Germans head to the polls on Sunday for a national election. And while many political headlines are bemoaning what could be a “boring” victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel, the election could have serious implications for tech policy. Will Merkel’s coalition with the social democrats (SPD) survive, or might we see an unexpected contract with the up and coming libertarian-leaning “free democrats (FDP)?” Would continuity mean more government hacking, facial recognition in the subways, and stockpiling of cyber vulnerabilities, or will a possible new coalition partner like the FDP push back against the government’s ever growing powers in the digital realm? Evan is joined by Julia Schuetze, Berlin-based project manager of the Transatlantic Cyber Forum at Stiftung Neue Verantwortung.
When it comes to voter turnout, America lags behind much of the world. Could online voting help spur more civic engagement? The 2016 election was plagued by headlines about Russian hacking, faulty voting machines, and frustration over the Electoral College. But with all the concern around cybersecurity and the integrity of elections, is online voting really the solution? Does the Internet make elections less or more secure? What can the U.S. learn from countries like Estonia? Evan is joined by Andrew Weinreich, tech entrepreneur and host of the podcast, “Predicting Our Future.”
When it comes to tech policy, New York seems to lead the way in… interesting ideas. The government has an important role in making sure our roads are safe for driving. This means there’s nothing abnormal about a police officer checking their blood alcohol levels with a breathalyzer. But the “textalyzer” is a different animal: law enforcement scanning phones to see if drivers were “texting” before an accident raises a host of privacy and cybersecurity concerns, among other issues. Manufactured by Cellebrite, an Israel-based tech company, the textalyzer is still months away from coming to market. But New York is considering legislation that would authorize law enforcement to use the textalyzer when it’s available for purchase. Are these types of searches legal under current case law, and what would they mean for civil liberties? Evan is joined by Dan King, an Advocate at Young Voices. For more, see his op-ed.
When it comes to immigration policy, the headlines are naturally focused on DACA, Dreamers, and illegal immigration. But many in Congress are also looking to reduce legal immigration, namely Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA), who introduced the RAISE Act, aimed at cutting green cards issued in half over the next ten years. What kind of impact does legal immigration have on the tech sector, and how might the RAISE Act change that? What else could Congress do to address problems in our immigration system without stifling entrepreneurship and innovation? Evan is joined by Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, and Graham Owens, legal fellow at TechFreedom. For more, see Alex’s post on the RAISE Act.
The North American Free Trade Agreement was a major sticking point in the 2016 election, with then-candidate Trump criticizing the trade deal for killing U.S. jobs, particularly in manufacturing. But how do policies like NAFTA impact technology and the everyday consumer experience? Recently, Canada, Mexico, and the United States began renegotiating the 1994 trade agreement, aiming to complete a new deal by the end of the year. Should tech stakeholders be worried about changes to NAFTA, or is this an opportunity for improving a deal that was struck long before most Americans had ever used the Internet? What will it mean for cybersecurity, intellectual property, tariffs, and other tech issues? Evan is joined by Ed Brzytwa, Director of Global Policy for the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). For more, see ITI’s comments on NAFTA modernization.
It seems like every week there are more headlines about cyber attacks. Should you be worried about the next Petya or WannaCry? What can we do to protect ourselves from getting hacked? With an endless stream of alarming incidents — Sony, HBO, North Korea, and federal agencies — are we at risk of falling into a “cyber fatigue?” Evan is joined by Heather West, Senior Policy Manager for the Americas at Mozilla, and Austin Carson, Executive Director of TechFreedom. They discuss the latest in cyber news and what Internet users, and their governments, can do to sort through the mess. For more, see TechFreedom’s primer on the PATCH Act and Mozilla’s policy blog.
The Internet has changed a lot over the past 20 years, and so has the music industry. CDs and record stores have been replaced by streaming and the iTunes store. While consumers are benefitting from more content and ways to listen to music than ever before, prominent artists like Taylor Swift have lamented declining revenues for artists in the digital age, even taking their gripes to the halls of Congress. Is streaming a viable future for online music, or will online piracy and low royalties spoil the party? Are websites like YouTube doing enough to combat copyright infringement? Evan is joined by Steven Marks, Chief of Digital Business & General Counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). For a different perspective on copyright, listen to episode #176.
What does government have to do with video games? Censorship and the First Amendment may come to mind, but that’s only a small piece of the puzzle. The American video game industry is worth $30 billion, and everything from tax reform to NSA surveillance can have a huge impact on this growing sector of the economy. Why should gamers care about net neutrality and broadband deployment? Are there policy solutions to the dreaded “lag” problem? How do free trade and intellectual property fit in the mix? Evan discusses all this and more with Mike Gallagher, President and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers.
Recently, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). The bill is gaining co-sponsors and support on both sides of the aisle, and virtually everyone agrees that sex trafficking is a very real problem that Congress needs to address. But the bill is also getting pushback from voices across the spectrum, including right- and left-leaning civil society groups and tech companies big and small.
Supporters of SESTA argue that long-standing intermediary liability protections for web platforms are enabling sex trafficking, citing the website Backpage.com, whose founders knowingly profited from and facilitated sex crimes. Critics of SESTA caution that the safe harbor in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a bedrock of Internet freedom, and warn that the bill would actually undermine cooperation between law enforcement and tech companies. Evan discusses with TechFreedom’s Berin Szoka and Ashkhen Kazaryan. For more, see our coalition letter.
Sex offenders are often banned from playgrounds and schoolyards, but what about social networks? Should policymakers treat the virtual world the same as the real world? North Carolina passed a law in 2008 banning sex offenders from accessing websites where information is exchanged and minors can participate, including social media platforms like Facebook. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the North Carolina law violates free speech, meaning sex offenders can use Facebook as long as they’re not using it to commit crimes. What does this case mean for digital free speech? How should policymakers proceed from here? Evan is joined by Katie Glenn, Policy Counsel at the 1st Amendment Partnership. For more, check out their website.