The media and advertising markets are more competitive than ever, and it’s been awhile since radio, TV stations, and newspapers were the only games in town. As competition from the Internet is ever increasing, traditional media must adapt. Joint sales agreements (JSAs) allow two broadcast stations to have the same advertising sales force, which can increase efficiency and cuts costs. But the FCC’s media ownership rules have long restricted JSAs and other business practices like having radio and TV stations buy newspapers. Recently, a court threw out the FCC’s JSA rules over the agency’s failure to review its media ownership policies as mandated by Congress. Matthew Berry, chief of staff to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, joins the show to discuss the case. Where did the FCC go wrong?
There are two kinds of states: those that recognize home sharing, and those that pretend it isn’t happening. While regulations that provide a framework and certainty for an industry can actually be good companies like Airbnb and HomeAway, the devil is always in the details. Recently, Arizona passed a law on home sharing, and Carl Szabo, Policy Counsel for NetChoice, says other states should follow the Grand Canyon State’s example. Carl and Evan discuss the bill and how it differs from approaches in other states and cities. Should states have the final say on home sharing? Can localities be trusted to avoid regulatory capture? For more, see Carl’s op-ed in the Tech Policy Corner.
How are states handling the controversial issue of regulating daily fantasy sports, including companies like DraftKings and FanDuel? As the industry has exploded in popularity, state lawmakers, attorneys general, and gaming commissions have taken different approaches. While some states have enacted outright bans, others are grappling with how to regulate a relatively new industry that claims its products are skill-based rather than games of chance. Chris Koopman, research fellow at the Mercatus Center, returns to the podcast to discuss the latest developments in the wild world of online fantasy sports. For more, see our previous episode on this topic.
If you’re looking for a nuanced, thoughtful debate on government surveillance, you probably won’t find it in Congress. But look no further than American high schools. Jenna McLaughlin, a national security and surveillance reporter for The Intercept, immersed herself in a major high school debate competition. She found the arguments to be much more substantive and scrutinized than the claims about surveillance made in the halls of Congress. She and Evan discuss her feature article, high schoolers’ views on surveillance, and how different generations view the issue.
Spokeo is a search engine for people. But unlike your phone book, Spokeo claims to glean its information from public databases, such as social media profiles. So when the site allegedly posted false info about Thomas Robins, he sued. On May 16, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Spokeo v. Robins, the latest in a line of cases where the Court tries to flesh out when a plaintiff is allowed to sue in federal courts — that is, whether the plaintiff has "standing." Evan is joined by Adam J. White, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and of counsel at Boyden Gray & Associates. They discuss the case and its implications for tech policy. Why are big players like Google and Facebook so interested in the outcome?
In the “Golden Age of Surveillance,” are limits on government data collection really enough to protect privacy? Is mass surveillance inevitable? In the past, there was a “wall” between intelligence agencies and law enforcement. This separation protected Americans from being prosecuted for crimes unrelated to national security with information swept up in intelligence operations. But, in a post-9/11 world, government is increasingly blurring the lines between the NSA and your local police department. Evan is joined by Jake Laperruque, Privacy Fellow at the Constitution Project. They discuss proposed limitations on how government uses data after they’re collected. Is a chain link fence the sensible alternative to a wall? For more, see Jake’s paper.
WhatsApp has over a billion users worldwide, and the Facebook-owned encrypted messaging app is particularly popular in Brazil, where it’s used by 93% of Internet users. Earlier this month, a Brazilian court shut down the app across the country after the company failed to comply with a court order demanding data related to a drug trafficking investigation. Evan is joined by Javier Pallero, policy analyst in Latin America for Access Now, and his American counterpart, Amie Stepanovich. They discuss WhatsApp’s woes in Brazil and what the shutdowns mean for the broader global debate over encryption.
News broke yesterday that Google will soon face a 3 billion euro fine from the European Commission after 6 years of antitrust investigations from EU regulators. In the past, the EC has accused Google of unfairly promoting its own services in search results at the expense of its competitors. Now, regulators are complaining that Google requires smartphone manufacturers to make Google search the default and pre-install Google apps on phones running its Android operating system. Evan and Berin discuss the merits and implications of the case. Is Google really abusing its dominance in the search and smartphone markets?
The European Union (EU) is an interesting case for tech policy. While individual member states get direction from Brussels, where the EU is headquartered, they also create policies within their own borders. Should technology regulations be harmonized across the EU to create a “Digital Single Market?” Or should EU nations compete over crafting the best policies and attracting the most startups and investment? What can the US learn from this dynamic? Evan is joined by Dominique Lazanski, Public Policy Director at GSMA, an international trade association representing mobile operators. They discuss the latest tech headlines from the EU, their connection to the United States, and what it all means for Internet governance.
The Internet is getting smarter. And as the way we use the Internet is changing, the way we manage its traffic must change too. Evan and AEI Economics Research Associate Evelyn Smith discuss software-defined networking (SDN), it's benefits, and policy implications. How does SDN compare to road traffic? Does net neutrality make broadband “dumb?” For more, see Evelyn's post in Tech Policy Corner.