#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.

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#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.

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#152: Uber Dodges Bullet in Maryland

January 24, 2017

The holidays are a time to eat, drink, and be merry. That last one might have been an issue for residents of Maryland if ridesharing had disappeared on December 23, two days before Christmas. That's because state regulators had until December 22 to decide whether Uber and Lyft would have to fingerprint their drivers as part of background checks. If fingerprinting were mandated, the two companies would have ceased operations in Maryland, just as they did in Austin (Episode #79). Fortunately for Maryland, state regulators chose not to impose a fingerprinting mandate, and residents had access to convenient ridesharing options over the holidays. How did Uber dodge this bullet? Why is fingerprinting such a big deal? Elsewhere, people in upstate New York still can't use ridesharing. Why the hell not? Our favorite sharing economy analyst Jared Meyer joins the show to discuss. For more, see Jared's op-eds in The American Spectator and Reason.

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#151: 16 Going on 17

January 19, 2017

We're back! After a not-so-brief holiday hiatus, we'll be back in your favorite podcast app with normal regularity -- meaning 2-3 episodes per week but sometimes different. Anyway... Evan and Berin recap some of TechFreedom's favorite issues of 2016, look ahead to 2017, and make baseless predictions on what might happen in tech policy. 150 episodes in one year ain't bad, right? But can you leave us a damn review on ITunes already?

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#150: If Hotels Could Regulate Airbnb

January 5, 2017

If the hotel lobby had its way, what would happen to Airbnb? Well, we don’t have to wonder, because the American Hotel and Lodging Association has released model legislation to regulate short-term rentals. Will the bill level the playing field between online homesharing platforms and hotels? Or is this just an attempt by the AHLA to insulate its members from competition? Evan discusses the bill with Matt Kiessling, Vice President of Short-Term Rental Policy at Travel Tech.

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