#32: McCaul Encryption Comission

February 29, 2016

While Apple’s recent refusal to comply with the FBI’s demand to unlock the iPhone of a San Bernardino attacker may have pushed privacy and encryption to the forefront of public debate, a bipartisan plan to examine the impact of encryption on law enforcement has been in the works for months. Today, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced legislation to establish a commission to examine the issue. Evan and Ryan Hagemann, the Niskanen Center’s technology and civil liberties policy analyst, discuss the potential of the commission.

#31: EU Digital Single Market: The View from Milan

February 26, 2016

When it comes to tech startups and innovation, the European Union has largely lagged behind the United States and China. In an effort to reverse this trend, the European Commission is working to create a Digital Single Market (DSM) to harmonize technology regulations across its member states. It’s a nice idea, in theory, but it poses serious concerns for competition and differentiation among EU nations. Evan and Berin are joined by Massimiliano Trovato, a research fellow at the Istituto Bruno Leoni, a libertarian think tank based in Milan. Will the DSM, bolster Europe’s tech landscape? What can the US learn from the EU’s approach to regulation? Is espresso really better in Italy?

#30: “Net Neutrality” (Ahem, Title II) Progress Report

February 25, 2016

This time last year, the FCC voted 3-2 to reclassify broadband under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, utility rules designed for railroads and telephone monopolies — all in the name of “net neutrality.” Special guest FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who voted against the Open Internet Order, joins us to give his one-year progress report for the FCC’s Internet regulations. Has the Order protected consumers from harm? Or, as critics warned, has it stifled competition, innovation and investment? Did “reclassification” open Pandora’s Box?

#29: Bitcoin is Unleashing Economies

February 24, 2016

Bitcoin, a once-geeky novelty, has grown into a legitimate currency that disrupts financial markets — especially in the developing world. Bitcoin can be an alternative to failing currencies, offering an escape from oppressive regimes and hyperinflation. Evan is joined by Caleb Watney, a graduate research fellow at the Mercatus Center. They discuss Bitcoin’s presence in developing nations — from backing new businesses to providing financial stability. For more, check out Caleb’s op-ed in Policy Interns.

#28: Space Law (Part 2) Property Rights in Space

February 23, 2016

Can you own part of space? Or stuff you find there? In Part II of our Space Law series, TF Adjunct Fellow Jim Dunstan and Berin explore the basics of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, what’s good and bad about federal asteroid mining legislation enacted last year, and what’s on the horizon for space property rights. Check out Episode 13 for an intro to Jim and his 30+ year career in commercial space law.

#27: Connecting the Rez: Broadband on Tribal Lands

February 22, 2016

While the US has enjoyed well over $1 trillion in broadband investment since the mid-90s, connecting Native American reservations to the Internet has proven difficult. 41 percent of residents on tribal land still lack access to a broadband connection, compared to only 10 percent in the US as a whole. Evan and Berin are joined by Jim Dunstan, founder of Mobius Legal Group and longtime representative of Native American tribes. They discuss the hurdles to broadband deployment and adoption on reservations and what steps are needed to bridge the Digital Divide.

#26: Scalia & Net Neutrality: Law and Politics

February 19, 2016

Justice Scalia’s death sparked a flurry of speculation about who will replace him. Sri Srinivasan tops most lists of potential successors. But he's also one of three appellate judges set to rule on the FCC’s Internet regulations. How might that decision affect his nomination, and the president’s decision about whether to pick him? Might the intersection of the looming court decision and his nomination make “net neutrality” a major election issue? And does Scalia’s death change how the courts might rule on the FCC’s reclassification of broadband under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act? See our op-ed in Real Clear Technology for more.

#25: Drones & Humanitarianism

February 18, 2016

Media coverage of drones often focuses on near-misses with airplanes or bombings in the Middle East. But there’s another side to drones that doesn’t get enough attention: humanitarianism. While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) fumbles around with how to regulate drones in the US, the international community is embracing drones for the purposes of disaster response and humanitarian assistance. Evan is joined by Ashley Holmes, a graduate student a George Washington University and intern at TechFreedom. They discuss drones as a force for good, the role of regulation, and what the US can learn from the Philippines and Rwanda.

#24: Apple v FBI: Unlocking the iPhone

February 17, 2016

Apple made headlines today by refusing to comply with a federal judge’s order to unlock the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the San Bernardino attackers. In an open letter to customers, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained the importance of strong data security and the dangerous precedent that would set by forcing the company to unlock the phone. Evan and Berin discuss the 1789 All Writs Act, which the FBI claims requires Apple to provide “reasonable technical assistance.” Should that include compromising the security of devices? Are we heading down a slippery slope? And how will the court fight play out?

#23: Getting SLAPPed for Online Speech

February 16, 2016

Online free speech is critical to companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor whose business models depend on consumer reviews. But companies often don’t like what they see on those sites, and can use strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) to discourage people from sharing their opinions online. Without anti-SLAPP laws, consumers might end up spending huge sums on legal fees to defend their speech, even when the lawsuits are frivolous. Evan is joined by Moriah Mensah, a recent graduate of Howard University School of Law and a policy intern at the R Street Institute. They discuss the problems with SLAPPs and whether reform efforts like the SPEAK FREE Act will be effective.