The State of Cloud Computing Can Be Taxing – Want to Understand Why?

Back in June 2010 – more than a year ago – we announced the launch of a new Rimon initiative focusing on Cloud Computing (see ‘Transcending the Cloud’ – Rimon Announces White Paper Series & Legal Initiative on Cloud Computing),showcased with a series of individual and topical white papers, in time being compiled into a comprehensive work entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.” As most of you know, this brave new world, with new providers, new economic models, new access plans, and broadened capabilities, has grown, and over the past year we have released nine individual white papers, with more on the horizon and updates to existing papers as the legal and technology environments evolve. One of the first in our series was a paper on the state tax implications of cloud computing entitled: “Pennies From Heaven.”

Just letting you know our State Tax Practice is hosting a Rimon teleseminar on recent developments in state taxation on the subject, and you can view the invitation and sign up through the registration link on the invitation. Just head to: “Clouds, Codes and Crunching Numbers: An Update on Current State Multi-State Tax Development and Trends in the Taxation of Electronic Goods and Services” and sign up today!

Of course, make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information; and if you have any questions about our Cloud Computing initiative or need help, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work. We are happy to help.

Let’s be Frank! Actually, Let’s Be Dodd-Frank. Can You Hear Me Now?

Financial institutions need to worry about Dodd-Frank (the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act). After all, “Wall Street,” “Reform” and “Consumer Protection” don’t exactly conjure up images of phone, gas and electric lines being inspected and regulated by auditors wearing suits and carrying briefcases.

If you have been a loyal Legal Bytes reader, you probably know the next line:

Well guess what?

A section of the Dodd-Frank Act amended a section of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”). The amendment, which becomes effective today, July 21, 2011, requires that anyone who issues a risk-based pricing notice to a consumer (a notice required when a credit report and credit score are used in connection with the extension of credit to a consumer) must now include the applicant’s credit score directly in or with the notice. So when a company sends you a notice under the FCRA in order to comply with the requirements of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), it needs to tell consumers it has used a credit report, “a record of your credit history” and “information about whether you pay your bills on time and how much you owe creditors.”

Public utilities, telecommunications companies and many others use credit scoring models, and even though these may not be based on your general credit history, the FTC is now taking the position that these companies are subject to the provisions of Dodd-Frank, and credit scores must be disclosed to the consumer.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Read the entire Rimon Client Alert [PDF] authored by our experts: Roberta G. Torian in Philadelphia, Robert M. Jaworski in Princeton and Mark F. Oesterle in Washington, D.C. Then you will see how really complicated it is and can call them for help.

Of course, you can always contact me or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work, if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance.

Useless But Compelling Facts – July 2011

We are trying to make this a bit more difficult, so bear with me.

Now, suppose you were visiting the village of Pueblito de Allende in the State of Chihuahua in Mexico, and went out for dinner with some friends February 7, 1969. Suppose you finished up a leisurely meal after 1 a.m. and thought about going back home from the restaurant. What might have made you reconsider and stay indoors?

As an added treat, we are offering a bonus question for you serious UBCF fans. So tell me, what’s so special about July 12, 2011? Now, when we say Legal Bytes is global, that’s just peanuts compared with something that is universal, or at least is a happening event in our Solar System – and that’s the only hint you’ll get.

ICONfusion Creeps Into Interactive Advertising Awareness

Earlier this week, ClickZ reported that the improper use of the Digital Advertising Alliance’s behavioral icon

is threatening to dilute the self-regulatory effectiveness of its campaign to educate consumers on the risks of online behavioral advertising, and enable them to make an informed judgment in seeking to control the use of their browsing behavior across multiple websites. Legal Bytes has previously reported the initial development and launch, as well as the growing acceptance of the industry’s self-regulatory efforts (just search us for “behavioral advertising” or follow the links through any of our prior posts – e.g., Self-Regulatory Ad Industry Effort Continues to Drive Forward). While the icon has gained wide acceptance as part of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory initiative (See Advertising Industry Collaboration Releases Self-Regulatory Online Behavioral Advertising Principles), using it inappropriately or inaccurately may cause consumers to be more confused, rather than educated.

You might be tempted to argue that if advertising that does not involve behavioral information nonetheless includes the DAA icon, what’s the harm? However, if the objective is to educate consumers about the distinctions in how their information is collected and used by advertisers, agencies, network publishers, browser publishers and others in the interactive ecosystem, confusion fuels the concerns already raised by consumer advocacy groups, regulators and lawmakers alike – and that’s counterproductive.

The good news is that the industry campaign to stimulate adoption of the self-regulatory guidelines and the inclusion of the icon in relevant advertising is gaining momentum – a sign the industry can and will police and regulate itself. Innocent mistakes in the name of compliance are certainly better than abuse or ignorance, so let’s not be too quick to throw stones. That said, as consumers increasingly see the icon and begin to appreciate, and take advantage of, the self-regulatory efforts, it behooves the industry to do a better job of making sure the educational component is consistent and not ICONfusing!

As always, if you need more information about the advertising industry’s self-regulatory initiative, advice regarding compliance, or legal help in understanding the dynamic and ever-changing environment of online and mobile interactive advertising, marketing and privacy, call me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon attorneys with whom you regularly work – our lawyers deal with these issues every day.