Tech Policy Podcast
#288: The State of Data Privacy Law

#288: The State of Data Privacy Law

April 7, 2021

Data privacy is a complex and dynamic policy field. Lydia de la Torre, an inaugural board member of the new California Privacy Protection Agency, and Alan Friel, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs, join the show to help make some sense of it. They discuss the history of privacy policy, the growing influence of European privacy principles, and the new privacy laws we are seeing, or can expect, at the state and federal levels here in the United States.

#287: No, Florida Can’t Regulate Online Speech

#287: No, Florida Can’t Regulate Online Speech

March 24, 2021

Florida is poised to enact a law limiting social media websites’ ability to ban or moderate users. TechFreedom's Berin Szóka and Corbin Barthold discuss whether the bill is constitutional, and whether it would really protect speech (spoiler alert: no and no). For more, see their essay on the bill in Lawfare, a TechFreedom paper on Section 230 and the First Amendment, and a previous podcast episode on efforts to apply the Fairness Doctrine to the Internet. 

If you’ve already heard us explain why the First Amendment protects content moderation and just want to hear why the Florida law’s special protections for political candidates are also unconstitutional, skip forward to 23:55. And here’s the 1979 Supreme Court decision in Midwest Video II explaining how, in 1934, Congress rejected proposals to require broadcasters to “turn over their microphones to persons wishing to speak.”

#286: How Algorithms Can Fight Extremism

#286: How Algorithms Can Fight Extremism

March 8, 2021

What can social-media platforms do to address growing concerns about extremism on their sites? Research suggests that YouTube, for one, has made great strides in driving viewers of radical messages toward more mainstream content. As new forms of misinformation arise, YouTube has succeeded in quickly adjusting its algorithmic recommendations. Dr. Anna Zaitsev is a postdoctoral scholar at the UC Berkeley School of Information, and the co-author of the paper “Algorithmic extremism: Examining YouTube’s rabbit hole of radicalization.” She joins the show to discuss her research on YouTube’s recommendation system, and what it takes to spot, block, and demote ever-evolving extremist content.

#285: Data Rights for Criminal Defendants

#285: Data Rights for Criminal Defendants

February 24, 2021

Data plays an increasingly important role in our criminal justice system, yet there are serious inequalities in prosecutors’ and defendants’ rights of access to it. Rebecca Wexler, assistant professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and faculty co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, joins the show to discuss the growing role that data plays in criminal investigations and trials; the asymmetries in access to data, code, and more; and how we might reform the criminal justice system’s approach to science and technology.

#284: The Revolt of the Public

#284: The Revolt of the Public

February 16, 2021

The events of the last few years have shown the clear impact that movements beginning online can have in the real world. Social media platforms, as well as the legacy media and the government, have struggled to adapt to this development. Martin Gurri, former CIA analyst, Mercatus Center visiting research fellow, and author of The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, joins the show to discuss the technologically driven fragmentation of narratives, what this means for society, and the broader challenges facing political and media elites and institutions. For more, check out The Revolt of the Public, see Martin’s work in Discourse Magazine, and read his recent article on the rise of post-journalism in City Journal.

#283: Privacy and Surveillance in China

#283: Privacy and Surveillance in China

January 10, 2021

China’s approach to surveillance, particularly its dystopian-sounding Social Credit System, has raised serious human rights concerns, particularly in its treatment of minority groups. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, associate professor at the University of Texas’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, joins the show to discuss China’s surveillance policies and the influence it could have on privacy around the world.

#282: Tech and the Biden Administration

#282: Tech and the Biden Administration

December 22, 2020

What can the tech industry expect from the incoming Biden administration? Emily Birnbaum, tech policy reporter at Protocol, joins the show to discuss President-elect Biden and his team’s likely approach to antitrust, Section 230, the gig economy, and artificial intelligence.

#281: Should companies be allowed to acquire their start-up competitors?

#281: Should companies be allowed to acquire their start-up competitors?

December 8, 2020

Policymakers across the political spectrum are using antitrust law to attack established companies’ acquisitions of smaller competitors. But are these “nascent acquisitions” inherently harmful? Asheesh Agarwal, TechFreedom’s deputy general counsel and competition counsel, and Andy Jung, a law clerk at TechFreedom, join the show to provide some historical context. They argue that nascent acquisitions often benefit both entrepreneurs and consumers. For more, see their new paper, The Long and Successful History of Nascent Acquisitions Suggests Caution in Rethinking Antitrust Enforcement.

#280: Section 230, Antitrust, and Consumer Protection

#280: Section 230, Antitrust, and Consumer Protection

November 25, 2020

The Global Antitrust Institute’s Report on the Digital Economy is out! Berin Szóka, the founder of TechFreedom, returns to the show to discuss his chapter, Section 230: An Introduction for Antitrust & Consumer Protection Practitioners. On tap: the history of Section 230; how it applies in antitrust and consumer-protection cases; l’affaire Federalist; adventures in futile litigation; Internet Darwinism; and more. Be sure to check out the full GAI report.

#279: Revising Section 230 Will Silence Marginalized Voices

#279: Revising Section 230 Will Silence Marginalized Voices

November 8, 2020

Social media content moderation has been a hot topic for policymakers throughout the election, with a particular focus on the liability protections offered by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Billy Easley, senior policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity, joins the show to discuss how proposals to limit the scope of Section 230 would harm free speech online, particularly for marginalized communities. For more, see his recent op-ed in Slate.

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