UK Prime Minister Theresa May is pushing ahead with a controversial tech agenda, despite a grave political miscalculation that cost her Conservative party its majority in Parliament. Will a flimsy minority government supported by a Northern Irish party be enough to push through measures on online pornography, hate speech, and electronic surveillance? How will the UK's European neighbors and the United States react? Evan discusses with TechFreedom legal fellow Ashkhen Kazaryan and UK native Robert Winterton.
Recent terrorist attacks in Portland, London, and Manchester have many calling for a crackdown on Internet hate speech. They argue that allowing toxic content to exist online, especially on social media, leads to violence, crime, and terrorism. But who should decide what we’re allowed to say? Government? Internet companies? A combination of the two? Having the government “clean up” the Internet may sound good in theory, but would you trust the president of the U.S. or other world leaders to make these determinations? Especially if you don’t support them? Evan discusses with Cathy Gelis, an Internet lawyer based in the Bay Area and friend of the show. Follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyGellis.
In a New York Times op-ed, Jonathan Taplin argues that Google, Facebook, and Amazon have become monopolies. With such large market shares in search advertising, social media, and e-commerce respectively, Taplin says it’s time to break up these companies — or regulate them as public utilities. Is this a fair assessment? Is Big Tech really stifling innovation? What lessons can we learn from the growth of other industries like automobiles and fossil fuels? Tech is often seen as a bright spot in our otherwise sluggish economy. Should policymakers focus their efforts elsewhere? Evan discusses with Mike Mandel, Chief Economic Strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute and co-author of a report, “The Coming Productivity Boom.”
How should online privacy be regulated? Currently, Internet platforms, mobile applications, and online ad networks allow consumers to “opt-out” of having their data collected for marketing purposes, with the Federal Trade Commission utilizing a variety of tools to ensure these service providers act reasonably in protecting consumer’s privacy and personal information. Recently, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the BROWSER Act, which would regulate privacy much more strictly, similar to the “opt-in” regime seen in Europe. More privacy protection always sounds good, in theory, but could the bill have unintended consequences for our Internet economy? Evan and Berin discuss.
What can Taylor Swift and Katy Perry agree on? Not much, but they both think America’s notice-and-takedown laws are outdated. These laws allow copyright holders to ask Internet platforms to remove content that infringes on intellectual property. The 1996 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) aimed to strike a balance that protects copyright while shielding online platforms from being sued out of existence. But plenty of stakeholders have gripes with the current system. Many in the music industry say Internet platforms are enabling piracy, which robs artists and discourages creativity. The tech industry worries that stricter copyright laws would allow frivolous lawsuits to put platforms out of business, creating a chilling effect on free speech. Evan discusses with Mike Masnick, founder and CEO of Floor64 and editor of Techdirt.
How close are we to a driverless future? Over 30,000 Americans die in car accidents every year, and autonomous vehicles have the potential to dramatically reduce that number. Self-driving Ubers already hit the streets of Pittsburgh, and automakers have been striking deals with tech companies. Can government agencies like the Department of Transportation keep up with the fast pace of technological change? How do state and local governments factor in the discussion? As more and more cars connect to the Internet, will concerns over privacy and cybersecurity stand in the way? Evan is joined by Jamie Boone, Senior Director of Government Affairs for the Consumer Technology Association.
How does an e-vapor business navigate the FDA’s approval process? On August 8, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration’s “Deeming Rule” took effect, starting a two-year period where every manufacturer of e-cigarettes, e-liquid, and other vapor products would have to get permission from the FDA to keep their products on the market. You’ve heard some statistics on this podcast trying to quantify the regulatory burden, which could be anywhere from a few hundred thousand to millions of dollars per product. But what does that actually look like in the real world? Chris Howard and Jeff Sanderson from E-Alternative Solutions discuss the impact and what they’re doing to get their Cue product through the FDA’s process.
Last week, the National Security Agency (NSA) announced it was ending a surveillance practice known as “about collection.” It’s one piece of a larger puzzle called “Section 702,” the legal authority behind some of the programs first revealed to the public in the Snowden leaks of 2013. While “about collection” is focused on surveillance of foreign communications, Americans’ data are routinely swept up in the process. The data can be queried by the FBI and local law enforcement for domestic purposes, as we discussed in a previous episode. Does the NSA’s announcement indicate that the intelligence agency is cleaning up it's act? Is our government capable of self regulation and oversight? What's the NSA’s motivation here? Evan discusses with friends of the show Neema Guliani, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union in DC, and Liza Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security Program.
Yesterday, at the Newseum in Washington, DC, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai outlined his vision for the future of Internet regulation, including a plan to undo "Title II." In 2015, Pai's predecessor, Tom Wheeler, reclassified broadband Internet as a "common carrier" service under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. Net neutrality activists say that public utility regulations are necessary to have a free and open Internet. Critics of Title II, including Pai, argue that the rules are outdated and depress investment and innovation. Does the answer lie somewhere in between? What role might Congress and the Supreme Court play? Evan and Berin discuss all that and more with Chairman Pai.
How does immigration impact the tech sector? Recently, President Trump ordered federal agencies to review the H-1B visa program, which is used by many tech companies to fill roles they claim can't be filled by Americans. As a candidate, Trump took tough stances on immigration. Should tech companies be worried? Could the review actually improve the program by rooting out fraud and abuse? What role should Congress play? Evan is joined by Michael Hayes, Senior Manager for government affairs at the Consumer Technology Association.