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.

CalECPA Pushes Electronic Privacy Rights into Spotlight: Congressional Action Needed

Posted by Mary Catherine Wirth, Associate General Counsel, Director – Privacy, Trust & Safety

Californians took a major step forward on privacy rights today as Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA, SB 178). The bill protects information stored on smart phones, tablets, laptops, servers, and other digital devices from warrantless searches by law enforcement, while providing prudent exceptions for emergencies and public safety.

The bipartisan bill passed the state assembly on September 8, 2015 by a 56-11 vote. Backed by numerous technology companies, including Adobe, CalECPA requires law enforcement to meet the same standard – i.e., a warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause – for accessing a user’s information stored online as for documents or photos they store at home or at work. This commonsense reform protects the Fourth Amendment rights of Californians and should serve as a template for legislative action in Washington, D.C.

Adobe would like to thank the bill’s cosponsors Senators Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) for spearheading this effort. Their bipartisan efforts show how legislators can work across the aisle to help their constituents, protect constitutional rights, and solve problems.

While this represents real progress in the nation’s largest state, our country’s privacy laws remain stuck in a bygone era. Congress originally passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) almost 30 years ago, long before most of us used email, the internet, or cloud storage. ECPA was a forward-looking law when it was passed back in 1986, but it included an outdated loophole that makes it easier for law enforcement entities to gain access to your email than a physical letter in your mailbox. For example, the law considers email older than 180 days to be “abandoned” and allows the government to gain access to those emails without a warrant.

Both the House and the Senate have introduced ECPA reform measures – in fact, the House has introduced two bills. Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699), which currently has 300 co-sponsors, and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) introduced the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act (H.R. 283) earlier this year. In the Senate, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a companion bill (S. 356) that is identical to the Salmon measure.

Hopefully, this action by California lawmakers will jumpstart a much needed debate in Washington on electronic privacy. Adobe will continue to work with its partners in the Digital Due Process Coalition to ensure lawmakers pass a comprehensive ECPA reform this Congress. Adobe believes that customer data stored online deserves the same protections as data stored at home or at work, and that full Fourth Amendment protections are essential to consumers trusting that their information is safe. Without trust, cloud computing can never realize its full potential.


ICANN 53 – Guaranteeing Accountability in Internet Governance

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

I recently attended the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) 53rd meeting in Buenos Aires to further discuss the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) transition process. During the meeting, public and private Internet stakeholders made important strides on a transition timeline, accountability planning and future management of the Internet that supports global creativity and innovation.

For the first time publicly, ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehadé laid out an estimated timeline starting with both transition and accountability plans to be delivered to ICANN for approval on or before October’s meeting in Dublin. ICANN’s Board of Directors will review the plans before sending them forward to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for their approval. The NTIA review process will likely take four to five months, with Congress having 30 legislative days to consider the proposal as required by the DOTCOM Act passed by the House and currently under consideration by the Senate. This timeline implies that the earliest the transition will take place is June or July of 2016. This reality will require the NTIA to extend its contract with ICANN, which currently is set to expire September 30, 2015. While testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on July 8, NTIA Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Stickling confirmed that the contract will have to be extended, giving additional credibility to the timeline outlined by Chehadé. These signals of a concrete timeline are the first step to ensure the IANA transition is handled properly with the necessary accountability measures in place.

In fact, the majority of ICANN-53 meeting was dedicated to discussing accountability of the ICANN Board of Directors, an issue that Stickling emphasized in a recent blog post. The initial draft proposal to improve ICANN’s accountability was issued for public comment on May 4, 2015. This proposal recommends turning ICANN into a member-based organization where all supporting organizations and advisory councils would become voting members — if they choose to do so. This would create a voting structure and, as a last resort, provide members with the option of taking legal action against the ICANN board if they were not serving in the best interest of its stakeholders. This voting-member plan is one way to hold the Board accountable, but it needs to be heavily scrutinized before ICANN pursues its implementation. This mechanism, or really any mechanism, agreed upon to ensure accountability is crucial to enforcing laws and safeguarding business, but needs to be the right course of action. Agreement for the sake of agreement will do no good if the mechanism isn’t right.

Another item discussed extensively was private sector management of the Internet. Allowing industry, academics, end users and others outside government to manage the Internet is the future. This evolution of ICANN is not an aberration, but an idea that has been baked into the plan all along. Stakeholders have to be invested in the plan just as much as they are in the agreement, or else all the work we have been doing will have little effect. Although Adobe is not a voting member of the working groups developing the plan on how the transition will take place, we support it and believe that a private sector led, multi-stakeholder model is the ideal. We support what needs to happen and why it needs to happen, but it’s the multi-stakeholder community’s responsibility to decide on how it will happen.

We at Adobe believe that accountability plays a crucial role in the IANA transition and sets it up to function properly — a position outlined in our recent blog post. There’s a community beyond the ICANN insiders, ICANN board members and government officials that have a stake in this endeavor, and they need to be a part of this process. Under the current project plan, the final proposal for accountability mechanisms is set to issue for public comment in August. We urge members of the business community to carefully review this proposal and provide feedback during the public comment period. This will allow for adjustments based on public concerns and produce a stronger plan for ICANN accountability. It’s my hope that as we move along in this process, private sector stakeholders will provide input and analysis during the final public comment period. All industries affected by these petitions need to be actively engaged so that their interests are reflected, or we risk mismanagement of society’s most powerful tool.

SAFECode Goes to Washington

Posted by David Lenoe, Director of Adobe Secure Software Engineering and SAFECode Board Member

On a recent trip to Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to participate in a series of meetings with policymakers on Capitol Hill and in the Administration to discuss SAFECode’s  (Software Assurance Forum for Excellence in Code) role in and commitment to improving software security.  If you’re not familiar with SAFECode, I encourage you to visit the SAFECode website to learn more about the organization. At a high level, SAFECode advances effective software assurance methods, and identifies and promotes best practices for developing and delivering more secure and reliable software, hardware, and services in an industry-led effort.

The visit to DC was set up to promote some of the work being done across our industry to analyze, apply, and promote the best mix of software assurance technology, process, and training. Along with some of my colleagues from EMC and CA Technologies, we spent the beginning of the trip at the Software and Supply Chain Assurance Working Group, where we presented on the topic of software assurance assessment. The premise of our presentation was that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to software assurance, and that a focus on the supplier’s software assurance process is the right way to assess the maturity of an organization when it comes to software security.

One of the other important aspects we discussed with policymakers was SAFECode’s role in promoting the need for security education and training for developers. We are considering ways to support the expansion of software security education in university programs and plan to add new offerings to the SAFECode Security Engineering training curriculum, a free program aimed at helping those looking to create an in-house training program for their product development teams as well as individuals interested in enhancing their skills.

Overall, this was a very productive trip, and we look forward to working with policymakers as they tackle some of the toughest software security issues we are facing today.

David Lenoe West Wing

National ESIGN Day: Just What the Doctor Ordered

Posted by Dan Puterbaugh, Director, Associate General Counsel

We all know that paper can hurt. With electronic signature services and Adobe Document Cloud, we help you save time and money – and hopefully prevent a few paper cuts along the way. Today we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the ESIGN Act, which made e-signatures legal and enforceable in the United States.

To celebrate National ESIGN Day we took to the streets of Washington D.C., handing out bandages to those suffering from paper-related injuries. Not surprising, government workers in D.C. regularly experience paper cuts while wrestling mountains of documents each day. Take a look at how we fought back, one bandage at a time:

Since being signed, the ESIGN Act has done more than just reduce the number of paper cuts. The goal of the Adobe Document Cloud is to optimize and simplify the document-signing process as I outlined in my previous post on the public policy blog.

One of the Document Cloud’s long-term goals is to revolutionize manual public sector processes. The ESIGN Act enabled this goal 15 years ago, and today we continue working to bring all your documents to digital. In the meantime, we’re happy to offer some paper cut relief.

Bravo, Burbank Elementary School!

Posted by Emily Simas, Adobe & ConnectED (originally on the Adobe Education blog)

Take a bow, Burbank. You deserve a big round of applause.

Beginning in fall 2014, the students and teachers at Burbank Elementary School in Hayward, CA, embarked on a new and ambitious program to integrate arts across the curriculum. It’s a natural fit for a school community whose mission includes cultivating and cherishing “an environment that supports the academic, social-emotional, creative and civic learning” of all students.

After studying the artwork of Pop artist Andy Warhol, fifth and sixth grade students made artwork inspired by his creations. Students were prompted to find images that represent contemporary pop culture, and then to use Adobe Photoshop Elements to create their own Warhol-inspired work. They learned how to manipulate various Photoshop Elements tools to crop, select, paint and fill select areas of their work with contrast colors.


by Chloe, Grade 6

In another project, students used Photoshop Elements to create typographical portraits of people and characters they researched in class. Each student learned how to create brushes from words related to their subject matter. They found images of their subject matter and applied filters to convert the images to black-and-white. Then they isolated the black areas and replaced them with the new typographic brushes they’d created. The finished pieces are portraits constructed from typography.

by Maylin, Grade 5

by Maylin, Grade 5

These innovative art programs are the brainchild of Robert Hoang, who joined the Burbank team last year to teach visual arts to K–6 students, and to work with his colleagues to plan arts integration lessons. Hoang co-leads Burbank’s partnership with Turnaround Arts: California, a signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities that seeks to advance education in a select group of elementary and middle schools in the state. To support this work, Hoang secured a software donation from Adobe & ConnectED to help increase technological literacy for Burbank’s students by integrating digital media into the art curriculum.

Sixth grader shows actor Tim Robbins his project on Photoshop Elements as classmate works next to them during their visual arts class at Burbank Elementary School in Hayward, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.  (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)Sixth graders show actor Tim Robbins their projects in Photoshop Elements during their visual arts class. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group via San Jose Mercury News)

Adobe is a big fan of Burbank Elementary and Turnaround Arts, but we’re certainly not alone. Turnaround Arts matches each of its partner schools with a celebrity mentor. Earlier this year the students at Burbank enjoyed a visit from their mentor, the actor Tim Robbins.

The Burbank fan club also includes U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell, California Assemblymember Bill Quirk, Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday and several members of the Hayward Unified School Board. The group visited the school last week to gain a better understanding of Adobe’s public/private partnerships and get a first-hand look at the impact of the arts in the classroom. “The students and dedicated faculty at Burbank Elementary School have demonstrated the value of incorporating both the arts and technology into the classroom,” said Representative Swalwell. “Burbank Elementary students are developing creativity and technological skills that will empower them throughout their lives.”

“We are grateful to all the leaders who came out to support the teachers and students at Burbank, and we are honored to have the opportunity to partner with the dedicated professionals at Burbank and Turnaround Arts,” said Tacy Trowbridge, Adobe’s Worldwide Education Programs Group Manager. “Through partnerships like this, we can continue to support and encourage students to become confident digital creators and creative thinkers.”


U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell talks with students about their projects

Building on the success at Burbank, Adobe is expanding the ConnectED program in the Hayward Unified with the goal of getting free creativity and eLearning software and teacher training to all of the district’s Title I schools. If you know of a Title I school that could benefit from Adobe & ConnectED, please direct them to our website for more information.

Learn more about Burbank Elementary School, Adobe & ConnectED and Turnaround Arts.


As part of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, Adobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 

A Beautiful Day

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

Today, the Senate introduced the Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship (PATENT) Act of 2015. Everyone following this process understands that the PATENT Act isn’t just another patent reform bill. It is much more than that. It is a patent reform bill that stands a real chance of passing the Senate, it is bipartisan, and it contains very important provisions that should fundamentally improve the U.S. patent system. The original sponsor and cosponsors of this bill should be applauded for their efforts.

Nevertheless, there’s been a lot of talk about whether or not patent reform is still needed, whether the system is fixing itself, or whether bills like these will end society as we know it. Maybe too much talk. A quick review of the data: 2014 had the third highest number of patent lawsuits filed in history, and December 2014, January 2015, and February 2015 saw a year-over-year increase in patent litigation of 4%, 26%, and 10% respectively, with patent trolls comprising over half of the new suits filed.

And fee shifting, while occurring slightly more often than it used to, still isn’t happening enough. A few weeks ago, we had a case dismissed against us by a large patent troll. The troll had sued us, we believed we were licensed to the patent, the troll refused to turn over the critical documents that would prove it, and prolonged the litigation with us hoping we would give up and settle. On the eve of the hearing where the license defense would be heard, the troll dropped the case and walked away. After we spent over $1M dollars defending ourselves. We moved for fees, and the court said that since she didn’t get to hear the merits of the license defense, she could not award us fees. So the patent troll got away clean. This is just one example, our latest example, of a problem that has been plaguing our industry for years. It is time to take action.

The Senate bill will introduce much needed reforms to our system. And they are balanced reforms, reflecting over a year’s worth of multi-lateral stakeholder negotiation representing all types of users of the patent system. There is fee shifting to deter both plaintiffs and defendants from engaging in bad conduct or taking unreasonable positions, there is a recovery provision to ensure accountability from the investors who are profiting from abusive litigation, there is an enhanced pleading requirement to ensure due diligence is done before embarking on a multi-million dollar lawsuit, and there is a customer stay provision to ensure that the most appropriate parties are able to defend a case in the most economical way.   All of these provisions together will help to rehabilitate a creaky old patent system not designed for 21st century technologies and industries, and restore the good name of patents in our society.

Today’s introduction, on the back of the recent re-introduction of the Innovation Act in the House, may only be a first step on the path to a law. But it is a very important, long awaited, and long needed step. That’s why it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate. My thanks to all of those involved in this process, especially Senators Grassley, Leahy, Schumer, Cornyn, Hatch, Lee, and Klobuchar on the Senate side, and Chairman Goodlatte and Representatives Lofgren and Jeffries on the House side, for coming together in a bipartisan manner to move us forward on this important issue.

Achieving Accountability in Internet Governance

Posted by J. Scott Evans, Director, Trademark

Almost two decades ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was founded in the nascent days of the Internet to manage domain name registrations. Created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce, ICANN has evolved into a private sector entity, working with private sector stakeholders in the US and around the world to manage an otherwise unwieldy domain name process.

In March 2014, the Obama Administration announced its intention to transition some of ICANN’s Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) responsibilities by exploring the adoption of a new, private and global multi-stakeholder model for Internet governance and oversight.

This monumental change would have a direct effect on the long term preservation and successful growth of the Internet because IANA functions include the assignment of technical Internet protocol parameters which allow devices to properly connect and communicate with each other to perform various online activities such as website browsing, email and content storage. In February 2015, ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehadé testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to discuss ICANN’s latest IANA transition plans. In his opening remarks, Chehadé stated that ICANN was built on “the values of the American system” and provided “unequivocal assurance that whatever we do here must and will retain the values with which we started this endeavor.”

Though an exact proposal has yet to surface, critics of the general IANA transition plan cite growing fears about ensuring security and stability of the Internet under a new model where nations that may not embrace similar values could gain larger influence and control without proper checks and balances.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee shares this sentiment and opened the hearing by stating that without “U.S. involvement in the IANA functions, ICANN may be subject to capture by authoritarian regimes and these are valid concerns.” In addition, Sen. Thune raised the issue of accountability. “I will be interested to see whether the stakeholder community can deliver a proposal that allows Internet users to continue to have faith the IANA functions are carried out effectively and seamlessly, and I’ll focus on the adequacy of the accountability reforms in any proposal.”

There are also critical implications for business and brand reputation challenges that must be addressed. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Cybercriminals Are Misappropriating Businesses’ Web Addresses,” reported that domains of U.S. businesses have been targeted, hijacked and transferred to “such places as China, Eastern Europe and Russia in what appears to be ‘organized criminal activity.’”

Some look to ICANN to do more in an effort to monitor and prevent the illegal transfer of stolen domain names to registry holders abroad. According to Mr. Phillip Corwin of the Internet Commerce Association, “If they find there are bad registrars working with bad folks to facilitate domain hijacking,” taking steps to “put them out of business would send a very strong message.”

If ICANN is unable to step up to enforce laws and safeguard business from illicit international activity under the current model, how can they guarantee protections under a new, more complex one?

Regarding the critical nature of these proposals, Sen. Thune added, “The multi-stakeholder community has one opportunity to get this right because the Internet is too important for democracy, for world culture and the interconnected global economy to allow poor governance to jeopardize its future.”

Though Adobe understands that the creation of a new private sector led, multi-stakeholder institution to manage IANA functions is likely the best approach — there are still many questions that must be resolved. We look forward to reviewing the ICANN proposal as it becomes available in the coming months in anticipation of the September 2015 deadline.

Despite many differences among the stakeholders, we can all fundamentally agree that it is imperative for both the U.S. and world that we “get this right.”

Adobe and the Digital Due Process Coalition Urge House and Senate Majority Leaders to Bring ECPA Reform Bills to the Floor

Posted by Mary Catherine Wirth, Associate General Counsel, Cloud Services

In April 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Michael Lee (R-Utah) and known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) Amendments Act of 2013 (S. 607) to the full Senate. At that time, we applauded this important milestone towards protecting the privacy of information stored “in the cloud.” Unfortunately, despite widespread bipartisan and tech industry support, seventeen months later, S. 607 has not yet been brought to the Senate floor.

An identical bipartisan bill in the House sponsored by Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas) and Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and known as the “Email Privacy Act” (H.R. 1852) likewise remains stalled — even though it is co-sponsored by over 260 members of the House (and a majority of the house majority).

This is why Adobe and other members of the Digital Due Process Coalition this week sent letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, urging them to bring S. 607 and HR. 1852 to the Senate and House floors. You can read those letters here and here.

Both bills share a common and very important goal: amending ECPA so that the government may only access communications stored online when a search warrant has been issued by a judge upon a showing of probable cause.  The current version of ECPA was drafted in 1986, long before people stored so much of their personal information online, and gives Fourth Amendment protections only to some communications stored online and not to others.  Right now, communications stored online for more than 180 days become available to law enforcement and civil investigative agencies with only a court order or a subpoena (which are much easier to obtain than a search warrant) on the theory that they have been “abandoned.”  This may have made sense in 1986, but it does not make sense in 2014, when most of us store many years’ worth of private emails, photos and documents “in the cloud.”

At Adobe, we continue to believe that all of our customers’ private communications should receive full constitutional protections, regardless of whether they are stored at home, at work or in our cloud. This is why we hope to see the House and Senate take action on ECPA reform this year. We believe these bills would pass overwhelmingly, proving to Americans and the rest of the world that that the U.S. legal system values online privacy.  ECPA reform is critical to consumer and business confidence in adopting cloud services, and we will continue to work to help ensure these bills are signed into law.  More information, along with ways to show support for amending ECPA, is available on the Center for Democracy and Technology website.

Congressman Chris Stewart Visits Adobe Lehi

Posted by Brad Rencher, SVP and General Manager of Digital Marketing

On Wednesday, August 6, Adobe welcomed the newest member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Utah, Congressman Chris Stewart, to our Lehi building in Utah. Congressman Stewart represents a large number of Adobe’s employees living along the eastern half of the state. Congressman Stewart was accompanied by two of his congressional aides and his son during the visit. As Jonathan Francom and I showed the congressman around the beautiful Lehi facility, they talked about all kinds of issues and met with several employees at the site.

Blown away by what he saw at the Lehi campus, it is no surprise the Congressman asked about Adobe’s plans to grow even more jobs in the region and when he can expect to see the next building in the Adobe campus.

Some interesting facts about the congressman came out during his visit. Here are just a few. He authored a New York Times best-selling book; he graduated at the top of his class in officer and pilot training in the Air Force; and he holds three world speed records, including the world’s record for the fastest non-stop flight around the world. Impressive!

As part of Adobe’s ongoing efforts to interact with government officials around the world, we regularly host government officials from all levels of government at our facilities. We do so on a non-partisan and non-political basis with the hopes of fostering a healthy dialogue on issues which impact our employees, customers, and products in the global marketplace.

Congressman Stewart and his staff meet with Adobe employees

Congressman Stewart and his staff meet with Adobe employees