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

In Net Neutrality Discussion, Lawsuits Loom Large

Source: The New York Times

10/7/2014

The article explores with net neutrality experts the potential outcome of the much-anticipated FCC new open Internet rules. Columbia law professor Tim Wu is quoted.


“There will be blood,” said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who coined the term network neutrality in a 2003 academic paper. Which is to say, he added, “there will be litigation.”


Mr. Wu, for example, firmly held that the best way for the F.C.C. to ensure an open Internet was for it to invoke its full authority under Title II of the Communications Act.

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Alice Is Killing the Trolls -- But Expect Patent Lawyers to Strike Back

Source: InfoWorld

9/18/2014

The article describes how the Alice Corp. v CLS Bank software patent case is becoming a landmark decision for patent cases in the United States. Preeminent intellectual property law scholar Mark Lemley, Stanford University, is quoted.


Lawyer and patent law scholar Professor Mark Lemley:

I think Alice is a real sea change on the patentable subject matter issue. I've heard a lot of folks talk about how Alice doesn't really use the word "software," so it doesn't really change anything, but I honestly think that's wishful thinking. ... I don't think it's all software patents, but I guess what I would say is a majority of the software patents being litigated right now, I think, are invalid under Alice.


Indeed, Lemley has posited that patent lawyers will return to the previously deprecated practice of explicit functional claiming as a route around the sea change. That would yield a legal landscape similar to the one that the current software giants grew from, according to Lemley: "We may be going back to the world of the 1980s; not only the patentable subject matter world but maybe also in claiming and means plus function claims."

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How Big Data Could Discriminate

Source: Motherboard

9/16/2014

This article reports from the FTC’s workshop, “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?”. Law and ethics professor Peter Swire, Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology, participated in the event, and he is quoted in the article.


“There may be data inside big data sets that say with some level of confidence what are the demographic, you know, characteristics,” Peter Swire, a professor of law and ethics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said. “If you have that and you have a disparate impact in the data in your database, the history under fair lending has been that you might come under scrutiny for the regulated industries.”


“Along with figuring out what we think we ought to do, there’s a legal research task about what the law has done,” Swire said. “Talking among others to see what is really done there is something that I think would inform our debate about what the legal rules are.”

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Outing at Gossip Website Strains Campus Civility

Source: The Wall Street Journal

9/15/2014

The story reports on the unmasking of an NYU editor who ran an anonymous school-gossip website. Harvard cyberlaw expert Jonathan Zittrain is quoted.


"Anonymity has a storied relationship with American democracy," said Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard Law professor who co-founded the school's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "It's a way for the powerless and disadvantaged to speak without fear of repercussion. Of course, that same lack of repercussion can make for a license for abusive behavior."

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How Apple Promises to Safeguard Your Workout Data

Source: The Washington Post

9/15/2014

The article examines Apple’s new fitness data hub, HealthKit against recent privacy concerns about the security of data in Apple’s iCloud. Law professor Joseph Turow, Annenberg School For Communication, is quoted.


Joseph Turow, a privacy expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that users often don't understand how combining sets of benign-seeming data can identify them.


"I think people have to be wary," he said. "Who you are or how your personality is all can be inferred from little points of data. More activities will be looked at and this will have to be a social discussion we have."

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Why Apple Pay Can Succeed Where Google Wallet Failed

Source: Slate

9/12/2014

The article examines Apple new mobile payment system, Apple Pay. University of Maryland law professor James Grimmelmann is quoted.


Grimmelmann says that Apple’s long-term prospects are bright: “Apple has a lot of experience in squeezing companies that thought they were the ones squeezing everyone else.”


Although a breath of fresh air might shake up the credit card industry, this doesn’t necessarily translate into good news for consumers or merchants, however. Grimmelmann puts it this way: “Is it a positive development when Godzilla comes along and starts fighting with Mothra, who’s been beating up on the city?”

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Google Sued For Removing SocialZoid from PlayStore

Source: MediaPost

9/11/2014

This article reports on a lawsuit by app company SocialZoid against Google claiming that more than 50 of its apps were wrongly removed from the PlayStore this summer. Google alleges that SocialZoid’s games, such as the Kamasutra Animated app, violates Google's content policy. Law professor Eric Goldman, Director of the Santa Clara High Tech Law Institute, is quoted.


“The odds are definitely stacked against this developer in court,” says Goldman, who publicized the lawsuit via Twitter on Thursday. One obstacle for SocialZoid is that retailers have never been obligated to carry particular items in their stores. “Imagine General Mills complaining that their pancakes aren't being carried in a grocery store's frozen aisle,” Goldman says.


He adds retailers are expected to decide what merchandise they want to offer. “Google should not be sued every time it decides to ding an app,” he adds. “We want retailers to exercise discretion. That's why they're valuable to us.”

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Economists Want More Spending on Roads and Bridges—Here’s Why

Source: BloombergBusinessweek

9/11/2014

A report from a survey of economic experts by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business finds that leading economists support infrastructure spending in order to create opportunities to increase average incomes. Massachusetts Institute of Technology economics professor Daron Acemoglu is quoted.


MIT’s Daron Acemoglu: “Past evidence suggests that there will be waste and corruption (a lot of corruption!). But this does not imply that average NPV [net present value] is negative.”

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Is the Internet About to Get Sloooooow?

Source: CNN

9/10/2014

In this opinion piece, net neutrality expert Barbara van Schewick explains the great "Internet Slowdown" -- a coordinated day of action among hundreds of organizers and some of the world's largest tech firms. Professor van Schewick is a professor at Stanford Law School and director of the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. Below are a few excerpts:


There is much at stake. The FCC's proposed rules threaten our ability to access the applications, content, and services of our choice -- the very principle behind "net neutrality," the idea that high-speed Internet providers should treat all types of Web content equally.


Innovation isn't the only thing that will suffer. Today, the open Internet is also a space where all Americans, no matter the color of their skin or size of their wallets, have an equal opportunity to express themselves, organize politically, and connect with one another. ... If Internet service providers have the power to block, discriminate or charge access fees, we risk losing this critical space for democratic discourse, political action, and creative expression.


The solution is simple. The FCC needs to reclassify Internet service providers as "common carriers" and enact the network neutrality rules we need under Title II of the Communications Act.

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Apple Watch, iPhone 6 Raise Privacy Risks

Source: U.S. News

9/10/2014

The article reviews Apple’s new payment app against cloud computing privacy fears. Privacy law professor Ryan Calo, University of Washington, is quoted.


“It’s a reminder that anything you put in the cloud – even things you think are gone after deleting them – can still be there,” says Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law at the University of Washington.


“Apple have not been as engaging with stakeholders as some other companies,” Calo says of Apple’s transparency about its cybersecurity and privacy. “On the other hand they seem to have architected the security of some of their products very well.”

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With Apple Pay, the Tech Leader Takes Its Shot at Replacing the Wallet

Source: The Washington Post

9/9/2014

The article reports on Apple’s new service that allows users to pay for items in stores with their phones instead of physically presenting credit cards. Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain is quoted.


“It won’t be too long before we look back on this era and think it’s nuts,” said Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain. He and other technology experts noted that Apple has a history of solving business riddles that have eluded others, as it did with the iPod, which thrived not only because of its stylish hardware but also because big record companies agreed to distribute their music through Apple’s iTunes store.

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Teachers and Social Media: Trekking on Treacherous Terrain

Source: Inside Bay Area

9/7/2014

The article examines a case of a public school teacher posting malicious thoughts about her students on her personal social media site. The line between protection of free speech and expecting a level of discretion from public employees is not simple to draw. Law professor Eric Goldman outlines the issues.


"Some school districts are making rules," Goldman said. "But it requires careful thought. The policy has to navigate between legitimate use of social media and the free speech rights of employees. School districts basically have to tell their teachers not to do anything stupid online. That's the gist of it."


While teachers have the protections of free speech, when they post things on the Internet, be it in blogs, emails or social media like Twitter and Facebook, they need to know they are giving administrators information about their job performance and responsibilities that they would not otherwise have, Goldman said.


"We all joke about the ways that we could maliciously behave in our jobs," Goldman said. "That's gallows humor. Going online gets problematic. With (Hodges) it was not just a joke, it was a running theme. At some point it crosses over from being a joke to a warning sign."

 

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The Information Google Doesn't Want You to Organize

Source: USA Today

9/4/2014

The article reports on Google’s efforts to redact information about its email scanning process from a transcript of a public court hearing in February 2014. Chris Hoofnagle, law scholar with the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, is quoted.


This move has sweeping consequences, as Chris Hoofnagle, director of privacy programs at Berkeley's Center for Law & Technology, has described:


"Hiding ads while analyzing data takes advantage of a key deficit users have around internet services: users only perceive profiling if they receive ads. The content one box infrastructure would allow Google to understand the meaning of all of our communications: the identities of the people with whom we collaborate, the compounds of drugs we are testing, the next big thing we are inventing, etc. Imagine the creative product of all of Berkeley combined, scanned by a single company's 'free' email system."

 

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How TV News Plays to Our Darkest Fears

Source: Saturday Evening Post

9/3/2014

The article examines the trend for news media to emphasize and linger on news items of tragedy, catastrophe, and mayhem. danah boyd, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research and Research Assistant Professor, New York University is quoted.


And almost always, we, the advertisers’ dupes — er, audience — will stay glued to the screen, no matter what. “When journalists are rewarded for viewership, there’s a perverse motivation to play into people’s attraction to freak shows and horror,” Danah Boyd, who works at Microsoft Research, wrote in an essay not long ago. She added that this occurs “regardless of the social consequences.”

 

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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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What If the FCC Is the Wrong Agency to Handle Net Neutrality?

Source: The Washington Post

6/20/2014

The article reports on a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee that questioned whether the Federal Trade Commission and antitrust law, rather than the Federal Communications Commission, would be a more appropriate agency to ensure that Internet providers do not abuse their network operator position. Columbia law professor Tim Wu is quoted.


But net neutrality advocate Tim Wu testified in the hearing that looking at Internet policy solely through the lens of antitrust law would ignore the non-economic harms that Internet providers could wreak on the Internet, such as suppressing speech and limiting diversity.


"What I'm suggesting is that net neutrality has supported and upheld this network as a platform for speech and innovation and noneconomic values," Wu told the committee, "none of which is captured by antitrust scrutiny."

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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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Erasing Your Engagement from The Internet Is Impossible -- I Know, I Tried

Source: Huffington Post

5/14/2014

This article follows the author’s attempts to eliminate the Internet ads relating to weddings that she began receiving after sharing her engagement on Facebook. New York University professor Helen Nissenbaum is quoted.


Helen Nissenbaum, a professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, sympathized with my complaint when I called her to discuss how I could dis-engage online.


“The problem with the way we think about privacy at the moment is it’s all or nothing,” she told me. “We either release the information or we don’t. And once we release it, well, tough luck.”

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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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