Tech Policy Podcast
#332: Facial Recognition Technology

#332: Facial Recognition Technology

November 22, 2022

Facial recognition technology is a powerful tool. Whatever we do with it—whatever rules we set around its use—we should proceed thoughtfully and cautiously, keeping a close eye on the costs and benefits of deploying it. Jane Bambauer, a law professor at the University of Arizona College of Law, joins the show for just such a thoughtful, cautious, cost-benefit driven discussion, with a focus on the use of facial recognition by law enforcement. For more, see Prof. Bambauer’s recent paper, Facial Recognition as a Less Bad Option, published by the Hoover Institution.

#331: Section 230’s Long Path to SCOTUS

#331: Section 230’s Long Path to SCOTUS

October 31, 2022

The Supreme Court has never heard a Section 230 case—until now. Earlier this month, the justices agreed to review Gonzalez v. Google, in which the plaintiffs argue that YouTube’s “targeted recommendation” of videos falls outside Section 230 immunity. How did we get Section 230? Why is it important? What would the Internet look like without it? Emma Llansó, director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, joins the show to explain how Section 230 came to be, how it has been implemented over the last quarter century, why Congress’s one amendment of it (via FOSTA) was a disaster, and why the upcoming Supreme Court case is so crucial.

#330: The FTC & FCC in Court

#330: The FTC & FCC in Court

October 12, 2022

Independent federal agencies sit awkwardly in our constitutional structure. When they engage in aggressive overreach, therefore, they should expect to see their actions challenged in court. This episode centers around two such challenges. In Axon v. FTC, a case the Supreme Court will hear this term, the plaintiff challenges the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission’s internal tribunal. And in Consumers’ Research v. FCC, a set of cases currently in the federal courts of appeals, the petitioners challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s power to raise money without congressional oversight. Our guest is Trent McCotter, a partner with Boyden Gray & Associates and the director of the Separation of Powers Clinic at the C. Boyden Gray Center at Antonin Scalia Law School. He and host Corbin Barthold discuss Axon, Consumers’ Research, and the cases’ various implications for the separation of powers.

#329: Will Rinehart’s Wild Weird Brain

#329: Will Rinehart’s Wild Weird Brain

September 30, 2022

Will Rinehart is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity. In this episode, a wide-ranging discussion of his work, he expands on whether the FDA should declare aging a disease, how to measure broadband access (and best allocate broadband funding), what we can learn from last year’s Facebook blackout, and why we need an abundance agenda. From the nitty-gritty details of policy to big-picture questions about our future, Will is thinking about it all. You can find out more about his various projects, including several he mentioned on the show, at his website.

#328: What’s the Deal with European Antitrust?

#328: What’s the Deal with European Antitrust?

September 19, 2022

What is driving Europe’s aggressive antitrust enforcement against American tech companies? Are there legitimate antitrust concerns? Or are all the fines, taxes, investigations, and restrictions better thought of as protectionist tariffs? Dirk Auer, director of competition policy at the International Center for Law & Economics, joins the show to discuss.

#327: The Collapse of Complex Societies

#327: The Collapse of Complex Societies

August 31, 2022

Is the end near? In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic—and with the specters of political violence, debt crises, secular stagnation, climate change, and resource depletion before us—the potential for societal collapse is (unfortunately) a hot topic. Is collapse inevitable? What are the signs that a society is on the road to collapse? Where are we along that path? Dr. Joseph Tainter, author of the seminal 1988 book The Collapse of Complex Societies, joins the show to discuss these questions and more.

#326: Content Moderation Potpourri

#326: Content Moderation Potpourri

August 16, 2022

Content moderation is, as ever, an interesting, contentious, and fast-paced policy area. TechFreedom’s Corbin Barthold, Andy Jung, and Santana Boulton sit down for a late-summer content moderation news roundup. They cover (among other things) Andy’s recent article on AB 2408, a misguided attempt by California to combat teenage social media addiction; YouTube’s recent Supreme Court brief in Gonzalez v. Google, a case about whether Section 230 protects algorithmic recommendations (spoiler alert: it does); Santana’s essay arguing that algorithms are speech protected by the First Amendment; and Corbin’s recent piece in Techdirt, “Two Dogmas of the Free Speech Panic,” a response to those who equate content moderation with “censorship.”

#325: Live: Quinta Jurecic on Jan. 6, Social Media, and the Great Rage

#325: Live: Quinta Jurecic on Jan. 6, Social Media, and the Great Rage

July 26, 2022

Hello from TechFreedom’s 2022 Policy Summit! The panelists at this year’s gathering discussed truth decay and misinformation, the collapse of trust in experts, and the future of free speech and social media. In this live recording from the event, Lawfare’s Quinta Jurecic explores those themes and more while discussing the January 6 Committee, Trump’s election “Big Lie,” the difficulty of combatting online extremism, the insanity that is Steve Bannon, and the fraying of American civic life. For more, see “The Great Rage,” a must-read essay Quinta published in The Atlantic.

#324: Parler Games

#324: Parler Games

July 11, 2022

Is “Big Tech censorship” really a thing? If so, are the social media giants facing effective competition from sites that style themselves as free speech alternatives? What does it mean to be a free speech platform, anyway? Parler’s Chief Policy Officer, Amy Peikoff, discusses these questions and much more with TechFreedom’s Corbin Barthold and Ari Cohn. Needless to say, the talk of the deal between Elon Musk and Twitter, at the top of the episode, was recorded before Musk declared that he wants out! Amy’s law review article on privacy, mentioned toward the end of the show, is available here.

#323: Florida & Texas vs. the Internet

#323: Florida & Texas vs. the Internet

June 29, 2022

Last year, Florida and Texas passed draconian social media speech regulations. Each law violates the First Amendment, and, not surprisingly, each was blocked by a federal trial court. On appeal, however, things got weird. Although one appellate court affirmed most of the ruling against Florida’s law (SB 7072), another let Texas’s (HB 20) go into immediate effect. In an emergency order, the Supreme Court re-blocked the Texas law—for now. A further ruling by the justices, probably next year, is all but inevitable. TechFreedom’s Corbin Barthold and Ari Cohn break down the situation. For more, see a recent article by Corbin, “Trumpism on the Bench?,” published at The Bulwark; a recent article by TechFreedom’s Berin Szóka, “Mass Shooting Videos Are Protected Under These Awful Laws,” published at The Daily Beast; and Corbin’s and Berin’s joint essay “No, Florida Can’t Regulate Online Speech,” published at Lawfare.

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