#162: Should Government Pay for Broadband?

March 7, 2017

Should the government pay for broadband? In his joint address to Congress, President Trump laid out plans to spend a lot of taxpayer money on infrastructure. Many in the tech community want some of that money to go toward broadband, but will that actually help get people online? What about subsidies? Uncle Sam has long subsidized telephone service for low-income Americans. Will broadband subsidies bridge the Digital Divide? Evan is joined by Will Rinehart, Director of Tech and Innovation Policy at the American Action Forum.


Will’s blog, “How Well Do Rural Broadband Subsidies Work?”
Coalition letter opposing FCC action on Lifeline
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s response on Medium


#161: Spying on the World

February 28, 2017

Innocent Americans don’t like getting spied on by their government. But should they care when their government spies on foreigners? Countries do this all the time for intelligence purposes, right? Congress even authorized our government to do this in Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

But in the Digital Age, it’s increasingly common for large swaths of the American public to communicate with people outside the country. That leads to U.S. residents being caught in the foreign surveillance dragnet, and their communications collected without a warrant. Current laws allow the NSA and other agencies to share information with your local police department. Could you end up in jail without due process?

As Section 702 nears its December expiration date, should Congress reform the law, or just reauthorize it as is? Meanwhile, what does the European Union think? Will fears over American surveillance lead nations to “localize their Internet?” Evan is joined by Jake Laperruque, Privacy Fellow at the Constitution Project and Ashkhen Kazaryan, Legal Fellow at TechFreedom. For more, see Jake’s blog post on Section 702.


#160: Privacy at the Border

February 22, 2017

What are the privacy rights of non-US citizens? The Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigration has dominated the headlines. But while most of the focus is understandably on detentions and deportations, privacy could actually decide who stays and who goes in some cases. A recent executive order reverses long-standing policies that gave certain non-US persons rights under the Privacy Act, including limits on dissemination and the right to access information and seek corrections. How will this impact immigrants and refugees? What role should Congress play? Evan discusses with Neema Guliani, Legislative Counsel for the ACLU in DC.


#159: Next-Gen TV

February 17, 2017

Are you a “cord-cutter?” Did your ditch your cable bundle for Netflix? Or, maybe you remembered that you can still get over-the-air television for free with a cheap antennae? Watching NFL games in high-def for free is pretty sweet, but wouldn’t it be even sweeter if the games were in 4K or Ultra HD?

The technology might be right around the corner for households, as broadcasters have invented a new standard, ATSC 3.0 — a thoroughly unsexy acronym better known as “Next-Gen TV” — that can bring 4K to your over-the-air signal. Will the FCC approve the new standard? How will this affect competition in the 4K marketplace? What else can consumers expect from the new standard? Evan is joined by two experts from the National Association of Broadcasters: Allison Neplokh, Vice President of Spectrum Policy, and Patrick McFadden, Associate General Counsel.


#158: Who Owns Your Data?

February 14, 2017

Property rights in the US are rooted in the physical world — your house and your car are yours. But does this concept transfer to the digital world? It’s not so simple. When you share data about yourself in exchange for free services, who owns the data? You? The company? Third-party advertisers? This question is a lightning rod in tech policy debates over privacy, data security, and government surveillance. There may not be an easy answer, but in the meantime, how can individuals get a piece of the action? Matt Hogan, CEO of DataCoup, joins the show to discuss his business model and how you can monetize your data (or donate to a non-profit...cough cough TechFreedom). If you like this podcast as much as you hate opening your wallet, check out GiveWithData.com. It won’t cost you a cent!


#157: Counterpoint on Trump’s FCC

February 9, 2017

If you're a regular listener of this podcast, you've probably heard many episodes where TechFreedom President Berin Szóka rants about telecom and the FCC. That's always fun, of course, but on today's show we're bringing you a different view. For those who supported much of the Obama-era FCC's policies, how are they reacting to President Trump? Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge, joins the show to discuss. TF and PK are often at odds on telecom policy, but is there room for common ground on legislation?


#156: Car Talk

February 7, 2017

“Connected cars” are increasingly a staple of modern life. Today, that might just mean that your car has a 4G connection to distract your kids during a long drive. But as the “Internet of Things” continues to grow, having a connected car will mean a lot more than streaming Netflix for your backseat passengers. How will cars communicate with the roads, highways, and with each other? Recently, the Federal Highway Administration issued guidelines on how connected vehicles should interact with connected infrastructure (V2I communications). Marc Scribner, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, joins the show to discuss. For more, see his blog post.


#155: Supreme Court of Tech

February 2, 2017

This week, President Trump announced his pick to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who currently serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, has sparked a lot of controversy among progressives over social issues, but what about his views on tech? With a solid record on warrant requirements and 4th Amendment issues, should the Left find comfort in having “another Scalia” on the Court? Gorsuch has been critical of the growing power of the Executive and regulatory state. Does his nomination mean the end of “Chevron deference" for the FCC and FTC? Evan discusses with Berin and Ash Kazaryan, TechFreedom Legal Fellow.


#154: Augmented Reality and Poképolicy

January 31, 2017

When Pokémon Go launched last summer, 40 million people were playing the game within weeks. The game provided entertainment, an excuse for kids to get off their asses, and a slew of funny — and not-so-funny — accidents involving pedestrians and drivers playing the game in the wrong place and time. This phenomenon was also the first time many Americans had ever heard of or experienced “augmented reality,” where artificial elements (like Pokémon) are superimposed onto our physical surroundings.

The game’s rapid rise caused the predictable backlash over health and public safety and kneejerk calls for regulation. But getting beyond traffic safety, what are the short- and long-term policy implications of augmented reality? What does it mean for privacy, data security, surveillance, and intellectual property? Anne Hobson, Tech Policy Fellow at R Street joins the show. For more, see her report.


#153: Trump Picks Ajit Pai for FCC Chair

January 27, 2017

Early this week, the White House confirmed that President Trump picked FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to chair the agency. This means that Republicans have a 2-1 majority until the vacancies can be filled by candidates confirmed by the Senate. While some of his more hysterical critics pull their hair out over the impending “death of the Open Internet,” others are looking forward to a new direction at the FCC. Hopefully this is characterized by a renewed spirit of bipartisanship on a wide range of telecom issues, including net neutrality and broadband deployment. Pai has proposed “Gigabit Opportunity Zones” to jumpstart broadband in both urban and rural low-income communities. What else can we expect from the new FCC? Evan and Berin discuss.