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 Not much, but they both think America’s notice-and-takedown laws are outdated.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.
Congress and the White House tried, and failed, to repeal and replace Obamacare. Since then, their focus has shifted to other priorities — in particular, reforming America’s tax code. It’s been decades since Congress did any significant reform, but there’s generally widespread agreement that our tax code is too long, too complicated, and riddled with loopholes. What would a lower corporate tax rate mean for tech companies and consumers? Will the proposed “border adjustment tax” mean a big adjustment for tech? Will there be winners and losers? How would reform impact domestic firms versus multinationals? Evan is joined by James Lucier, Managing Director at Capital Alpha Partners, a Washington-DC based policy research firm.
Is tech policy stuck in the past? Does innovation move faster than government’s ability to keep up? Are we fighting over what to do with last year’s products, when we should be planning for what lies ahead? Evan is pleased to welcome to the show Austin Carson, Executive Director at TechFreedom. Previously, he worked in Congress on a variety of tech policy issues, including encryption, cybersecurity, and intellectual property. He discusses lessons learned from his time on the Hill, where the future of tech policy is headed, and how think tanks like TechFreedom can help foster bipartisan dialogue and implement solutions to seemingly intractable problems.
Would you agree to stand in a police line-up if you never committed a crime? Probably not. But if you have a drivers’ license, you might be in a perpetual, digital line-up. 18 states allow the FBI to scan your license photo, and many states allow local law enforcement to do the same. One in two American adults — that’s about 125 million people — are in the FBI’s facial recognition database, and most, if not all, searches are conducted without a warrant.
Evan is joined by Alvaro Bedoya, Executive Director of the Center on Privacy & Technology, Georgetown Law, who testified at a recent hearing in Congress on the FBI’s use of facial recognition technologies (FRTs). They discuss the state of FRTs, how they impact different communities, and how policymakers can balance the needs of law enforcement with civil liberties and due process. For more, check out https://www.perpetuallineup.org/.