July 29, 2014 - Notwithstanding Texas politician Jim Hightower's observation (courtesy of Commissioner Ajit Pai of the Federal Communications Commission) that "there is nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos," it is a time-honored government tradition to frame an issue so that the preferred option is the one in the middle. This appears to be what Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has in mind as he navigates the open Internet minefield. However, the middle ground is not as safe as it might seem.
July 28, 2014 - There is no evidence that big data results in discrimination against particular groups, states Technology Policy Institute President Thomas Lenard in comments filed with the Federal Trade Commission. The use of big data instead actually benefits lower-income consumers and helps companies make more accurate decisions. The comments are in response to a call for input on issues related to the upcoming workshop, "Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?"
July 22, 2014 - Attempts to mitigate the harms associated with digital piracy have yielded a variety of approaches, including legal digital sales channels, government intervention (such as the shutdown of Megaupload), and voluntary industry-level cooperation (such as the Copyright Alert System in the U.S.). Participants on the panel "Copyright Protection: Government vs. Voluntary Arrangements" at this year's TPI Aspen Forum will discuss empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these initiatives, and legal and policy theories regarding the appropriateness of these initiatives to serve the interests of the creative industries, the technology industries, and society.
July 17, 2014 - Calls for a new Telecommunications Act have been growing, with proponents citing problems with the FCC's "siloed" structure in light of the increasing convergence of industries that compete in each other's markets. However, similar concerns motivated the 1996 legislation. How has the political landscape changed since the 1996 Act, and can new legislation be successful? Participants on the panel, "Political Economy of Telecom Reform" at this year's TPI Aspen Forum will discuss such questions as: what, beyond market and technological changes, is motivating calls for telecom reform now; how can the process surrounding the 1996 Act inform development of a new Act today; what interest groups are involved, what are their incentives, and how have these groups and their interests changed since 1996?
July 14, 2014 - In the most recent attempt to draft network neutrality rules, the Federal Communications Commission has again failed to provide the data or analysis needed to show the proposed rules are necessary, would help consumers, or pass a cost-benefit test, states Technology Policy Institute's Thomas Lenard in comments sent today to the FCC. In addition, the three proposed provisions are either unnecessary or potentially harmful.