The gig economy has given workers important new opportunities to earn extra income or work a job that gives them freedom over their schedule. However, a recent push from several state legislatures to reclassify contractors as employees threatens the flexibility that’s made the gig economy so valuable to both workers and consumers. Patrice Onwuka, Senior Policy Analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum, joins the show to discuss the potential consequences of the new legislation. For more on the subject, see her recent post on the California legislation.
Deep fake technology, which uses artificial intelligence to convincingly alter video, has become the source of the latest panic over the spread of misinformation. While the technology can certainly be put to creative and entertaining uses, are those benefits outweighed by the threat it poses to democracy and the media? Or is it simply the next step in a history of deceptive practices that we’ve managed to adapt to? Taylor Barkley, program officer of technology & innovation at Stand Together, joins the show to discuss. For more, see his recent post in Human Progress.
Despite the fact that the Internet is more intertwined with our daily lives than ever before, far too many people in America lack a reliable connection and are left behind. Karima Zedan, Vice President of Digital Inclusion and Internet Essentials at Comcast, joins the show to discuss how Comcast is working to bridge the digital divide by offering low-cost service, the option to purchase a heavily subsidized computer, and providing digital literacy training opportunities in partnership with nonprofits around the country in an effort to expand access.
As the technology behind self-driving cars becomes increasingly viable for more widespread use, lawmakers and regulators have grappled with creating a legal framework for them. Jamie Boone, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Consumer Technology Association, and Ian Adams, Vice President of Policy at TechFreedom, join the show to discuss the current regulatory landscape for autonomous vehicles at the state and federal levels.
Despite an ever-growing body of evidence showing that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than traditional combustible cigarettes and can serve as a valuable smoking cessation tool, efforts continue to restrict or outright ban them in the name of public health. Paul Blair, director of strategic initiatives at Americans for Tax Reform, joins the show to discuss the latest developments in vaping regulation. For more on the subject, see Blair’s work and Tech Policy Podcast episode #213.
Last year, Congress passed SESTA/FOSTA, legislation intended to help law enforcement fight sex trafficking online. However, as numerous experts (including us) predicted, the law has ultimately pushed sex workers into more dangerous practices and made online platforms less likely to assist law enforcement due to fear of liability. Kendra Albert, clinical instructional fellow at the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, joins the show to discuss how the law has backfired and what to expect in the legal challenges against it. For more, see episodes #189 and #218 of the podcast, and Albert’s work at Harvard.
Apps increasingly rely on user location data as part of their services, but how private is that data kept? Ash is joined by Tom Lee, policy lead at Mapbox, which provides mapping and location services to a range of companies including Snapchat, TikTok, and the Weather Channel. Lee discusses how Mapbox provides useful location services while still protecting user privacy, and how the US can develop privacy laws to help preserve this balance.
The reaction against the ever-growing amount of information collected by tech giants has led to proposals ranging from self-regulation to strict GDPR-style privacy, and even the potential break-up of larger companies. But could treating tech companies as information fiduciaries — creating a legal obligation to be trustworthy in their use of our data — help solve this privacy problem? Ash is joined by Jack Balkin, Knight professor of constitutional law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School and founder Yale’s Information Society Project, and Mike Godwin, senior fellow of technology and innovation at the R Street Institute. For more, see Balkin’s work on the subject (law review article, website, Balkinization blog), and Godwin’s book, The Splinters of our Discontent.
Growing anti-tech sentiment both in the government and the general public has led to calls for policies that threaten to stifle innovation. Despite this rising techlash, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future of innovation, according to Jesse Blumenthal, director of technology and innovation policy at the Charles Koch Institute, who joins the show to discuss the latest developments in consumer privacy, antitrust, social media bias accusations, and more. For more, see CKI’s work on tech and innovation, and the Pessimists Archive podcast.