TAP Media Feed

Fact Sheets

Patent Reform  New

A patent is an exclusive legal right to own and market an invention or improvement for a limited period of time, in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.

Cloud Computing  New

“Cloud computing” describes how computer-related services and software increasingly have been provided over the Internet and other networks since the late 1990s.

High Skilled Immigration Reform  New

The United States immigration policy is the set of laws and provisions that regulates the entry and the stay of non-US citizens on national territory. High-skilled, college-educated immigrants contribute to scientific and technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and job-creation in the U.S.

About Us

Technology – Academics – Policy (TAP), a “virtual think tank,” is a valuable resource designed to inform interested parties – from policymakers to the media – and spark a constructive dialogue about U.S. public policy issues involving technology and innovation.

Broadband Access and Infrastructure

High-speed Internet access – often referred to as “broadband” – is a set of technologies that, taken together, are recognized as a potential catalyst for global economic and social change.

Comparative Antitrust

In the United States, “antitrust law” refers to the body of State and Federal laws that prohibits unlawful agreements and practices by firms with market power that harm competition. Europe, Asia and Latin America call the governance of market competition “competition law”.

Global Antitrust (Competition)

The laws that set the ground rules prohibiting firms from engaging in anti-competitive practices are usually called “antitrust laws” in the United States, and “competition laws” in Europe and other regions. These laws differ among nations, and each country enforces its laws independently.

Government Procurement

“Procurement” is the process by which governments choose to obtain and buy goods and services from the private sector.

Health Information Technology

“Health Information Technology” or Health IT encompasses a wide range of hardware and software products used by patients, doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, insurers or other participants in the healthcare ecosystem to process and store data and communications related to health care.

Innovation

Innovation is a word used to describe new ideas and inventions that have impact – impact to consumers, to markets, to industries, to the economy as a whole, and even to society and culture.

Interoperability

When two or more devices, systems, or networks are made to work together, the systems are said to be “interoperable.” Interoperability issues often arise when systems offered by different firms are deployed simultaneously, or when old and new versions of a product from the same firm are deployed.

Net Neutrality

Given the significance of the Internet, preserving its “openness” – an idea often referred to as “network neutrality” or “net neutrality” – has been a long-standing issue.

Piracy and IP Enforcement

In the context of technology, “piracy” is a colloquial term for the illegal copying of copyrighted works. The related problem of counterfeiting is the illegal reproduction of patented or trademarked products.

Privacy and Consumers

There are a number of privacy issues related to how online companies collect, store, use and share personally identifiable information; and how consumers are informed about what is done with their information online.

Search Engines, Advertising, and Auctions

Search engines – such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and a variety of other smaller search engines – help users find what they are looking for online by finding web pages that match user-entered keywords. Search engines are free to users, but typically earn revenue through paid advertising.

Social Networking

Social networking websites are places on the Internet where people can connect with those who share their interests. Additionally, they can function as economic “platforms” that serve different groups of many users, including consumers, advertisers, game developers, and others. 

Software Patents

A patent provides an exclusive legal right to an invention for a limited period of time, in exchange for public disclosure of that innovation. As with other property rights, patents may be sold, transferred, or licensed for a third party’s use.

Wireless and Mobile Communications

Wireless or “mobile” devices send information one-to-one (like mobile phones), one-to-many (like AM or FM radio), or many-to-many (like Wi-Fi Internet access). Wireless devices send and receive signals along the electromagnetic spectrum in the form of waves similar to visible light or sound.

Quotes

The Pope Is Wrong About the Internet and Teenagers

Source: The Washington Post

8/6/2014

The article explores the Pope’s pronouncement that “young people waste too many hours on futile things” such as “chatting on the Internet or with smartphones.” danah boyd, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and Chief Instigator at the Data & Society Research Institute, has studied teen social interactions using the Internet. Ms. Boyd and her book, It’s Complicated, the Social Lives of Networked Teens are quoted.


“Today’s teenagers have less freedom to wander than any previous generation. Many middle-class teenagers once grew up with the option to “do whatever you please, but be home by dark.” While race, socioeconomic class, and urban and suburban localities shaped particular dynamics of childhood, walking or bicycling to school was ordinary, and gathering with friends in public or commercial places—parks, malls, diners, parking lots, and so on—was commonplace… Fear often dictates the edges of mobility.”


And consequently, teens have to make up for this lost face time online. As Boyd goes on to note, “Most youth aren’t turning to social media because they can’t resist the lure of technology. They’re responding to a social world in which adults watch and curtail their practices and activities, justifying their protectionism as being necessary for safety. Social media has become an outlet for many youth, an opportunity to reclaim some sense of agency and have some semblance of social power. It has provided a window into society and an outlet for hanging out that these teens didn’t even know they had lost.”

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Teens Are Waging a Privacy War on the Internet - Why Marketers Should Listen

Source: Knowledge @ Wharton

8/5/2014

The article summarizes a talk that danah boyd, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and Chief Instigator at the Data & Society Research Institute, gave at a recent Wharton Web Conference.


Boyd … addressed how the very act of planning and building technology entangles us in larger cultural and political questions, the implications of which we are only beginning to understand.


Privacy is about much more than just solving technical issues of access control, Boyd stated. “That is not how people live and experience privacy. Privacy is in many ways about controlling the social situation.”


About Facebook, she quipped, “We can’t live with everybody we’ve ever met in the same room. It’s awkward.” She suggested that “the era of Facebook as the single platform for everybody was a complete anomaly” and added she is surprised that it lasted as long as it did. “The environment of fragmenting your services makes sense, in the same way that when you are in public spaces, you socialize in different bars or venues with different groups of people.”


Boyd told the audience of technology professionals that they were no longer just building technology, they were building a core aspect of society. She asked them to consider the larger effects of their day-to-day activities on issues of fairness, privacy, politics and culture. … Just because we can create something, Boyd asked, does that mean we should?

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Point of Despair: Father of Net Neutrality Tim Wu Talks about Tech Policy’s Worst Year

Source: The Verge

8/4/2014

In this interview with The Verge, Columbia law professor Tim Wu discusses his ballot fight for lieutenant governor of New York, tech policy’s terrible year, and why there may be new reason for optimism on net neutrality. Below are a few excerpts.


We have this huge problem of carrier consolidation right now, with Comcast being the most obvious. There’s just this new round coming. These guys are terrified of being what they should be, which is conduits. They want to build enough power to be able to extract money from the internet economy, essentially tax the internet economy. I don’t think it’s good for anybody — they already charge too much. The prices are ridiculous — in a way that’s not just like, aww, high prices. Because their cable bill is so high, people are feeding their children lower-quality food. It’s gotten to that level!


Net neutrality is a policy that lets smaller operators have some of the same advantages the big companies have. Someone who’s trying to compete with Netflix can start, take their shot, win or lose, and they’re more likely to win or lose based on the merits. There’s a real danger with the payments from Netflix, YouTube, these kind of companies, to Comcast: it becomes virtually impossible to challenge them unless you have the same kind of deal they do. This is the real challenge created by these side payments, it's whether they make the internet incumbents impossible to challenge.

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Nobody Is Neutral When It Comes to Net Neutrality

Source: Scientific American

5/27/2014

The article examines the legal and political hurdles with the FCC’s net neutrality proposal to reclassify the Internet as a public utility. Christopher Yoo, director for the Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, is quoted.


“The Chairman did something very canny,” says Christopher Yoo, a professor of law, communication and information science at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. By inviting comment on the public utility question, Wheeler made it possible for approval of the fast-lane proposal move forward while preserving a “nuclear” option to establish net neutrality at some future date, if necessary. But Yoo adds that, at this point, several factors make reclassification nearly impossible, including a massive broadband lobby that will do anything to prevent it from happening because it would entail a sharp increase in regulation.


According to Yoo, “The Internet simply doesn’t meet the definition” for a telecom service. As outlined in the statute, a telecom service transports data to an end point chosen by the user without tranforming it. For one thing, Yoo says, the Internet has too much data processing and storage going on, precluding it from being classified as a telecom service. “Points specified by the user” can be problematic as well, Yoo adds. For example, if a person in New York City points his or her Web browser to Google.com, that’s the site that will appear. But if that person then flies to Tokyo and types “Google.com” into a browser, it will be redirected to Google.co.jp. Between the Supreme Court decision and the statute, “as a legal matter I think that it’s going to be almost impossible,” to reclassify the Internet, Yoo says.

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Nobody Is Neutral When It Comes to Net Neutrality

Source: Scientific American

5/27/2014

The article examines the legal and political hurdles with the FCC’s net neutrality proposal to reclassify the Internet as a public utility. Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu argues that reclassification as a Title II telecommunications common carrier would be achievable.


Not everyone thinks reclassification would be prohibitively difficult, however. Tim Wu, the Columbia Law School professor who coined the term “net neutrality” in 2003, calls Yoo’s legal assessment “flat out wrong.” For one thing, in the 1990s when Internet access was transmitted over telephone lines it was classified as a Title II, or a telecommunications common carrier, “so it would actually be a return to an older approach,” Wu says. “Second, the Supreme Court made it clear in the Brand X decision that Title II classification was obvious and easy.” The problem with reclassification is not a legal one: “It’s political,” Wu says.

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The Lesson of the Power Loom

Source: Slate

5/21/2014

In this article written for Slate, James Bessen, Lecturer at the Boston University School of Law, discusses open innovation by examining the efforts of inventors during the Industrial Revolution. Below are a few excerpts.


During the early stage of a major new technology, inventors share designs and knowledge and patent little; later, things become more competitive and patents play a larger role. As technologies mature, firms share less and patent more.


During its [Apple’s] first decade, the company obtained just 14 patents, mostly on very specific features. ... As Steve Jobs famously declared, “[W]e have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” These included the idea of the graphical user interface, the MP3 player, and the tablet, which Apple borrowed and improved. Today, Apple is a bit different. In 2012 it obtained 1,236 patents, and during recent years it’s initiated more than 100 patent lawsuits around the world.


There are still plenty of areas where innovators develop new ideas and share them. Most software startups today, for example, do not patent, although more are doing so for defensive reasons. But history should remind developers that what is shared today might not be tomorrow.

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States Revise Laws to Curb 'Patent Trolls'

Source: Wall Street Journal

5/21/2014

The article examines states recent efforts to rewrite their laws to make it more difficult for so-called "patent trolls" to pursue small businesses over questionable patent claims. James Bessen, Boston University, is quoted.


"The vast majority of these lawsuits are from bottom-feeders that send out letters to all sorts of small companies," says James Bessen, a lecturer at Boston University School of Law, noting that small businesses will often pay a nuisance claim because it is less costly than hiring a lawyer. Only about 5% of the money paid to firms filing these claims goes to inventors, he said, based on his analysis.

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States Revise Laws to Curb 'Patent Trolls'

Source: Wall Street Journal

5/21/2014

The article examines states recent efforts to rewrite their laws to make it more difficult for so-called "patent trolls" to pursue small businesses over questionable patent claims. A report by Colleen Chien, currently working with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is referenced.


Forty percent of small firms that received demand letters from patent trolls delayed hiring, changed their product or business strategy or had other "significant" impacts on their operations, according to a 2012 study by Colleen Chien, an assistant professor of law at Santa Clara University who now works in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

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At Times, Netflix Movies Make Up a Third of Traffic

Source: National Public Radio’s Marketplace

5/15/2014

The story reports on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) proposal to reform net neutrality which could allow Internet service providers to charge for faster and higher-quality service. Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, Director of The Center for Internet and Society (CIS), is interviewed.


Marketplace: Netflix accounts for about a third of peak-period broadband traffic. So what does that mean for the net neutrality debate?


"I don't think it matters," says Barbara van Schewick, faculty director of the Center for Internet and Society at the Stanford Law School, "because under a good network neutrality regime, people pay for the bandwidth they use and it doesn't really matter where it comes from."


For example, think about the way we pay for electricity in the summer. A much larger portion of the energy we use is generated by air conditioners. "We don't say the electricity companies should be charging the air conditioning producers for the fact that they create all this demand for electricity," van Schewick says.

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Is an Internet 'Fast Lane' Inevitable?

Source: American Public Media’s Marketplace

5/15/2014

University of Pennsylvania law professor Christopher Yoo spoke to Marketplace about the recently-announced plans by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on net neutrality.


But Christopher Yoo, professor of Law, Communication, and Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that offering a pricing system for internet speed makes sense.


"If you force everything into a single class of service, you would force people who would have been willing to take slower service to pay more, and you would deny people really fast service the ability to get it at any price."


Others believe that the internet should be re-classified by the FCC as a common carrier. Yoo argues that in light of recent Supreme Court rulings, it would be difficult for the FCC to claim authority to do so.


"The 'Common Carrier' regime has always acknowledged that providers can create different classes of service as long as they charge everyone who wants that class of service the same amount....it wouldn’t prevent internet service providers from creating a fast lane in the first place."

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‘Net Neutrality’ Puts FCC at Center of Storm

Source: The Washington Post

5/14/2014

The article delves into reactions to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler‘s net-neutrality proposal. Barbara van Schewick’s efforts to raise awareness of the consequences of a proposed paid prioritization option for Internet traffic are outlined. Professor van Schewick is the director of Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society.


When the federal appeals court overturned the FCC’s first effort, in rules set under Wheeler’s predecessor, to codify net neutrality, Stanford University law professor Barbara van Schewick contacted dozens of high-tech firms in Silicon Valley to explain the ruling.


Van Schewick, who directs Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, flew multiple times to Washington to discuss the FCC’s plans and returned to the Bay Area to warn companies that they needed to pay more attention. She said the FCC’s proposal for new net-neutrality rules was based on a hodgepodge of legal definitions and warned that Wheeler would allow paid prioritization online.

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Don’t Force Google to ‘Forget’

Source: The New York Times

5/14/2014

In this op-ed piece for The New York Times, Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain shares his thoughts on a recent European Court of Justice’s ruling over the “right to be forgotten.” For the first time, the legal problem isn’t in the availability of material on the Web, but rather in its searchability. Below are a few excerpts.


According to the ruling, an individual can compel Google to remove certain reputation-harming search results that are generated by Googling the individual’s name. The court is trying to address an important problem — namely, the Internet’s ability to preserve indefinitely all its information about you, no matter how unfortunate or misleading — but it has devised a poor solution.


How an individual’s reputation is protected online is too important and subtle a policy matter to be legislated by a high court, which is institutionally mismatched to the evolving intricacies of the online world.


Google and company have not internalized just how significant that first page of search results has become to someone whose name has been queried. What they place on that page may do more than anything else in the world to define a stranger in others’ estimations.


Google, Bing and Yahoo should devote their considerable resources to mitigating this problem. If they don’t, search engine results may become increasingly dependent on where your keyboard is, rather than what you’re looking for. And the search engines may find themselves in a cat-and-mouse game of censorship and evasion, leading only to a fragmentation, not an improvement, of the web.

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Net-Neutrality Plan to Put FCC in a Thicket It Has Avoided

Source: Wall Street Journal

5/13/2014

The article examines Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s question to the Commission on whether the government should make a move the agency has long avoided: classifying broadband Internet as a public utility for regulatory purposes. Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, Director of The Center for Internet and Society (CIS), is cited.


Stanford Law professor Barbara Van Schewick said the FCC can't ban paid deals without reclassifying broadband. If the agency chooses to follow Mr. Wheeler's plan, she said, it must allow broadband providers to strike the deals with content companies to enforce the no-blocking rule.

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FCC Chair Cracks Door Open to Reclassifying Broadband as a Public Utility

Source: Ars Technica

5/12/2014

The article explains key points from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), a plan to regulate broadband networks. Woven throughout the article are excerpts from Stanford Professor Barbara van Schewick, Director of The Center for Internet and Society (CIS), and Morgan Weiland’s (CIS student fellow) blog post, “Evaluating the Chairman’s Revised Net Neutrality Proposal” is quoted.


van Schewick and Weiland concluded that the revision of the NPRM is a "significant step in the right direction, but [there is] still a long way to go."


"If we want to protect the Internet as a platform for free speech, application innovation, and economic growth, we need to ban pay-to-play access fees and adopt a bright-line non-discrimination rule that bans discrimination against applications or classes of applications," they wrote. "Users, entrepreneurs, investors, and public interest groups have already moved the debate in the right direction, getting reclassification off the table and into the NPRM. If we want an open Internet and the rules necessary to preserve it, we have to continue to make our voices heard and work hard to educate and convince the FCC, the White House, and members of Congress. The future of the Internet depends on it."

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Defending the Open Internet

Source: The New York Times

5/10/2014

This article explains the issues being debated from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed new network neutrality rules, and focuses on the work of Columbia law professor Tim Wu who developed the concept network neutrality and is an advocate for reclassifying the Internet as a public utility under Title II.


Tim Wu, 41, a law professor at Columbia University, isn’t a direct participant in the rule making, but he is influencing it. A dozen years ago, building on the work of more senior scholars, Mr. Wu developed a concept that is now a generally accepted norm. Called “net neutrality,” short for network neutrality, it is essentially this: The cable and telephone companies that control important parts of the plumbing of the Internet shouldn’t restrict how the rest of us use it.


Mr. Wu is one of the most influential voices arguing that net neutrality be fully protected by law and regulation, which, in his view, means treating the Internet like a regulated utility, for the good of all. That remedy may not happen immediately. But his opinion is nonetheless sought out by rule makers.


[But] The Internet preoccupied him. “I thought of it as a kind of perpetual frontier, the place where everyone gets a shot, where the underdogs have a chance. The Internet has been that. And I wanted some principles that would keep it that way.”


Mr. Wu and his allies argue that broadband carriers — basically the telephone and cable companies — do, in fact, function as common carriers. In their view, the Internet is increasingly crucial to the economy, society and the political system, and its openness to all comers needs to be enforced by the F.C.C., which should invoke its full authority under Title II.

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Defending the Open Internet

Source: The New York Times

5/10/2014

This article explains the issues being debated from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed new network neutrality rules. Philip Weiser, University of Colorado Law School and Director of Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, is quoted as being against classifying the Internet as a utility under Title II.


Some scholars say there are merits to the F.C.C.'s apparent approach. Philip J. Weiser, dean of the University of Colorado Law School, said, common-carrier regulation “is not a panacea.” If the F.C.C. were to use it, he said, there would most likely be years of litigation. Even if the classification withstood a legal challenge, he said, it might not improve the situation. Priority service would presumably be permitted for a “reasonable fee” so long as that fee was offered to everybody.


“It’s like FedEx,” he said. “You pay a certain amount for overnight delivery and a certain amount for two-day delivery. You could end up with something like that for the Internet.”

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Defending the Open Internet

Source: The New York Times

5/10/2014

This article explains the issues being debated from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed new network neutrality rules. Pennsylvania law professor Christopher Yoo comments on the difficulty of providing the appropriate amount of regulation to protect the open Internet.


The agency’s evident strategy is fraught with problems, and there has been dissension in its own ranks. “The F.C.C. appears to be attempting to thread a needle,” said Christopher S. Yoo, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. It wants to avoid invoking Title II, he said, while adding enough conditions to a standard of “commercial reasonableness” for prioritizing Internet transmissions to satisfy the courts as well as the fiercest net-neutrality advocates. “I don’t think we’ll know for a while whether they can succeed.”

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The Case for Rebooting the Network Neutrality Debate

Source: The Atlantic

5/6/2014

In this article she wrote for The Atlantic, Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, Director of The Center for Internet and Society, explains the uproar and the issues around Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal for new net neutrality rules. Below are a few excerpts.


The legal vacuum created by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit threatens the Internet that we know and love. It threatens the start-up economy. It threatens American leadership in the Internet space. That is a huge problem, and we need to fix it.


As we—the public, policy makers, and regulators—think through the choice between limited network neutrality regulation under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act and more comprehensive network neutrality rules under Title II of the Communications Act, we need to ask the right questions …


And while the Open Internet rules were not perfect, they were an important step in the right direction. As the D.C. Circuit’s decision and relevant precedent show, it is impossible to adopt the rules we need based on Section 706, if the rules are to be upheld in court. In contrast, if the FCC classifies ISPs as telecommunications service providers under Title II, it is not subject to the same limitations and can effectively protect network neutrality by prohibiting blocking, harmful discrimination, and pay-to-play access fees.


That’s what I think the FCC should do.

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Christopher Yoo Thinks Net Neutrality's End Might Not Be So Bad

Source: IEEE Spectrum

4/28/2014

In this article, Christopher Yoo argues that the proposed new net neutrality rule allowing for a pricing system for Internet speed could spur innovation. Christopher Yoo is professor of law and communication and director for the Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.


"Network neutrality proponents seem to be assuming that the proposed standard would be tantamount to non-regulation," Yoo says. "I’m not sure broadband providers regard the new rules as a green light for doing whatever they want."


In any case, Yoo thinks the end of strict net neutrality rules might not be all that bad. He hopes that the FCC’s easing restrictions on broadband providers’ ability to charge different prices for delivering different Internet content could spur innovation by allowing both established companies and startups to offer new online services tailored for the Internet "fast lane" delivery. For instance, Yoo pointed to the differentiation between standard U.S. first class postal service with overnight FedEx mail and noted how new businesses have grown around the overnight delivery option.


“I think the pressure to provide different levels of service is a reflection of the way the Internet is becoming increasingly diverse. Different [applications] need different levels of security, bandwidth, latency, and other technical dimensions of quality of service. The natural response is for broadband providers to diversify their offerings. One of the concerns I have is that a strict version of net neutrality might prevent that diversification from occurring.”

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Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination

Source: The New Yorker

4/24/2014

In this piece written for The New Yorker, law professor Tim Wu, Columbia University, explains how Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposed new network neutrality rules would give broadband providers the right to charge content providers for faster network access. Below are a few excerpts:


Yet the Washington Post has confirmed, based on inside sources, that the new rule gives broadband providers “the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers … in a commercially reasonable matter.” That’s telecom-speak for payola payments, and a clear violation of Obama’s promise.


We take it for granted that bloggers, start-ups, or nonprofits on an open Internet reach their audiences roughly the same way as everyone else. Now they won’t. They’ll be behind in the queue, watching as companies that can pay tolls to the cable companies speed ahead.


In 2007, Obama understood all of this. Without net neutrality, the result would be “much better quality from the Fox News site and you’d be getting rotten service from the mom and pop sites.” That year, he swore to me personally that he was committed to defending net neutrality. Unfortunately, his F.C.C. chairman is in the process of violating a core promise to innovators, to the technology sector, and, really, to all of us who use the Internet.

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Capital Spending in U.S. Seen from Macy’s to Berkshire

Source: Providence Business News

4/7/2014

This article presents an economic outlook based on speculated increased U.S. business investments. Economics professor Nick Bloom, Stanford University, is quoted.


“Conditions are perfect, so business-investment rates should be at the kind of levels we saw in the mid-2000s,” Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom said. Equipment expenditures climbed 8.6 percent on average from 2004 to 2006. “If it doesn’t come this year, it’s never going to come.”

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The Era of Facebook Is an Anomaly

Source: The Verge

3/13/2014

In this interview, Microsoft researcher danah boyd talks about teens, identity, and the future of digital communication. Below are a few excerpts. danah boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research; she is also a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.


My frustration about how we approach young people is that we think that everything must be so much worse because of technology. The funny thing is that we’ve had these moral panics for every generation. Comics were ruining everybody, rock and roll was ruining everybody, MTV was ruining everybody — we’ve had this in many different iterations. Part of the story of the book is that by and large, the kids are alright. …. The thing that I struggle with is … we distract ourselves in ways that don’t allow us to address the problems when people actually are in trouble.


We do this thing with kids where we try to keep them safe from every form of danger. Not only do we have diminishing returns in terms of time and energy, but we have unintended consequences just like we do with security, which is that we’ve eroded [kids'] opportunities to learn, to participate, to make sense of this world. They need this to come of age. We make it very difficult for them to be public.


The weird thing about Facebook and the dynamics of it becoming a utility — which [teens] really despise — is the fact that it becomes this backdrop. It’s not the place of passion. It’s really valuable when you want to reach everybody, it’s really valuable when you don’t have somebody’s cell to text them… That social graph is still extraordinarily valuable — that has the potential to really be long-standing.


That’s one of the things that teenagers struggle with about Facebook: how to deal with multiple contexts simultaneously. …. Online we don’t have that, so we have to deal with a lot of awkwardness. So of course people are going to have multiple identities.


[O]ne of the things we’re going to have to start playing with is a new model for how to negotiate privacy that isn’t just an access control list.

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Patent Data Missing in Troll Debate

Source: EE Times

3/12/2014

This article discusses a five-year research program aimed at analyzing standards-setting organizations and non-practicing entities (NPEs) in order to bring data to the debate about the U.S. patent system. Dan Spulber, Research Director for the Searle Center on Law, Regulation and Economic Growth, is leading the study.


"Right now it's like the fear of the unknown -- we actually don't know that much about patents despite a large amount of study," says Daniel F. Spulber, research director of Northwestern University's Searle Center on Law, which received a $2 million grant from Qualcomm that's funding a five-year research project.


The larger issue, Spulber told us, is "the so-called troll issue is an excuse, a horror story, and a wedge issue to attack patents generally."


He points to the current patent-suit legislation working its way through in Congress as well as a pending Supreme Court case. "These proposals are meant to weaken the rights of patent owners, particularly for software and business methods, but at the end of the day they could impact the strength of all patents."

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Social Media, Teens, and a Q&A With It's Complicated Author, danah boyd

Source: Huffington Post

3/10/2014

danah boyd discusses her new book, It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, which takes an intricate look at how teenagers are engaging and expressing themselves in social media spaces. danah boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research; she is also a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.


I was among the first cohort to get internet access as a teenager. I very much saw the internet as my saving grace and am deeply grateful for the opportunities that I had to interact with a world that was much larger than what I grew up with in my hometown.


Now, there's so much watchfulness, so much fear, that parents are expected to be constantly surveilling their children's practices or blocking their children from engaging. What worries me is that this fundamentally undermines the trust that parents and children need to maintain healthy relationships. Lack of knowledge is one thing, but fear and anxiety and distrust and misinterpretation are a different beast.


My hope is that adults will step back, take a deep breath, and think twice about how they're allocating their time, attention, and concerns. Many teens are fine. Many teens are not. This is not new. But what worries me is that we've started to use technology as an excuse to focus on the wrong things, rather than leveraging what's there to help those who really need our support and attention.

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Don’t Stalk Your Kid Online

Source: Slate

2/19/2014

In this interview, danah boyd discusses her new book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. danah boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research; she is also a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.


Slate: What’s the most important thing you learned in talking to them that you think adults don’t get?

boyd: The more I think about this, the more I want to focus on how devastating and destructive parental anxieties and stress about technology are. These anxieties continue to create a wall between kids and parents. … It requires a level of stepping back and trying to be calm that is really hard in American society. And with technology, there is such a tendency for it to be a source of anxiety. I’d really like us to be in a place where we think of it instead as an opportunity for teenagers.


Slate: How should teachers and school counselors and administrators interact with kids on social media?

boyd: The moves educators have made away from using social media to talk to kids have been really destructive. Educators should have open-door policies for kids to reach out to them online. A teacher should create a profile that is herself or himself as a teacher, on Facebook or wherever your cohort of kids are. Never go and friend a student on your own, but if a student friends you, accept. And if a student reaches out to you online, respond. If you see something concerning about a student on a social media account, approach him or her in school. Give your password to the principal, so it’s all transparent, and then be present. … Social media is an opportunity for more informal interactions.


Slate: You’re pushing technology as an avenue of freedom for kids, right?

boyd: Right. I’d love for young people to have more opportunities to interact in casual and unstructured ways. The reason technology plays such a powerful role for them is that it’s how they can just get together. Other ways to do that have so eroded in the last two decades. We’re talking about systemic changes: fewer part-time youth jobs. … Kids are more likely to be in schools where their friends don’t live within biking distance. So I talk about technology not because I think it’s the end-all, be-all but because it has become the primary place where young people can hang out with their peers. Kids want to be on these sites because that’s where their friends are. That’s the whole thing.

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What Your Teen Is Really Doing All Day On Twitter And Instagram

Source: Fast Company

2/18/2014

danah boyd discusses the fears and misconceptions that adults have about teens' use of social media, revealing that online networks can be a lifeline and a safety valve for a generation under extreme pressure. Below are a few excerpts from this Fast Company interview. danah boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research; she is also a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.


Major Differences Between the Way Adults and Teens Use Social Media

The thing that is really different has to do with how your life is configured in relationship to technology versus other opportunities. As an adult… you have a choice over your time and your schedule in a way that young people do not. Their lives are very heavily configured and structured. Their ability to get together in unstructured time with friends is extremely difficult.


On top of that they're dealing with immediate experiences of people who hold power over them and have the right to control their lives. … When young people don't show up at school, that's a violation of the law. Kids in the suburbs, they have to rely on their parents to get them someplace. They have very few financial resources, not just because some of them are poor, but because they can't even get a job. So social media for them is a release valve. For us it might be fun, but for them it's very important.


Companies Using Social Media to Market to Teens

Young people are totally aware of when a company is making a YouTube video just to sell to them. They're not dumb, they totally get this. The thing is, it's funny when they're on YouTube and seeking it out, it's not funny when it's getting in the way of talking with their friends. So businesses always have that delicate balance.


The other thing that it's really important for marketers to realize is that very few of today's youth have access to part time jobs, which makes it very hard for them to get their own money, they have massive stress over the potential cost of college. You're going to see companies feel as though they're losing teens because the fact is they're losing a certain amount of flexible spending right now. It's not because young people are harder to reach, it's because they're actually in a much harder space monetarily.


Technology and Teens

The thing for me is it's less about focusing on the technology and more about focusing holistically on a particular young person and how they're doing. There are young people out there who are really doing poorly. Use the technology to figure out who's not doing okay, and figure out ways to intervene. Because most of the reasons they're not doing okay are classic--different kinds of stress or pressure, different kinds of family abuse. Mental health issues, peer social insecurities. …. Let's not get distracted by the technology, and realize that technology is showing us what's happening in kids' lives, and use that as an opportunity to make a difference in their lives, as opposed to thinking that if we make the technology go away we can solve problems. Because that is not at all the way this works.

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Some Errors in Software at Exchange for Bitcoins

Source: New York Times

2/10/2014

The article examines Bitcoin exchange businesses. Ed Felten, Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, is quoted.


Edward W. Felten, a professor at Princeton University who has studied Bitcoin, said, “We’re seeing a shakeout where the companies that are weaker in terms of management and technical execution are being weeded out.”

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Disruptions: Paying to Travel in the Internet’s Fast Lanes

Source: New York Times

2/2/2014

The article examines the status of net neutrality regulation. Columbia law professor Tim Wu is quoted.


“The F.C.C. is afraid of the companies they regulate. They are capable of being intimidated by them,” said Mr. Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School. But Mr. Wu, who has written extensively about similar regulatory issues, predicts that this could backfire on the Internet service providers, leading to stricter regulation or to companies like Google calling their bluff.


“Phone and cable companies should be careful what they wish for because this could all blow up in their face,” he said. “Verizon and Comcast could end up facing serious demands for money. It could be that Google will say to the telcos, ‘Actually, if you want your customers to be able to reach Google, I’m afraid you’re going to pay us.’ ”

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Inequality on the Docket at World Economic Forum in Davos

Source: American Public Media’s Marketplace

1/21/2014

The story reports that inequality is one of the agenda items for the 2014 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum which took place in Davos, Switzerland in January. Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at M.I.T., is quoted.


“It’s good that the media, policymakers, and academics are paying more attention to it [inequality],” he says.


Acemoglu notes there is an irony here: “They can spend a week in the most luxurious circumstances, flying in their private jets, precisely because of the inequality that we are talking about.”


But, Acemoglu says, if the economic and political elites in our society are genuinely interested in a social problem like inequality, they can attract attention to it and contribute resources to address it.

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Robots Are Stealing Your Job: How Technology Threatens to Wipe Out the Middle Class

Source: Salon

1/17/2014

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, both of MIT, are interviewed about their new book, “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.”


These titanic changes have had a huge effect on human living standards, and in many ways we can learn from how things changed with the first Industrial Revolution and the first machine age. But there are also some key differences. As we augmented and automated muscle power and our ability to use that power to manipulate the world — not just with the steam engine but with subsequent general-purpose technologies like the internal combustion engine and electricity — it acted largely as a complement to human decision making. The power wasn’t very valuable unless you had someone controlling it and deciding what to do with it.


We do believe that technology is a driver of change, but it doesn’t follow that there is nothing we can do to shape the future. We think that education, entrepreneurship and tax policy can all help in increasing both the bounty and decreasing the spread. That’s our grand challenge.

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How Virtual Currency Could Make It Easier To Move Money

Source: National Public Radio’s All Tech Considered

1/15/2014

This story examines the potential value of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Professor Joshua Gans, Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, is quoted.


However, if the currencies themselves don't stay, the idea driving them will, according to [Nick] Holland and Joshua Gans, professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto.


"It's surprisingly difficult to transfer money between banks, and the question is, 'Why should that be?' " Gans says. "Some of these [virtual currencies] are trying to see if they can eliminate that, but of course the banks will come in and say, 'Well, we were charging people for those things in the past; we won't anymore.' "


Holland and Gans compare it to how Skype disrupted the market for telecommunications companies: Making calls over the Internet made business harder for traditional phone companies charging for long-distance calls.

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The Next Big Thing You Missed: There’s a Sure-Fire Way to Control the Price of Bitcoin

Source: Wired

1/14/2014

Given the extremely volatile value of bitcoins, this article looks at efforts of creating derivatives markets for the digital currency introduced in 2009. Law professor Eric Posner, University of Chicago, is quoted.


“It’s not surprising that people would try to do this [establish derivatives markets],” says Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago law school who explores financial markets and other economic issues. “If you’re a merchant or a business and you buy and sell stuff, you need to know how much you’re getting in return.”


“It’s [futures derivative] basically an insurance policy against fluctuations in exchange rates,” Posner says.

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Court Tosses Rules of Road for Internet

Source: The Wall Street Journal

1/14/2014

The article reports on the U.S. appeals court ruling that threw out federal rules requiring broadband providers to treat all Internet traffic equally. This ruling raises the prospect that bandwidth-hungry websites like Netflix Inc. might have to pay tolls to ensure quality service. Columbia University law professor Tim Wu is quoted.


"It takes the Internet into completely uncharted territory," said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who coined the term net neutrality.

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‘A FEMA-Level Fail’: the Law Professor Who Coined ‘Net Neutrality’ Lashes Out at the FCC’s Legal Strategy

Source: The Washington Post

1/14/2014

With the news that the U.S. federal appeals court overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality regulations, The Washington Post interviewed the man who coined the phrase, ‘net neutrality:’ Columbia University law professor Tim Wu.


It [the appeals court decision] leaves the Internet in completely uncharted territory. There's never been a situation where providers can block whatever they want. For example, it means AT&T can block people from reaching T-Mobile's customer service site if it wanted. They can do whatever they want.


The slightly more subtle thing is they [appeals court] upheld some FCC authority under the FCC's Title I or "auxiliary" authority. Under that provision, the court said that the FCC has some authority to regulate broadband.


The obvious alternative would have been to do what the FCC should have done and — in the future tense — now should do, which is to reclassify broadband under Title II authority.

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Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality Rules

Source: The Washington Post

1/14/2014

The article examines the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules, which prohibit Internet providers from blocking or prioritizing Web traffic. Columbia University law professor Tim Wu is quoted.


Denying that the FCC's open Internet order reflects common carriage regulation isn't likely to be a winning strategy, said Tim Wu, the Columbia University law professor who first coined the term "net neutrality." That's because the very notion of non-discrimination is central to common carriage, an idea that itself dates back to medieval times.

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Court Nixes Obama's Net Neutrality

Source: The Hill

1/14/2014

Reporting on the federal appeals court decision to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality regulations, the article offers reactions from opponents and supporters of the decision. Columbia law professor Tim Wu, who coined the phrase “network neutrality,” is quoted.


Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, said that Wheeler “has to act” after the court struck down provisions that keep Internet providers from both blocking and slowing access to websites.


“It’s just a completely different world” if Internet providers are able to throttle traffic to certain websites and services, such as Netflix, Skype and YouTube, Wu said.

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The Bitcoin: Virtually as Good as Real Money?

Source: The European

1/13/2014

The article reports on the unpredictable value and growing use of bitcoins. Susan Athey, an economic theorist at Stanford Graduate School of Business, offers her thoughts on how the digital currency.


Susan Athey, Professor of Economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business, said that deflation should not be a concern, given that bitcoins “could be divided more finely and their protocol accordingly adapted”.


E-commerce is another field where bitcoin can flourish. Professor Athey said that bitcoin might create new e-commerce opportunities for businesses in the developing world that were so far constrained by borders. An example, she said, would be, “an African travel agency that wants to use Google Adwords to advertise and cannot use local currency”.


Professor Athey said that a reason for bitcoin’s appeal in China might be that most people do not have credit cards, which makes bitcoin the perfect alternative for e-commerce and small payments. She added that Chinese consumers might be using bitcoins to buy apps, as China has high smartphone adoption.

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What Secrets Your Phone Is Sharing About You

Source: Wall Street Journal

1/13/2014

The article explores how businesses use sensors to track customers and build shopper profiles. University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo is quoted.


Places where people didn't think they were being watched are now repositories for collecting information, says Ryan Calo assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law. "Companies are increasingly able to connect between our online and offline lives," he says.

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Will Smarter Computers Lead To A Better World?

Source: National Public Radio’s Here & Now

1/9/2014

MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson discusses how the effects of today’s technological revolution may be greater than the Industrial Revolution. Professor Brynjofsson, along with co-author Andrew McAfee, delve into the challenges and choices brought about by smart machines in their newly released book, "The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.”


“There’s no economic law that says that when technology advances, that everybody necessarily benefits: some people, even a majority of people, could be made worse off.” Brynjolfsson said. ”The earlier technologies tended to be complements to humans. They made human decision making, cognitive skills more valuable. But the new technologies, these cognitive technologies, are not necessarily complements for people. In some cases, they are substitutes.”


In order for us to fully harness the good that this new age of machines can do, Brynjolfsson says, we still need good public policy.


“We don’t think the solution is to smash the machines, or slow down technology,” Brynjolfsson said. “The answer is to speed up our adaptation to it: changes in our skills, our organizations, even our institutions. Technology can and should be good news.”

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Target Data Theft Fuels New Worries on Cybersecurity

Source: Los Angeles Times

12/19/2013

Professor Andrea Matwyshyn is quoted in this article that reports on one of the biggest retail breaches to date: hackers stole credit and debit card information on 40 million Target customers. Professor Matwyshyn is with the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. Her research focuses on corporate information security and risk management.


“We're seeing massive data breaches frequently due to low-hanging type of security problems,” said Andrea Matwyshyn, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who specializes in computer security. “Traditionally, questions of information security have been viewed by many companies as something that the IT department does, and that is a cultural mindset problem that is at the root” of some of the problems.

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After China Says No to Bitcoin, Should We Stop Thinking of It as a Currency?

Source: National Public Radio’s Marketplace

12/19/2013

Following the announcement that China's national financial agencies have banned the country’s banks and exchanges from using Bitcoin, NPR’s Marketplace asked Professor Eric Posner to discuss the validity of Bitcoin as a currency. Eric Posner is the Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.


"It's [Bitcoin] more like a payment system that people can use to transfer dollars from one place to another, and the way you transfer your dollar is you buy a Bitcoin, ship it through the internet, and then the other person gets it and converts it into a dollar," Posner says.


One reason Posner says he's not bullish on the idea of Bitcoin as a currency has to do with the government's inability to control its supply. Governments, he says, need to be able to control currencies through economic highs and lows.


"If there's a recession, for example, you need to increase the money supply, and if there's a boom, you need to reduce the rate at which money grows," Posner says. "If the government has no control over the supply of the money that people use because people have used Bitcoin, it won't be able to use these instruments to help control the economy. … And, so I think the government would find a way to ensure that Bitcoins did not replace the dollar as our currency."


"If you think of [Bitcoin] as just a very useful mechanism for transferring value from one place to another, then regulation will not undermine that goal. It will actually improve that by making the use of Bitcoins more secure, protecting people from some of the illegal or undesireable uses of Bitcoin -- for example, to finance criminal activity or to buy drugs."

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Disruptions: Internet’s Sad Legacy: No More Secrets

Source: New York Times

12/15/2013

The article examines the number of ways that companies track, observe, and capture data about their customers. Ed Felten, Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, is quoted.


“Just because information is unavailable to you and you don’t see it doesn’t mean that it is not being captured, stored, or even seen by someone else in transit,” said Edward W. Felten, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton.

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Native Ads Aren’t as Clear as Outlets Think

Source: Columbia Journalism Review

12/5/2013

The article reports on a recent Federal Trade Commission workshop on deceptive advertising. Privacy scholar Chris Hoofnagle, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, participated in the workshop and is quoted in this article.


“When I hear ‘sponsored by’ I think about things like PBS,” said Hoofnagle. “When you watch the MacNeil/Lehrer Show (PBS NewsHour), it starts out with ‘brought to you by BP.’ I would never think that BP told the television show what stories to run. What I assumed from that representation is that BP provided underwriting that laid a groundwork for the good reporting at PBS.” With native advertising, Hoofnagle learned Wednesday, the exact opposite is true. Rather than publishers independently creating content and then going out to get advertising to support it, advertisers approach publishers and say, “I want you to run a story that is compatible with my product,” continued Hoofnagle. “It doesn’t have to promote my prod