reporting by vacation rental companies

Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

A North Coast senator is taking aim at online vacation rental businesses such as Airbnb through proposed legislation that could reap millions for cities and counties in uncollected bed taxes, but critics slam as government over-reach and a threat to the so-called sharing economy.

But critics said the bill would be bad for business and for innovation.

“While consumer protections are generally a great thing, consumers shouldn’t be fooled by this barely-veiled, anti-competitive threat to innovative marketplaces,” Mike Montgomery, executive director of CALinnovates, said in a statement.

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/home/3681120-181/sen-mike-mcguires-bill-would

 

NERA: Effect of Title II on Investment Incentives “Worse Than We Thought”

When the FCC released it’s Net Neutrality Order last week, it cited a White Paper commissioned by CALinnovates and drafted by NERA.  The authors of NERA’s White Paper issued a response.  What follows is the conclusion, with a link to the full response, below:

We stand behind the basic results of NERA’s White Paper and find that, if anything, the Order has actually made us more worried about the state of competition and innovation than we were before seeing it, assuming it manages to pass its initial, and inevitable, court challenges. Although the Order is quite long, the actual new rules are very short, reflecting the difficulties that nomenclature and case-by-case analysis will bring. Further, the Order tries to describe the new rules as “light-handed,” ignoring the incentives of aggrieved parties to achieve through FCC litigation what they could not achieve in open competition. As a result, innovation is shackled with new costs that could kill, or at least severely hamper, further development of the Internet ecosystem.

Click here to read NERA’s full response

Congress Presses Uber And Lyft On Driver Background Checks

(Via Tech Crunch)

Ride-sharing companies are not strangers to Congressional inquiries. This week a group of Congressional Democrats hit the CEOs of Uber, Sidecar and Lyft with another letter, this time demanding the companies conduct more comprehensive background checks on their drivers to better protect customers from sexual assaults.

Although these companies conduct internal screenings, the cohort of lawmakers do not believe they go far enough. The representatives called on the companies to adopt fingerprint-based background checks for drivers, both new and existing. The representatives believe a change to the policy is needed following the alleged string of sexual assaults by ride-share drivers in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Read the full article here.

Raising royalty rates won’t save music

(Via The Hill)

Instead, it could kill off an industry that has finally helped combat piracy.

Today, listening to the music you want to hear is easier than ever. Forget waiting for your favorite song to come on the radio or camping out on a Tuesday night to be one of the first to buy the latest CD. Thanks to streaming services like Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio, listeners have access to millions of songs at the click of a mouse for less than the cost of buying one CD per month.

But while consuming music is now a breeze, ensuring the right people are getting paid for their work is more complicated than ever.There’s no question that the royalties system is broken. Artists and songwriters are being compensated for their works under completely outdated laws that line the pockets of the record labels while leaving the artists high and dry. But simply raising the royalties tech companies have to pay for music won’t help the situation — if anything it will make it worse.

Read the full article here.