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.
As the consumer privacy debate rages on in the policy world, DuckDuckGo has made a name for itself by providing a range of privacy-protecting tools and services for consumers. DuckDuckGo CEO and Founder Gabriel Weinberg joins the show to discuss how users are tracked online, as well as what both DuckDuckGo and upcoming legislation are doing to change that. For more, see DuckDuckGo’s Do Not Track Act model legislation, their coalition letter in support of the Privacy for All Act, and our most recent episode on the encryption debate.
The Save the Internet Act, intended to force the FCC to revert to regulating the Internet under Title II, passed the House earlier this month and will soon be considered in the Senate. But is the legislation even necessary to protect consumers? Is it legally sound, or will it create new complexities and unintended consequences? TechFreedom President Berin Szóka joins the show to discuss. Here you can find the blogpost about Santa Clara Fire and Verizon and TechFreedom’s analysis of the Save the Internet Act.
Despite a recent Supreme Court victory in Carpenter v. United States, progress in defending personal data from government snooping has been at a crawl at the federal level. Fortunately, state legislatures have been taking their own actions to protect privacy. Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, joins the show to discuss his organization’s work on a bipartisan bill that passed unanimously in Utah, and what the new law means both for the state and the broader conversation on data privacy around the country.
Electric scooters been popping up in cities all over the US, seemingly overnight. While many have found the scooters to be a welcome addition to their transportation options, some local governments have tried to regulate them out of existence. Jennifer Huddleston Skees, Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center, joins the show to discuss the benefits and risks of the growing electric scooter trend, and how cities can work with innovators to keep transportation both accessible and safe. For further discussion, follow Jennifer on Twitter, and see her other work, including a recent op-ed on scooter regulation.