#190: Thinking Outside the (X)Box

August 15, 2017

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.


#189: Fighting Online Sex Trafficking

August 11, 2017

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.


#188: Sex Offenders and Social Media

August 4, 2017

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.


#187: Engaging Cuba

July 28, 2017

Like most things in Cuba, the Internet is complicated. While only a tiny percentage of homes have WiFi, nearly a third of Cubans went online in 2016, and the growing private sector is increasingly digital. While the previous administration opened up relations with Cuba in 2014, President Trump announced a rollback of some of those reforms in a speech in Miami last month. How will the potential changes affect Cuba’s digital future? Evan is joined by Celia Mendoza, founder of Concierge Havana, a travel agency geared toward American visitors to Cuba; Robin Pedraja, founder of Vistar, a magazine focused on culture and entertainment and the first independent media outlet in Cuba; and Michael Maisel, Director of External Affairs at Engage Cuba.


#186: Road to the Driverless Future Part 2 (Mass Transit)

July 14, 2017

As the autonomous future approaches, what will it mean for public transit? Cities across the world are testing new technologies, such as collision avoidance and emergency braking, in their transit systems. But the changes won’t just be limited to our vehicles, as credit card companies and payment apps get it on the action, too. What can the U.S. learn from Finland’s approach? Will fears over cybersecurity and privacy hold back the automation of public transit? Will workers feel threatened by new tech? How will labor unions respons? Evan is joined by Darnell Grisby, Director of Policy Development and Research at the American Public Transportation Association. For more, check out apta.com/resources.


#185: Law Enforcement Seeks Data Abroad

July 10, 2017

In the Digital Age, your data could be stored anywhere in the world, regardless of where you live. So what happens when your police department is investigating a crime in the United States, but the relevant data are stored in Ireland? Do you need a U.S. warrant, or an Irish one? How much of a problem for law enforcement is cross-border data? What kinds of agreements can nations strike to facilitate investigations without trampling on civil liberties and human rights? Evan is joined by Jennifer Daskal, Associate Professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, and Drew Mitnick, Policy Counsel at Access Now. For more, see Drew’s five-part blog series and Jennifer’s latest post.


#184: Sex Toy Hacking

June 30, 2017

Are vibrators, dildos, and other sex toys the next frontier in hacking and surveillance? Some tech experts say this creepy scenario has already arrived. Hackers have already broken into Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected dildos through password hacks, remote access, and script overrides. Evan is joined by Amie Stepanovich, US Policy Manager at Access Now, and Arthur Rizer, Senior Fellow at R Street. They discuss teledildonics, personal privacy, and the serious implications of sex you hacking. For more, see their op-ed in Wired.


#183: Is the Sharing Economy Progressive?

June 27, 2017

Cities like San Francisco and New York are at the cutting edge of technology. But are "progressives" friends or foes of innovation? City councils across the U.S. have had their share of spats with companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. Does the sharing economy pose problems for progressive values like job security and healthcare? Is all the focus on large, mostly Democratic cities distracting from anti-tech Republicans and conservatives? Evan is joined by Jared Meyer, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability, and author of How Progressive Cities Fight Innovation. For more, buy his book on Amazon and follow him on Twitter.


#182: Powering the Internet

June 23, 2017

The Internet is nothing without electricity, and the increased demand for data and expanding “Internet of Things” means we need more and more power to stay online. One billion people worldwide lack electricity, and four billion remain offline. Bridging the Digital Divide will involve more data centers, wireless networks, smartphones, and other equipment that will strain energy grids. But could the Internet also be part of the solution to global power needs? Evan is joined by Nilmini Rubin, Vice President of Tetra Tech, a global engineering and consulting company.


#181: NextGen Air Traffic

June 20, 2017

Is our air traffic control (ATC) system outdated? The White House seems to think so. A couple weeks back, the president announced his support for transferring ATC from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a nonprofit corporation governed by a board of directors, including representatives of airlines, unions, airports and others. The FAA has struggled for years to upgrade its technology from radar to GPS, and proponents of ATC reform say “privatizing” ATC will enable a NextGen system. Opponents say ATC reform could undermine labor unions, increase costs of travel, and give corporations too much control of our airspace. Evan discusses the pros and cons with Marc Scribner, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Baruch Feigenbaum Assistant Director of Transportation Policy at the Reason Foundation. For more, see Marc’s FAQ on ATC reform.