The standoff between Apple and the federal government over the unlocking of an iPhone that once was in possession of one of the San Bernardino shooters is illustrative. It encapsulates nicely the conflict that exists between the government’s responsibility to keep us safe and an individual’s right to privacy. This dispute may go down in history as the federal government, perhaps unknowingly, attempted to strong-arm one of the most artful and aggressive legal armies our courts have ever beheld.
Peter Roff | All Articles
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Peter Roff is a former senior political writer for United Press International and commentator on political and public affairs who appears regularly on the One America News Network.
It’s often said the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again while expecting to get a different result. Not surprisingly this appears to be a lesson lost on the head honchos at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae who, having made risky plays that almost toppled the American financial system and cost taxpayers at least $187 billion in bailouts – we may never know the real number, which is probably much higher – keep trying to perpetuate their existence and put things back the way they were.
What Shakespeare said about a rose smelling as sweet under any name is surprisingly not applicable to the world of consumer products and corporate brands. Your refrigerator, your washing machine, your television and many of other consumer appliances may, in fact, be manufactured by someone you’ve never heard of rather than by “the name you know” that is affixed to it.
Fighting patent trolls is the new slogan for the do-gooders waging war against the intellectual property pirates who are sapping innovation from the U.S. economy. You hear it from benevolent technology companies and Washington insiders alike, but there are more than a few in Silicon Valley who are walking a fine line between playing the virtuous corporate citizen and maintaining the bottom line.
Over the last decade changes in technology have brought about momentous changes in the commercial space. The Internet and the many devices that link to it have created a world in which the business of buying and selling goods is not only international but instantaneous.
Things have been relatively quiet since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law. President Barack Obama’s signature achievement had the unexpected effect of creating a kind of political ceasefire in the healthcare wars that had raged ever since Bill Clinton first entered the White House.
The United States Department of Justice has a well-earned reputation for ruthlessness in its pursuit of lawbreakers, to the point where serious concerns have been raised they are trampling on the rights of the accused. It’s gotten to the point where politically motivated prosecutions, while not exactly commonplace are alarmingly frequent. One does not need be a juris doctor to recognize the system is sick: The way Alaska Republican Ted Stevens was railroaded out of the U.S. Senate on a train driven by the DOJ’s Public Integrity section is proof enough of that.
Trade with what in less politically correct times was called the Far East is a vital part of the American economy. The Pacific Rim nations are a hub of economic activity whose imports and exports have a direct bearing on the health of the U.S. economy and, for this reason, is a center of interest for U.S. policymakers.
Despite considerable congressional opposition to the move, the Obama administration is still not backing away from its announcement it will be cutting ICANN loose from its last remaining moorings sooner rather than later.
The U.S. economy is still trying to recover from the crash it experienced after the housing bubble burst. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were bailed out to the tune of $187 billion and remain in conservatorship, wards of the state. The single saving grace was that many of those loans had private mortgage insurance covering the first 30 percent of loss; otherwise the taxpayers would have received a bill for an additional $50 plus billion.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – once an obscure nonprofit that was ostensibly important just to a handful of tech heads - is now mired in controversy as a result of the Obama administration’s announced intention to put an end to the last vestiges of America’s supervision of the Internet.
If there’s anyone who is certain beyond a reasonable doubt that the North Korean government or agents in its employ hacked into the computer system at Sony Pictures they’re not saying. Nevertheless suspicions still run high that the attack – which combined 21st century technological ruthlessness with the amateurishness of a fraternity prank – reminded everyone that the regime in Pyongyang considers the United States its mortal enemy.
The Chinese are intent on surpassing the United States as the world’s biggest economy. And they are not above rigging the game to get them there.
Whoever controls the Internet may control the future of global commerce. As more and more commercial platforms are developed, commerce is moving from Main Street into cyberspace at a rate that will make the Internet the global shopping mall of the future.
For some companies, winning a contract to do a job or provide a service for the United States military is the equivalent of finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. One good strike and you're home free. That makes for a contracting process that is highly regulated, closely supervised, and open both to review and repeal -- because heaven forbid someone should make an error that leaves the U.S. taxpayers on the hook or worse.
As the NetMundial global meeting on the future of Internet Governance convenes in Brazil today, the fallout stemming from the Obama administration’s announcement it would cede the United States’ remaining control of the Internet to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers beginning in 2015 continues.
The evolution of the Internet has not only changed the world of commerce; it’s revolutionized the diplomatic sphere and helped democratize the foreign policy process.
Everyone knows that sugar is sweet. What they don’t know is that it is also politically powerful. As Chris Edwards, the director of tax policy studies at Washington’s Cato Institute wrote in the fall of 2013, “No industry in America is as coddled as farming, and no industry is as centrally planned from Washington. The federal sugar program is perhaps the most Soviet of all.”
If the United States had a true free market economy, companies that made bad decisions would have to face the consequences of those decisions. But the U.S. has a mixed economy, meaning -- among other things -- that the federal government all too often steps in to protect companies from the consequences of their mistakes.