Is email privacy finally happening? Will Congress finally protect the privacy of Americans’ emails? Will law enforcement finally be required to get a warrant before accessing the private files we store in the cloud? After six years, the House Judiciary Committee is finally marking up the Email Privacy Act — which has the support of over 70% of the House. But what will the Senate do? And what about geolocation data? Will we have to wait another six years for that? Evan and Berin discuss.
FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly joins the show to discuss the Commission’s foray into privacy. What exactly does the FCC have to do with Internet privacy? Nothing — until recently. Before the agency reclassified broadband under telephone-style regulation in the name of “net neutrality,” the privacy practices of Internet service providers (ISPs) were regulated by the Federal Trade Commission — not the FCC. But, as former FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright noted, the FCC’s Title II reclassification of broadband as a “common carrier” service stole the FTC’s “jurisdictional lunch money.” What does this mean for consumers’ privacy and Internet advertising?
Last week, a pair of Senators introduced a bill that was overwhelmingly described by technology experts as “ludicrous, dangerous, and technically illiterate.” That’s because critics say the bill would effectively ban end-to-end encryption, a basic practice of digital security that protects privacy and cybersecurity but can also be used by terrorists and criminals to avoid detection. The “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016” would mandate that a company like WhatsApp, with other a billion users, be able to produce the plaintext of any message sent over its platform. Is this even technically possible? What would happen to companies that refuse to comply? Joining Evan to sort out the details is Julian Sanchez, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.
Pre-paid “burner” phones are often associated with the illegal world, whether it’s drug dealing, organized crime, or even terrorism. But for most consumers, they offer legitimate benefits, including privacy protections and an alternative to lengthy phone contracts. In the wake of the Brussels attacks, some lawmakers are turning their sights on burner phones. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) recently introduced a bill that would require consumers to present government-issued ID to buy these phones. Is this a legitimate counter-terrorism effort? Or knee-jerk scapegoating of technology? What does an ID requirement mean for social justice? Evan discusses the bill and its implications with Morgan Wright, a cybersecurity expert.
What’s the FCC been up to lately? Short answer: a lot. Luckily for us, a special guest, FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, made time to join the show to discuss broadband subsidies, Netflix throttling, and the agency’s “inquiry” into zero-rating programs. Why did the FCC’s monthly meeting get delayed for several hours last week? Why isn’t the Commission looking into Neflix’s throttling of AT&T and Verizon customers’ video streams? What’s going on with the FCC’s investigation of T-Mobile’s Binge On and other zero-rating programs? All that and more on today’s show.
3D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing, but not without controversy. The technology has made printing guns in your home relatively easy and cheap using open-source code provided by organizations like Defense Distributed. The nonprofit came under fire from the State Department, which alleged that disseminating code to print 3D guns is akin to international arms trafficking. Evan is joined by Randal Meyer, a legal associate at the Cato Institute, which filed a brief in Defense Distributed v. U.S. Dep’t of State. They discuss the case and its implications for free speech, gun rights, and our economy. Is computer code always free speech? Is there a legitimate public interest in banning citizens from printing their own guns? See Cato’s brief here.
How much do the presidential campaigns know about you? Most Americans are probably aware that tech companies and intelligence agencies collect their personal information — albeit for very different reasons. But perhaps less known are the data collection practices of the 2016 campaigns. Evan is joined by TechFreedom intern Ashley Holmes, a graduate student at George Washington University studying global communication. They discuss Big Data in the elections, what the campaigns want with it, and what it means for tech policy.
Is the FCC f***ing with your Call of Duty? Could strict net neutrality regulation make online video gaming worse? The FCC's Title II reclassification of broadband included a blanket ban on paid prioritization of Internet traffic, even if done at the request of the user. Net neutrality activists called that a win for consumers, but prioritization could improve lag-sensitive services like online gaming, live-streamed sports, and video chatting. Evan is joined by Tom Struble, TechFreedom’s Policy Counsel. They discuss the FCC’s impact on video games and the treatment of Internet traffic. Are all bits created equal?
How friendly is your city to short-term rentals? As Airbnb, Home Away, and other home-sharing platforms grow in popularity, they run into a hodgepodge of local regulations that differ, sometimes even by zip code. Evan is joined by Andrew Moylan, Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute. They discuss Roomscore.org, a new website that grades cities on their home-sharing regulations.
Last week, Netflix copped to deliberately downgrading its video quality for AT&T and Verizon customers for the past five years -- without telling anyone. While the throttling isn't a net neutrality violation per se, since Netflix is not a broadband provider, it looks pretty hypocritical given the company's heated, absolutist rhetoric on the treatment of Internet traffic. It certainly poses serious concerns for transparency, and anti-competitiveness, since Netflix spared T-Mobile and Sprint customers from its throttling. Evan and Berin discuss the "mea culpa," its impact on net neutrality, and whether Netflix committed deception under FTC law by lying to its customers. For more, see Berin's post on Medium.