#40: Unlocking the Cable Box

March 10, 2016

Consumers have never had more ways to watch video, but traditional cable and satellite subscriptions still require set-top boxes, which typically cost 15-20 dollars a month to rent. The FCC is looking to disrupt this market by forcing cable, telephone, and satellite companies to make their equipment interoperable with third-party set-top boxes made by other companies. It sounds good in theory, but will it actually help consumers? And is this move only prolonging the inevitable death of the cable box? Evan is joined by Moriah Mensah, a recent graduate of Howard University School of Law. They discuss the FCC’s proposal and what it will mean for consumers.


#39: Uber vs. Thumbtack: Labor in the Sharing Economy

March 9, 2016

When it comes to the sharing economy, most of the focus is on companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. But skilled professionals like handymen, mechanics, and personal trainers are taking advantage of online platforms like Thumbtack to find customers. Evan is joined by Jared Meyer, a research fellow at the Manhattan Institute. They discuss Thumbtack’s new report, released today, about skilled workers in the sharing economy. Should skilled labor be treated differently by regulators than “gig” platforms like Uber?


#38: How Stuff Works - Spectrum 101

March 8, 2016

Spectrum is everywhere, and we’re interacting with it almost constantly. Whether we’re using smartphones, tablets, bluetooth speakers, AM/FM radios or basically any WiFi device, we're relying on spectrum to send and receive information. Evan is joined by Brent Skorup, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center, a research center based at George Mason University. They discuss the history of spectrum from radios to smartphones. Were spectrum licenses really doled out through beauty and popularity contests? Are incentive auctions a better alternative?


#37: Social Media and Terrorism

March 7, 2016

ISIS and other terrorist groups are using social media to recruit members to their causes. Tech companies like Twitter and Facebook are working to take down extremist propaganda, and even hacktivist groups like Anonymous are joining the fight. But is this a losing battle? Evan is joined by Morgan Wright, a cybersecurity analyst for major media outlets and a senior fellow at the Center for Digital Government. They discuss the state of terrorism on social media and efforts to combat radicalization online. What responsibility do tech companies have to police their platforms? What’s the proper role for government? See more of Morgan’s work on his website.


#36: MOBILE NOW & The Future of Wireless

March 4, 2016

Demand for mobile data is exploding, begging the question: is there enough available wireless spectrum to meet this demand? As wireless carriers prepare for 5G, the future of wireless, lawmakers are grappling with how to make mobile broadband deployment easier. Today, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the MOBILE NOW Act. Evan and Berin are joined by Tom Struble, TechFreedom’s policy counsel. Will the legislation free up enough spectrum to make 5G workable? What other ways can government remove barriers to broadband deployment?


#35: Imperial FCC

March 3, 2016

On Wednesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler refused to commit to step down following the election of the next president, breaking with a century of tradition for independent regulatory agencies. Evan and Berin discuss the reasoning behind Wheeler’s controversial decision and the possible implications for the future of the Commission. For more, read Berin’s op-ed in Medium.


#34: Washington #TechFail

March 2, 2016

When it comes to technology, is Washington failing America's young? Young people disproportionately use and rely on technology, yet the lawmakers who decide tech policy are often clueless as to how to regulate the Internet, drones, and other new gadgets. Evan is joined by Jared Meyer, a research fellow at the Manhattan Institute and co-author of "Disinherited: How Washington is betraying America's young." They discuss how Washington's approach to tech impacts young people from video games to NSA surveillance.


#33: Space Law (Part 3) Mining in Space

March 1, 2016

Congress actually passed an asteroid mining bill last year. Did they get it right? In Part III of our Space Law series, TF Adjunct Fellow Jim Dunstan and Berin discuss the details of the bill, next steps for Congress, and the economics of tapping the resources of the solar system. Check out Episode 13 for an intro to Jim and his 30+ year career in commercial space law, and Episode 28 for an introduction to property rights in space.


#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?