Since the Federal Trade Commission began bringing data security enforcement actions in 2002, no court had ruled on the substantive merits of the FTC’s approach. A panel of three Eleventh Circuit judges decisively rejected the FTC’s use of broad, vague consent decrees, in the LabMD v Federal Trade Commission ruling that the Commission may only bar specific practices, and cannot require a company “to overhaul and replace its data-security program to meet an indeterminable standard of reasonableness.” We are joined by TechFreedom’s President Berin Szóka and Legal Fellow Graham Owens. They explain why this case is so crucial, what’s next for the FTC and what policy changes can be on the horizon.
The FBI has been a vocal critic of the spread of encryption, often citing the nearly 8,000 devices connected to crimes that were inaccessible to law enforcement last year as evidence that increased device security represents a major threat to law enforcement. But a recent Washington Post article revealed that this number was seriously inflated due to “programming error,” with the real value estimated at around 1,200. Robyn Greene, the policy counsel and government affairs lead for the Open Technology Institute joins the show to discuss what this mistake means for the future of encryption policy. For more, see this letter led by OTI and signed by TechFreedom calling on the Inspector General to investigate the FBI and DOJ’s handling of the error, as well as Greene’s other work.
While sharing economy business models have revolutionized transportation in many ways, the aviation industry has been a notable exception, thanks to outdated regulations that stifle such behavior. However, the Aviation Empowerment Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, attempts to change that by updating and clarifying FAA rules that have held back innovation. To discuss what this bill means for the future of aviation, we’re joined by Chris Koopman, Senior Director of Strategy and Research for the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University. See the full text of the bill here, and some of Koopman’s past work on flightsharing here.
In recent hearings, congressional Republicans have accused social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube of stifling conservative content. Some, such as Sen. Ted Cruz, have called for a “Fairness Doctrine” for the Internet. Cruz reasoned that “in order to be protected by Section 230, companies like Facebook should be ‘neutral public forums.’ But would this policy approach, which failed to encourage ideological diversity in broadcasting, work any better when applied to the Internet? How might this undermine important protections that have allowed free speech to flourish online? TechFreedom President Berin Szóka and General Counsel Jim Dunstan join the show to discuss. For more, see Szóka's oral and written testimonies before the House Judiciary Committee on the subject.
WHOIS, the system used for querying databases of information on domain name registrations and IP addresses, has been a vital tool for journalists, security researchers and law enforcement in identifying and tracking spammers, phishers, identity thieves and other cybercriminals. However, when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation takes effect on May 25, the service will heavily limited or possibly shut down completely in order to comply with privacy requirements. How will this impact cybersecurity? Does WHOIS raise legitimate privacy concerns? Shane Tews, President of Logan Circle Strategies, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Tim Chen, CEO of DomainTools, join the show to discuss. For more, see Shane’s piece on the subject, Tim’s white papers, and TechFreedom President Berin Szóka’s blog post on ICANN’s IANA transition.
The growing pace of technological innovation means both regulators and established industries are finding it increasingly harder to keep up. How do companies adapt (or fail to adapt) to new disruptions in their industries? How can regulators address new technology without causing harmful unintended consequences? Author Larry Downes joins the show to discuss. For more, see Larry’s books The Laws of Disruption and Big Bang Disruption, and his recent article in the Harvard Business Review.
President Donald Trump has been vocal to criticize those he deems political opponents. However, these criticisms often extend to threats of legal action, particularly against the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post and Amazon. Trump has set aside decades of precedent and involved himself directly in a number of enforcement actions, often in ways that would benefit him or his political allies. How lawful is this kind of intervention? And how can the rest of the government resist inappropriate political meddling? Justin Florence, Legal Director for Protect Democracy, and TechFreedom President Berin Szóka join the show to discuss. For more, see their joint op-ed in the Seattle Times, and Protect Democracy’s filing in the antitrust case against the AT&T/Time Warner merger.
In recent decades, Congress has struggled to enact laws that keep up with the breakneck pace technological innovation. This pace shows no signs of slowing, and with major implications for healthcare, transportation, privacy and other key social and economic issues, it’s more important than ever for Congress to be properly informed on tech issues. We’re joined by the R Street Institute’s Zach Graves and Kevin Kosar, who argue in their recent paper “Bring in the Nerds,” that reviving the Office of Technology Assessment — an expert advisory agency that gave guidance to Congress in shaping tech policy until it was shuttered in 1995 — could help bridge this gap.
Earlier this month, IEE Spectrum broke the story that Silicon Valley startup Swarm Technologies had launched several experimental satellites through the commercial arm of India’s space agency, despite being denied authorization by the FCC. The case illustrates the complexity of the licensing process for satellites, both in the US and internationally. Space lawyer Jim Dunstan joins the show to discuss the ramifications of this launch, and how the process could be improved. For more, see part 1, part 2, and part 3 of our series on space law with Jim.
The Food and Drug Administration’s 2016 Deeming Rule classified e-cigarettes and other vaping materials as tobacco products and imposed strict regulations on what vaping entrepreneurs can say to their customers, even though advocates say these technologies can reduce the harm from smoking and help some smokers quit entirely. In response, the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is taking FDA officials to court on behalf of small business owners on the grounds that the rules violate free speech and were enacted unconstitutionally. Joining us is Thomas Berry, Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation who is leading this legal effort.