Cisco Systems, Inc.

CISCO GLOBAL GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS  Cisco’s corporate headquarters are in San Jose, California, USA, but we have extensive presence in London, England; Brussels, Belgium and Sydney, Australia as well as some presence in 72 other countries around the world.   Our international public policy agenda is in line with our global objectives:  empowering citizens, investing in knowledge, promoting innovation and accelerating the deployment of broadband.

Global Policy and Government Affairs  

The role of GPGA is to track pertinent legislation and rules and be trusted advisors to heads of state, members of legislatures, regulators, ministers and their staffs. We look forward to being available for listening to, consulting with and advising governments on the impact of the Internet.  Cisco’s Global Policy and Government Affairs (GPGA) team develops and influences pro-technology public policies and regulations. Working collaboratively with industry stakeholders, association partners, and government leaders, GPGA builds relationships with government leaders to influence policies that affect Cisco’s business and overall IT adoption, helping to shape policy decisions at a global, national, and local level.  GPGA is composed of former elected officials, legislators, parliamentarians, regulators, senior U.S. government officials and government affairs professionals who help Cisco promote and protect the use of technology around the world.CRITICAL POLICY PRIORITIESBROADBAND Access to broadband Internet—high-speed, always-on communication links that can move large files much more quickly than a regular phone line—is critical to advancing the way people work, live, play, and learn. With easy access to such high-speed communications technology, both citizens and countries benefit through increased educational opportunities, business productivity, job growth, and economic prosperity.   Broadband Internet access is available over a variety of platforms including cable modems, digital subscriber lines (DSL), wireless, satellite, powerline (BPL), fiber optics to the home (FTTH), or long reach ethernet (LRE). On a global basis, nations vary in their approaches to investing in and supporting technology infrastructure. Some of the issues slowing broadband deployment include:

  • Absence of a fully competitive market
  • Disagreement between traditionally regulated service providers—that own critical network infrastructure—and new alternative providers that lease these networks over terms of entry to the market, investment in new infrastructure, and use of existing infrastructure
  • Legitimate need to ensure universal access to broadband services
  • A few countries—Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea, Norway, and Iceland, among others—have achieved significant broadband penetration, but most lag far behind. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) currently ranks the United States 15th in the world for broadband adoption, down from 4th in 2001. Broadband penetration in Latin America is low, but growing rapidly. Similar strong growth is occurring in Asia and the Middle East. With some notable exceptions, most of the broadband infrastructure available today around the globe consists of relatively slow connections, in the 500kbps to 8Mbps range. Countries like Japan are leading the world in fast broadband services, with widespread availability of services up to 100Mbps.

Cisco’s Position  Cisco believes that leading countries must develop comprehensive national broadband infrastructure deployment plans that include policies to:

  • Incent private-sector investment in broadband infrastructure
  • Promote deployment of new technologies and applications
  • Encourage innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Make spectrum available for wireless broadband services
  • Connect the unconnected through universal service and fiscal policies Government officials and regulators can adopt the following policies to support broadband infrastructure:
  • Create a regulatory framework that has incentives for efficient investment in new broadband infrastructure with a goal of reducing regulation as far as possible as sustainable competition develops
  • Avoid onerous telecommunications regulation that prevents alternative broadband service providers from accessing new markets
  • Dedicate spectrum to high-speed broadband access applications
  • Transition universal service programs from circuit-switched voice focus to broadband connectivity

WIRELESS SPECTRUM   Consumers around the world continue to turn to mobile devices for voice, data, and Internet access. At the same time, demand continues to grow for technologies relying on wireless fixed use, also known as “transport” links or, in emerging markets, as access connections. The world’s leading mobility technologies—incumbent technologies such as GSM and CDMA, and new ones like WiFi and WiMax—are constantly evolving to provide ever more robust broadband services. All of these factors spotlight the need for strategically allocated radio spectrum, both licensed and unlicensed.   Background   Regulators who oversee spectrum play a key role in ensuring access to broadband spectrum is transparent, efficient, and equitable. One of the pitfalls in regulating the wireless spectrum is assigning specific frequencies to particular technologies, which inadvertently leads to “picking a technology winner.” Limiting spectrum to a particular service without flexibility or a plan for future allocations can result in unintended consequences. For example, in some developed countries, spectrum that has been assigned to inefficient 20th century technologies and services now needs to be migrated to 21st century technologies and services. Of course, countries also must work together to harmonize their spectrum allocations, such as 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum, to better support the needs of global citizens, businesses and international relations.   Cisco’s Position   In addition to being the largest manufacturer of WiFi devices that use license-exempt spectrum, Cisco is also a vendor of WiMax base stations, antenna systems, and client cards. In addition, many Cisco networking technologies and solutions are designed to work with, and enhance, the operation of wireless networks. As a leading provider of wireless technology solutions, Cisco supports:   New allocations and re-allocations of spectrum for broadband uses, including: 700 MHz, which was globally harmonized for wireless broadband services by the World Radiocommunication Conference of 2007. In countries where 700 MHz is occupied by analog television, Cisco supports the transition to digital broadcasting with the goal of opening up spectrum suitable for broadband applications 2.5 and 3.4-3.6 GHz, frequencies used by WiMax systems. Cisco is working with the WiMax Forum to open this spectrum around the world. 2.4 and 5 GHz, license-exempt spectrum used by WiFi networks.   Regulators should broadly allocate spectrum without regard to specific technologies, and should set minimum technical rules necessary to avoid harmful interference.   Regulators should not specifically limit particular frequencies to a specific use (e.g., spectrum that may be used today for mobile TV delivery could also be used for bidirectional broadband services).   SECURITY   The unprecedented connectivity of the Internet age has led to enormous social and economic benefits, but has also introduced numerous new challenges. In a fully connected world, security threats continue to evolve, keeping ahead of the most advanced defenses.   Background   Network-based security threats have led to widespread identity theft and financial fraud. Spam, viruses, and spyware cause significant problems for consumers and businesses. A security breach may irreparably damage a company’s brand or reputation. In the U.S., security issues threaten to slow the national adoption of electronic medical records. In the EU, consumer confidence regarding security and data protection is a barrier to the more rapid expansion of e-commerce across member state borders.   Today’s information attacks are a profitable business enterprise and are often controlled by organized crime syndicates. A growing number of sophisticated cybercrime business models, including the emergence of criminal enterprises, are built around selling tools and services for launching network attacks, rather than simply selling information gained from attacks. Security technology continues to advance, changing from passive, point product-based to active, end-to-end approaches to security recognition, containment, and quarantine. In addition, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are competing on security and consumer ISPs offer security as part of their service.   Policy makers around the world are focused on the state of the information infrastructure. Policy makers want to ensure that users of networks employ the best technology and process practices to make networks as secure as possible. Governments and businesses continually update their strategies to prevent attacks, and public-private partnerships have been formed to develop voluntary, market-based approaches to security.   Cisco’s Position  Cisco believes that governments can help decrease cyber security threats by:

  • Raising consumer and industry awareness of the importance of network security
  • Educating users about best practices
  • Using best practices to secure their own systems
  • Funding long-term research and development
  • Aggressively enforcing the laws against cyber crime and prosecuting criminals that use or attempt to use the network for theft, fraud, extortion, or other crimes
  • Increasing cooperation at an international level with other governments, law enforcement agencies, and the private sector on the socialization of best practices and international prosecution of cybercrime

Cisco does not believe that governments should regulate security. In general, regulation:

  • Stifles innovation by picking and choosing specific technology, rather that letting market competition develop the best and most advanced solutions
  • Does not advance quickly enough to keep pace with current industry needs and newly posed threats
  • May actually decrease Internet security by creating specific points for systemic failure

PATENT REFORM   U.S. patent law is in need of reform—its last major overhaul was in 1952. The patent system is encumbered by out-of-date procedures, limited resources, and obsolete guidelines that result in the commonplace granting of overly-broad patents. This climate has led to an increase in unjustified lawsuits by speculative patent holders against large and small companies alike. As a consequence, fear of litigation and mounting legal costs are stifling technology innovation and threatening U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.   Background   Cisco strongly supports patent protection. We hold more than 2,500 issued U.S. patents, with active applications for more than 4,000 others. The value of our company rests upon the intellectual property embodied in our networking products—both hardware and software.   Cisco’s patent program helps ensure the company’s ability to improve and successfully market its products.   We believe that the purpose of the patent system is to ensure that inventors, such as those within Cisco, have the incentive to invest in further innovation and promote public access to new inventions. But patent law has not kept pace with the global and innovative nature of the 21st century innovation economy.   Patent speculators claim overly-broad patents for technologies that they do not intend to develop, and aggressively and widely enforce their patents against alleged infringers by attempting to negotiate outrageous licensing fees and litigating the case if fees are refused.   Patent speculators are notorious for bringing their case to court in districts that are known for favoring the plaintiff in patent lawsuits, a practice known as forum shopping.   The process and guidelines used by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) do not take into account the growth of patent litigation. Current rules encourage jackpot-like lawsuits that rob companies and the U.S. economy of billions of dollars that would otherwise be invested in jobs, innovation, consumer savings and shareholder value.   Cisco’s Position  Federal patent reform legislation is needed to curb excessive patent litigation and improve patent quality. Cisco supports efforts to pass common-sense patent reform legislation and is working with industry groups and legislators to address these issues. Patent reform legislation to repair the broken U.S. patent system will foster more innovation, increased investment in research and jobs, greater shareholder value and enhanced U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace. Among our priorities are:

  • Improved patent quality. Dedicated patent examiners at the PTO are inundated with record numbers of patent applications. Despite their diligence, a substantial number of problem patents are issued each year due to outmoded procedures, insufficient training and lack of resources. Improving patent quality and making changes at the PTO are important parts of patent reform.
  • Timely patent review. Timely reviews of the patent will ensure its validity and enable questionable patents to be challenged before litigation occurs. Cisco supports proposals to create a post-grant review process that allows third parties to thoroughly evaluate the patent within the PTO, not the courts.
  • Proportionate damages. Complex technology devices may be composed of thousands of patented components. Patent infringement damages should be proportionate to the value of the component in question, not the value of the entire product.
  • Justified punitive damages. Punitive damages must be justified, not automatic. The standard for assessing “willful infringement,” which triggers a tripling of ordinary damages, must ensure that “willful” damages are only assessed where there is truly egregious conduct.
  • Prohibition of forum shopping. An end to the practice of patent case forum shopping will ensure that patent lawsuits are resolved in courts that have a reasonable connection to the underlying claim. Patent laws should be revised to ensure that companies are not held liable in U.S. courts for worldwide damages from acts of infringement that are claimed to have occurred in other countries.

VOICE OVER IP   As VoIP technology matures, government agencies increasingly regulate VoIP services in the same way as traditional phone service, imposing comparable regulations on VoIP providers. The majority of regulators are reviewing their position on social requirements such as emergency services and numbering resources that should be allocated to VoIP services. In some countries, economic regulations similar to taxes imposed on circuit-switched service providers are also under consideration.   Background   As VoIP services experience a tremendous growth rate in both consumer and business markets, government agencies globally increasingly regulate them in the same manner as traditional phone services.   For example, in the United States, interconnected VoIP providers are required to support enhanced 911 (E911) emergency services that provide caller identification and location information to the call-answering center; lawful intercept, which allows law enforcement agencies access for court-approved electronic surveillance; and 711 functionality for the disabled, which allows hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired users to call others through the phone network using keyboards.   VoIP operators have also been required by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support local number portability, allowing subscribers to switch carriers and retain the same phone number; and to make financial contributions such as regulatory fees and universal service fees, which ensure a baseline level of voice service to every U.S. resident.   In the European Union, VoIP regulation is left to each member state’s national telecommunications regulator, though there are now moves to harmonize this at an EU level. Key issues that are on the agenda of EU regulators include requirements to provide emergency call access and number portability between traditional PSTN and VoIP services.   In some countries with state-operated circuit-based phone systems, VoIP may be illegal or heavily taxed.   Cisco’s PositionCisco supports the principles of open, accessible, market-driven Internet services, including VoIP:

  • VoIP should be recognized as an Internet application and information service and not subject to financial regulations that would impede its deployment.
  • Due to the inherent differences between the IP networks used by VoIP applications and traditional circuit-switched networks, regulation should not be applied without substantial public policy justification.
  • VoIP has the potential to reduce costs and improve access to communications services on a global basis, especially in developing countries. Because VoIP would drive broadband penetration and enable universal broadband access, unnecessary regulatory burdens and undue financial constraints could slow the continuing development of both VoIP and broadband.
  • In general, VoIP service should be treated as an interstate service under the jurisdiction of national governments, which will enable its growth without unnecessary regulation.
  • Where regulation exists for a universal service charge, this may be applied to VoIP services that interconnect with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), but should be done in a technologically neutral fashion.
  • Some areas of VoIP—such as emergency services, lawful intercept, and access for the disabled—may be appropriate for limited regulation, providing the technological differences between VoIP and circuit-switched services are recognized.
  • Such limited regulations must be restricted to voice services and not be imposed on other IP services, such as e-mail, instant messaging, video, and web applications

NET NEUTRALITY   CNet neutrality legislation would mandate the terms, conditions, and prices set by broadband Internet service providers, restricting their ability to use innovative network management technology, provide appropriate levels of quality of service, and deliver new features and services to meet evolving consumer needs. Opponents of net neutrality regulations, including Cisco, believe that allowing the development of differentiated broadband products, with different service and content offerings, will enhance the broadband market for consumers.   Background   In just a decade or so, the Internet has gone from use by a handful of technically savvy people to an essential part of the daily lives of hundreds of millions. So far, the Internet has been an unqualified success, adopted faster and used more creatively than almost any other technology in human history.   With the increase in Internet usage, consumer appetite for high-bandwidth content such as streaming video and peer-to-peer file sharing continues to grow. The quality-of-service and throughput requirements of such content bring concerns about network congestion and infrastructure investment and development. This has been addressed in part by technology developments that allow service providers to differentiate among data types or sources. These technology advancements have led some broadband service providers to consider prioritizing data traffic to improve network management and provide premium services.   Net neutrality advocates recommend legal and regulatory restrictions on broadband Internet access services to effectively mandate the terms, conditions, and prices set by broadband service providers. It would restrict their ability to use innovative technology to manage their networks, provide appropriate levels of quality of service, and deliver new features and services to meet evolving consumer needs. Supporters of net neutrality believe that greater regulation is needed to prevent service providers from limiting bandwidth or services and creating two classes of Internet experience.   Cisco and other opponents of net neutrality regulation believe that this approach is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Many of the Internet’s benefits come from its open nature and the ability of anyone to develop new and innovative devices and services that connect to it. Such innovation has created entirely new industries and has fostered competitive markets in Internet applications and equipment. Allowing broadband service providers to innovate freely and differentiate their networks will enable them to provide consumers with to enhanced service offerings and richer content.   Cisco’s PositionCisco supports an open and innovative Internet, and believes that empowered consumers, maximum user choices, and a free marketplace are the keys to maintaining an open and innovative Internet.   As such, Cisco helped produce the 2003 High Tech Broadband Coalition’s Connectivity Principles, which were embodied in the FCC’s Policy Statement of 2005. The Connectivity Principles and FCC Policy Statement protect consumers with information and the ability to use the Internet in an open fashion. Cisco continues to support these principles:

  • Broadband Internet consumers should have access to their choice of legal Internet content within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plan.
  • Broadband Internet consumers should be able to run applications of their choice, within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plans, as long as they do not harm the provider’s network.
  • Consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to their broadband Internet access connection at the consumer’s premises, so long as they operate within the bandwidth limits and quality of service of their service plans and do not harm the provider’s network or enable theft of services.
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

In addition, Cisco supports:

  • The use of network management tools by Internet access providers to improve the Internet experience as long as there is no anti-competitive effect.
  • The ability of broadband Internet access service providers to engage in pro-competitive network management techniques to alleviate congestion, ameliorate capacity constraints, and enable new services
  • The ability of broadband Internet access service providers to offer additional services to supplement broadband Internet access, including bandwidth tiers, quality of service, security, anti-virus and anti-spam services, network management services, as well as to enter into commercially negotiated agreements with unaffiliated parties for the provision of such additional services.
  • Case-by-case FCC action only if and when faced with a specific complaint with respect to the FCC Policy Statement or related anti-competitive behavior. Federal regulation should only take place if a problem occurs.

PRIVACY   The Internet privacy debate is concerned with how companies use consumer data for the purpose of improving their customers’ online experience. To ensure consumer confidence and expand e-commerce, businesses must be committed to protecting their customers’ privacy. Privacy is a global issue without national borders, and policymakers around the world are struggling to determine the best way to protect consumers’ online privacy.   Background   Sensitive and confidential data is routinely transmitted across computer networks. Whether it is through e-commerce transactions or simple online polling, businesses collect and use data to maximize consumers’ online experience. For example, online booksellers collect data to make reading recommendations; advertisers profile users based on Internet-surfing habits; and media sites collect data that allow visitors to customize the news they receive.   Businesses must address the integrity of consumer data to ensure consumer confidence, or they will not fully realize the benefits of e-commerce. At the same time, they must provide consumers with the best possible online experience and allow them to reap the benefits of online interactions.   The global nature of the Internet complicates privacy issues because of cultural and geographic differences related to privacy, security, and the role of the government. Cross-border approaches to dealing with privacy include voluntary consumer protection cooperation, multilateral treaties for criminal law enforcement, cyber incident response teams, and consumer education and awareness.   Cisco’s Position   To address the privacy issue, state, provincial, and national governments must develop policies that meet the needs of a global economy. Overly burdensome privacy policies can become barriers to trade, preventing the free flow of information across borders. Stringent rules impeding the cross-border flow of data may hinder new technology development as well as educational, commercial, and entertainment applications.   Where governments do regulate to address privacy concerns, this should be based on internationally recognized principles, and not to mandate the use of specific technologies or business models.   Cisco believes that industry self-regulation can be effective in protecting privacy, strengthened by innovative tools to provide consumers with choices to protect their personal data and understand how it is collected and used.   Several ambitious and successful industry-led initiatives, such as the Online Privacy Alliance and TRUSTe, have achieved a reasonable balance between consumer protection and business requirements.   Cisco’s own privacy policy is based on respect for its customers and a commitment to protect the information that they have shared. Cisco continually reviews and improves its own privacy policy to make sure it meets the changing needs of customer, the Internet, and global business and computing environments.   INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS   The age of digital media has dramatically changed intellectual property rights (IPR). The proliferation of technologies that enable mass-market digital copying and analog/digital conversion, combined with file-sharing software and peer-to-peer networks that are easily accessible via high-speed Internet connections, have led to increased concerns about distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted media. In particular, the movie and music industries continue to search for technical and regulatory solutions to combat digital piracy.   Background   The music and movie industries have long been troubled by the growing trade in pirated media. High-speed digital copying hardware and broadband Internet connections enable mass production of pirated content with no degradation in quality from the original. A significant amount of trafficking of unauthorized copyrighted material occurs via peer-to-peer networks that enable large-scale file sharing among multiple users.   A variety of technical options for protecting digital content (known as digital rights managements systems, or DRMs) are available, including copy control; file access control (limiting the number or length of views); restrictions on altering, sharing, saving, or printing; encrypting files for use only by authorized users; and electronic watermarking, flagging, or tagging to signal to a device that the media is copy-protected. These technologies may be imbedded within the media itself or contained in the operating system, program software, or hardware of a device. In addition, the music and movie industries are promoting the use of special “piracy filters” by Internet service providers (ISPs) that enable them to screen their broadband traffic and identify and contain pirated digital content.   Technology companies are concerned that legislation requiring the inclusion of specific intellectual property protection technologies poses serious threats to privacy, technical innovation, open source software development, and the fair use of copyrighted content. ISPs feel the costs of filtering network traffic will be a burden to them and their customers, and consumers and advocacy groups aren’t expected to embrace the restrictions. In addition, past efforts to limit copyright piracy using mandatory technology have often been ultimately unsuccessful as technical progress made the solutions obsolete.   Cisco’s Position   Protection of intellectual property is critical to Cisco’s success and is fundamental to the development of democratic societies and economic systems. Cisco believes that copyright laws promote innovation, should be enforced, and should protect all forms of digital content. We respect the needs of digital content industries to protect their product, including using DRMs and other technological protection measures. However, governments should not impose mandatory technical standards or legislation as a solution for achieving this successfully.   If technology standards are mandated to prevent media piracy, the government will essentially be selecting technology winners and losers. History has shown that the best technology is technology that is developed and tested by the marketplace.   Mandatory technical standards could result in user-unfriendly products and services and unfairly impact ISPs. Development of such products and services is a costly long-term process that negatively impacts content providers, consumers, the technology industry, and ISPs.   The private sector should work on its own to solve the issue of protecting digital intellectual property. Many companies are developing competing products and services that prevent the transfer of pirated media without making it difficult to use the Internet for legitimate activities.   Any solution to this issue must carefully balance the needs of the content industry with the preservation of technological innovation, consumer choice, and the preservation of e-commerce.


Membership in Trade Associations   Cisco is an active participant in a number of industry trade associations. Aspen Institute Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) Business Software Alliance (BSA) California Chamber of Commerce Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) Civil Justice Association of California Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Council of the Americas European American Business Council European Industry Association (EICTA) Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) Joint-Venture : Silicon Vallet Network Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE) Milpitas Chamber of Commerce National Conference of State Legislatures National Governors Association North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry (NCCBI) Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF) Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) Public Affairs Council Republican Main Street Partnership San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley Leadership Group Stanford Institute for Economic Policy and Research (SIEPR) TechAmerica Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) The Technology Network (TechNet) U.S.-China Business Council U.S. Information Technology Association (USITO, Beijing) Wi-Fi Alliance Wireless Communications Association International (WCA)