The Federal Government Needs to Embrace Open Standards

Posted by Brian Paget, Technical Director for Public Sector

As a long-standing supporter of the open source community, Adobe welcomes the OMB’s new draft policy on the federal government’s use of open source software. The long-rumored policy, known as the Federal Source Code Policy – Achieving Efficiency, Transparency and Innovation through Reusable and Open Source Software, reminds us of the importance of understanding the different roles of open source and proprietary software in the federal government’s overall IT strategy.

In a mature IT governance structure, proprietary, open source and mixed source technologies each play an important role for the federal government. Balancing the use of these differing technologies is critical for the successful deployment of software across the federal government enterprise. Swinging the pendulum too far in one direction or the other based upon ideology rather than program requirements is detrimental to the health of government IT programs.

Adobe believes strongly that open source, open development and open standards play a critical role in fostering innovation and aims to build products that are open and standards compliant. Adobe developers also contribute to a number of open projects and standards. Dr. Roy Fielding, Senior Principal Scientist at Adobe and co-founder of the Apache HTTP Server Project, is a pioneer in the open source community and has consulted with the U.S. Government about the development of the modern World Wide Web infrastructure, innovation, policy and a wide-range of technology issues. In February, Adobe also released the Digital Design Templates for Government, an open source package that enables public sector website managers to quickly deploy U.S. Digital Service and 18F draft U.S. Web Design Standards.

At its core, the proposed OMB policy aims to ensure that the government gets the most cost effective solution to a specific requirement by addressing custom source code developed for the federal government, either in-house or via a contractor. It states that such custom code should be heavily invested in open source. At Adobe, we support the goals of this policy and believe that it will assist government in saving taxpayer money by more effectively leveraging the investment that is made in customizing and configuring software and reducing duplication.

However, beyond open source, the important principles of open development and open standards must be rigorously applied. The bundling of open source software with open standards and open API’s ensures data transparency, portability and interoperability. Open standards ensure that software developed by one vendor can effectively interoperate with software developed by a government agency or another software vendor. This enables a level of interoperability that is critical to successful deployment of software in government and provides assurances beyond those provided by open source.

Federal CIO leadership must understand that open standards are needed to fully realize the potential of cloud and increase competition among providers of cloud technologies, helping to reduce vendor and technology ecosystem lock-in. Over time, this will lead to increased choice and lower prices for consumers.

Patent Reform Is within Grasp

Posted by Dana Rao, Vice President of Intellectual Property and Litigation

Note: This op-ed first appeared in The Hill on March 8, 2016

Adobe Stock Image

The numbers are in.  And they aren’t good. Patent trolls filed 3,604 suits in 2015, making it the second busiest year on record for abusive patent litigation.  And if anyone had any doubt about the merit of these suits, the busiest filing day last year, by far, came one day before a court rule permitting vague complaints was set to expire.  A record 212 patent infringement lawsuits were filed on November 30. That is nearly 18 times as many as a normal day. What kind of patent holder would scramble to file a suit to take advantage of this rule? A patent holder who knew their suit had no merit.

These recent numbers reveal that court decisions and rule changes do not discourage abuse of our patent system. In the current system, trolls continue to bring frivolous suits in sympathetic courtrooms around the country. Only legislation will change these dynamics.

Trolls are not just targeting large innovators like Adobe for a quick payoff. They continue to go after small businesses that use our products.  While companies like Adobe can continue to stand firm and not settle frivolous lawsuits based on invalid or clearly non-applicable patents, too many small businesses are forced to settle. America’s innovators cannot stem the tide of this parasitic business model without help. The patent system is overrun with trolls, and it is time to root them out.

Adobe supports a patent system for the 21st century that protects innovators. The best way to achieve that is passing patent reform legislation that contains four essential elements for solving the troll problem: shifting fees if suits are frivolously brought, limiting the defendants’ exposure to unnecessary discovery costs, establishing clear rules for pre-suit investigation before forcing the defendants to engage in a multi-million dollar defense of their property, and venue reform to ensure that forum shopping becomes a thing of the past.

These principles will rebalance the system to make patents a reward for true innovation.  Real insight plus hard work can secure valuable intellectual property, investment and long-term business success. But the misuse of the litigation system to extort settlements from defendants who cannot afford the high cost of defense has tainted the good name of patents.

Congress has a clear mandate to act, and act swiftly. The debates are over, the hearings are complete, and the language has been crafted.  Let’s put together the final package and take this to a vote.  We don’t need any more time, evidence, or data.  Patent abuse has to stop.  If you are interested in being part of the solution, the coalition United for Patent Reform will welcome your participation and needs your voice.  We only have a limited amount of time in this legislative year, so the time for the final push is now.  Please join us.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Posted by John Jolliffe, Head of EMEA Government Relations

Late in 2015, EU legislators reached an agreement on a new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), updating the existing EU Directive which dates from 1994. The new text will come into effect sometime in mid-2018.

A lot has been written about what’s in the new Regulation. (See useful summaries here from Bird&Bird and Hunton & Williams). But while there are important changes on many substantive questions (for example the definition of personal data) there are perhaps even more significant changes in the way EU data protection law will be governed and enforced going forward.

Consider the status quo: Article 29 of the current EU Directive established a Working Party (WP) of national supervisory authorities with “advisory status” to, among other things, “make recommendations on all matters relating to the protection of persons with regard to the processing of personal data in the Community.” The Working Party has fully exploited this prerogative down the years by issuing a series of Opinions on points of law which, while technically non-binding, carry enormous weight and which data controllers ignore at their peril. In doing so the WP emerged as a leading player in the interpretation of EU data protection law, and became one of the most active advocates in the recent negotiations on the new GDPR.

Under the new GDPR, the Article 29 Working Party will be renamed the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). Its Opinions will no longer be merely “advisory” but will be binding on data controllers and national supervisory authorities. Its sole mandate will be to “ensure the consistent application of this Regulation”, with the power to issue a series of “opinions, guidelines, recommendations, and best practices”.

Of course, a body able to ensure consistent application of law is a must and will hopefully provide clarity for both citizens and the companies that serve them. But it should be remembered that not only are EDPB Opinions to be binding on data controllers – and therefore only challenged before a court – but they are linked to significant new powers to fine companies and halt data processing. What’s more, the deliberations of the EDPB (as with its predecessor the Art 29 WP) are likely to be held in camera, with little outside consultation with the technical experts of the companies that they oversee.

While the GDPR does state that the EDPB should “consult interested parties”, the law is silent on how this consultation should be established, how extensive it needs to be and how frequent, leaving the whole question to the discretion of the Board. Given that the current Article 29 WP is not notably dialogue inclined, and given the presumption that all EDPB deliberations will be internal, legitimate questions can be asked about the Board’s willingness to access relevant expertise or entertain outside ideas. It matters a great deal to companies like Adobe how the EDPB will interpret new concepts like “imbalance” between consenting parties, or where it will draw the line on “risky processing”, what it will consider to be a “compelling legitimate interest” for a controller to override a data subject’s objection. Will companies’ voices be adequately heard?

We hope so. But the limited mandate of the EDPB – whereby it is bound to consider only matters relating to the interpretation of data protection law to the exclusion of other highly relevant factors such as the economic impact of their decisions – risks being too narrow. Data processing and data protection are not just a part of the economy, they ARE the modern economy and cannot be examined in isolation.

In short, the EDPB will have enormous influence over the EU economy. We hope it exercises this power responsibly and with the utmost consideration for the world beyond the one outlined in its official mandate.

The Future of Our Digital World: Why You Should Care about the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy

Posted by John Jolliffe, Head of EMEA Government Relations

“A Digital Single Market is one in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured and where individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities under conditions of fair competition, and a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence.”

Launched amid much fanfare in May 2015, the Digital Single Market Strategy laid out the European Commission’s vision for digitally driven economic growth in the EU. As someone who has worked on technology policy issues for over 13 years in Brussels and other European capitals, it’s reassuring to see the EU at last recognise that “(ICT) is no longer a specific sector but the foundation of all modern innovative economic systems.”

But the idea that “Achieving a Digital Single Market will ensure that Europe maintains its position as a world leader in the digital economy, helping European companies to grow globally” reveals a deep-rooted inward-looking mindset which, if not carefully monitored, risks undermining the DSM’s ability to enhance Europe’s international competitiveness.

In the end, what’s missing is any sense of the connectedness and dependence of the European economy on the rest of the world. The implicit message from the European Commission is clear: if only we can get our house in order, the EU can lead the global economy.

This feels like political wishful thinking. And studies such as the recent work by Erik Van der Marel from Brussels-based economy think tank ECIPE on “The Importance of Complementary Policy for ICT in the EU” confirm that things are a little more complicated. In his well-written analysis of the impact of the software industry on the EU economy, he points out the clear inter-connectedness of the European economy with the rest of the world. It’s a timely contribution that puts the DSM strategy into a wider international trade context, and makes clear that if “digital” is really to generate, as the Commission claims, “up to EUR 250 billion of additional growth in Europe,” then it will need to maintain a global mindset.

Van der Marel reminds us that an economy is like a machine, with inputs and outputs. In an era of global supply chains all economic actors big and small need access to software and a policy framework that enables them to use it if they are to increase productivity and add economic value. “Policy rigidities slow down the endorsement and therefore the use of new technologies of ICT in the wider downstream economy.” He cites a number of complementary policies that can hinder use of technology and, by extension, European competitiveness: labour market policies, IPR protection, product market regulations, and restrictions on the free international flow of data. The entire DSM programme and related policies – from geoblocking and digital signatures to copyright reform and data protection – can be linked to one of those broad categories. But, as the grueling debates over data protection and Safe Harbour have shown, that sense of inter-connectedness is often in short supply.

Will the DSM Strategy help the EU address these important challenges of international competitiveness? We are about to find out. The first formal legislative proposals were published just before the Christmas break, and will enable us to begin to take the real measure of the DSM strategy. Another 14 new pieces of legislation are expected by the end of this year. It’s our hope that in attempting to remove barriers within an EU internal market – a very worthwhile objective – it doesn’t create new policy rigidities, or lose sight of the inherent interconnectedness of the global economy. We’ll be looking at some of those proposals in future blog posts, starting with the Commission’s proposed new contractual regime for the supply of digital content.

American Innovators Deserve a Modern Copyright System

Posted by J. Scott Evans, Trademark Director and Associate General Counsel

Tech advancements are changing the way content is managed and distributed for nearly every purpose, but the U.S. Copyright Office has fallen behind. As someone who has worked on trademark and copyright issues for over two decades, I recognize the necessity of modernizing the copyright system in the United States.

Getting new copyrights registered and finding information about existing copyrights is not easy, and can become a major obstacle for those looking to create and protect their intellectual property without infringing on someone else’s. Given the Copyright Office’s importance to the creative process, the current copyright system does not do justice to the community it serves.

With citizens now accustomed to accessing content anytime and from anywhere, historic distribution models are no longer serviceable. Although the Copyright Office is currently undergoing a digitization project, the effort needs to go further. Rather than just merging the newly digitized data into the existing record system, the information should be repurposed into a more modern, easy-to-use database.

The current system is so difficult to use that it discourages people from using it at all, leading to many hours spent in courtrooms for those who have inadvertently misused copyrighted material. Making an investment now in a modernized copyright system with a better user experience would save a huge amount of time and money that is currently spent on avoidable legal issues.

One of the basic reasons to have a copyright system in the first place is to prevent these legal conflicts. If the Copyright Office had a robust and innovative operations system, that supports the legal system already in place, people would use it. At this point, too many people don’t even know the search system exists, much less how best to use it. Ideally, the Copyright Office should adopt a modern, cloud-based system with a simplified search process.

It would be worth the front-end cost to establish a new system for the improved user experience alone, but this issue goes deeper than that. Modernizing the Copyright Office is about equipping the next generation to protect their intellectual property.

And on a global level, for the United States to be a world leader in innovation, we need a world-class copyright system to foster the necessary creative environment. The Copyright Office needs to follow the lead of other offices that manage rights protection systems like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the EU trademark office (OHIM) that both have robust and efficient databases and tools to assist their users. If the U.S. Copyright Office doesn’t modernize, it could seriously jeopardize future creative leadership because there is no system at this point that works efficiently for the creative community.

Apart from the ongoing debate over whether or not the Copyright Office should move out from under the jurisdiction of the Library of Congress, the system is long overdue for an update. It is also time for Congress to revisit the Copyright Act and make the revisions necessary to bring the U.S. copyright law in line with current technological innovation. Government organizations have an obligation to adequately meet the needs of the modern citizens they serve, and the current copyright system simply doesn’t meet citizens’ needs.

ICANN Accountability Progress Made in Second CCWG Draft Proposal

Posted by J. Scott Evans, Trademark Director and Associate General Counsel

Note: This article also appeared in CircleID on December 18, 2015

internet communication world wide

The December 21 deadline for submission of public comments on the latest Cross Community Working Group (CCWG)-Accountability draft proposal is quickly approaching. In this second draft of the proposal, great strides have been made toward addressing the accountability issues that members of the community have raised (notably, Lawrence Strickling’s recent remarks).

As I have previously emphasized, any plan to ensure the accountability of the ICANN Board of Directors must be closely scrutinized before the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) pursues its implementation. Now that the CCWG-Accountability has incorporated so many of the public’s suggestions, it’s time for the community to take a more detailed look at the proposal.

The current version offers many new specifics: it gives additional powers to the stakeholder community and presents a new model for many of the processes involved in ensuring accountability. For example, under the latest proposal, the community would have the right to approve any changes to fundamental ICANN bylaws, by way of a thorough 9-step process rooted in ensuring consensus. Careful considerations have been made to ensure that the system is effective and as efficient as possible, while preventing abuse of power.

However, one potential area of concern to business interests is recommendation 11. Under this proposed change to ICANN bylaws, any rejection of Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice that has been reached by consensus would require two-thirds of the ICANN Board to vote against the proposal. The definition of “consensus” in this case is “understood to be the practice of adopting decisions by general agreement in the absence of any formal objection.” Business interests must make it clear that consensus must not be defined as a simple majority, but must remain general agreement without substantial opposition.

We encourage the ICANN Board to accept the next CCWG-Accountability proposal. Some of the measures proposed represent significant changes, but given the entrepreneurial spirit of the Internet itself, the means by which it is managed should be innovative. In the event that the ICANN Board does not accept this proposal, we suggest an international, third-party mediator be brought in to work with the Board and representatives of the CCWG to find a resolution.

It is also important for the community to keep in mind that there is no need to rush this process. Although deadlines have been suggested for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transfer, above all, it is most important that we get this right.

Education for the Next Generation

Posted by Johann Zimmern, Head of Enterprise Business – World Wide Education

Child Little Boy in Glasses Reading Book over School Black Board with Chalk Drawing, Kids Preschool Development, Children Education Concept

For a student starting kindergarten today, the world will be a vastly different place when he or she joins the workforce a decade and a half from now. It’s estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor that 65% of school-aged children will work in careers that do not exist today. The curriculum being taught in many schools throughout the United States is unfortunately not aligned with the skills needed in an increasingly digital economy. We want to ensure that future generations remain competitive in the global economy, and today far too many graduates enter the workforce without sufficient exposure to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) skills that help foster innovation and creativity.

Given the importance of enabling the next generation of Americans to develop a comprehensive STEAM skillset to succeed in decades to come, I am thrilled that after 14 years, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives have taken steps to improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by passing S.1177 the Every Student Succeeds Act. Without the hard work and persistence of Chairmen Lamar Alexander and John Kline and Ranking Members Patty Murray and Robert C. Scott, our nation’s students would not have access to vital programs, and we applaud their efforts.

Among these programs is a provision to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and computer science education, both inside and outside the classroom. This will provide students who are members of underrepresented groups within STEM fields additional access to STEM programs. The legislation will also promote digital, blended learning initiatives in the K-12 classroom, and a focus on professional development while addressing the crucial needs for the educators and school officials to ensure the technology is being put to good use. All of these programs are significant improvements to our K-12 education system.

Today’s knowledge-based economy requires our students to have sufficient access to STEM education and education technology. When combined with an education system that promotes creativity and innovation alongside the development of more technical STEM skills, we will be well on our way to providing a robust learning environment for the next generation.

Leading the Way to a Low-Carbon, Sustainable Future

Posted by Mike Dillon, SVP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

As seen on the Adobe Conversations blog.

Adobe Logo

Sustainability at Adobe has been hardwired from the beginning, going back to our invention of the PDF almost 25 years ago. It marked the beginning of a paperless office, dramatically reducing the need to print documents. Today, PDF is at the heart of Adobe Document Cloud, making the process of managing, signing, and storing documents 100% digital. No paper required!

Adobe’s holistic approach to conserving resources involves our employees and operations, customers and products, and the communities where we work and live. Our guiding principles are:

  • Create healthy and innovative work environments
  • Enable our customers to become more sustainable through the use of our products
  • Reduce operational costs and increase productivity through resource conservation and waste reduction
  • Provide opportunities for employees to get involved in environmental efforts at home and in the community

Today, we are joining RE100 and announcing our commitment to The White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge.

As a part of these actions, we are committing to five ambitious goals that will help contribute to a low-carbon, sustainable future:

  1. Energy:   70% of Adobe’s global workplaces are LEED certified. In the past five years we’ve dramatically lowered our energy consumption and emissions, achieving carbon neutrality in 2013 with minimal use of renewable energy credits. But this is simply not good enough. Adobe is committed to helping move the market and demonstrating that renewable energy is good business. So we’ve taken the aggressive, long-term goal of powering our operations and the digital delivery of our products entirely with 100% renewable electricity by 2035.
  2. Water:  Universal access to clean water is more threatened than ever, and several of our largest sites are vulnerable to prolonged droughts due to climate change. Since 2010, we’ve reduced overall water consumption by more than 60 percent, and will continue to drive conservation across the company.
  3. Waste: Adobe diverts more than 97% of its waste from major sites in North America. We apply these best practices to our other locations around the world to minimize waste and divert what is left away from landfill.
  4. Collaboration:  We work openly with other companies, communities and non-governmental organizations to share and adopt sustainability best practices.
  5. Products:  We are a leader in developing software (and digital delivery of software) that helps our company and our customers consume fewer natural resources. Even with 30+ years of innovation in this space, we know we’ve just scratched the surface.

COP21 in Paris next week will be a critical milestone toward a global commitment to stopping climate change. According to the CDP 2015 Global Climate Change Report release last week, “a successful Paris agreement would set the world on course for a goal of net zero emissions by the end of this century.” Adobe is proud to be one of the companies leading the way.

To learn more about sustainability at Adobe, visit Adobe.com. View our latest corporate responsibility report and our 2015 CDP submission here.

EU Trusted List Now Available in Adobe Acrobat!

Posted by John Jolliffe, European Government Relations Lead, and Andrea Valle, Senior Product Manager for Document Cloud

Note: This post first appeared on the Adobe Document Cloud blog.

Adobe’s recent announcement that it would be supporting EU Trust Lists within Acrobat and Acrobat Reader may not have made many headlines in policy circles, but it certainly deserves some attention as a significant contribution from the private sector to the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy.

The EU adopted its new Regulation on Electronic identification (eID) and electronic Trust Services in July 2014, with the aim of creating a predictable legal framework for “Trust Services” including electronic signatures.  But new rules alone can’t compel the creation of a more integrated single market. It is the actions that companies like Adobe take to implement new laws and their supporting standards into their services that give those laws their real world effect.

Adobe is delighted to announce the completion of our work to support and integrate the EU Trusted Lists (EUTL) into Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader. For the first time, citizens, governments and businesses across the world will have easy access to electronically signed documents based on EU qualified certificates in the ubiquitous Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader software.

The new EU Regulation 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (eIDAS) will soon harmonize electronic signatures and identification of citizens and business. This new law will completely replace the individual signature legislation existing in all the EU member states by July 1, 2016.

Following the approval of the law on July 2014, Adobe has been working on the integration of the EUTL in Acrobat – as previously discussed in this blog post – and has released the feature in versions DC and XI. In these releases, you may have noticed a new user preference to manage the download of the European trusted list and its automatic update.

We have now published online the EUTL, which combines the certificates from the trusted lists published by the 28 EU Member States and 3 EEA Countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). Therefore, from now on, users of Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader can automatically validate digital signatures based on qualified certificates issued in Europe, and apply their own signatures knowing that the recipients can easily perform the validation.

Adobe has been a long-time supporter of digital signature technologies as a means of conducting secure transactions via electronic documents, and we are proud to be the first major software vendor to incorporate the EU Trusted Lists into globally available solutions.

The ability to sign and verify electronic documents in the standard PDF format with the ubiquitous Adobe Acrobat Reader software is a significant contribution to the creation of a connected digital single market in the European Union, one of the ten priorities from the President Jean-Claude Juncker.

ICANN Accountability Takes Center Stage at Dublin Meeting

Posted by J. Scott Evans, Trademark Director and Associate General Counsel

Note: This article first appeared in CircleID on October 19, 2015

With the ICANN 54 meeting in Dublin in full swing, the internet stakeholder community should be assessing where the IANA transition and ICANN accountability proposals stand and where they will need to go before a transition occurs.

At the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group meeting in Los Angeles last month, the consensus seemed to be all systems are go for launch. The responses received during the public comment period that ended September 8th largely expressed support for the transition proposal to advance as planned. As for the accountability proposal, less unanimity seems to exist around the measures outlined by the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG). Adobe commends the CCWG for its continued efforts to build a strong framework for governing the post-transition internet, but there are still key details that need to be addressed this week in Dublin.

The CCWG needs to clarify details to create a better understanding as to how the proposal will work. As NTIA Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling pointed out in a recent blog post, there are not enough details in the current accountability proposal for NTIA to determine if it meets the necessary criteria outlined by the administration when the process started more than a year ago. Strickling writes, “The questions asked by stakeholders in the public comments demonstrate significant confusion and uncertainty as to exactly how portions of the plan would be operationalized and some apprehension as to whether all possible consequences of this proposal have been fully thought through.”

Adobe believes ICANN accountability is crucial to ensure that a safe and open internet endures once NTIA has stepped aside. To ensure this happens, certain powers should be enshrined in ICANN’s bylaws before the IANA transition occurs. The stakeholder community needs the power to independently review ICANN board decisions, reject budgets and strategic plans, approve changes to bylaws, and recall individual board members – or the entire board if necessary. These reforms will ensure the internet remains a secure place to conduct business and share ideas.

Adobe urges the CCWG to carefully review the comments submitted by the Business Constituency and others to address these concerns. The comment period needs to be viewed as the beginning of a new stakeholder engagement process – not the end. Everyone who uses the internet has a stake in this endeavor, and should be part of the process. There is no need for the CCWG to rush the process. NTIA’s decision to renew the IANA contract for another year has given the multi-stakeholder community time for a thorough debate. We should take our time because we only have one shot at getting this right.