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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 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.


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.


The Truth About Teenagers, The Internet, And Privacy

Source: Fast Company


This article explores the different networked sites that teens and young adults use and how they approach choices to share personal information about themselves. danah boyd and her new book are quoted. Dr. boyd is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, founder of Data & Society Research Institute, and a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.

danah boyd, a professor at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, argues that teenagers closely scrutinize what they share online because it is a way for them to negotiate their changing identities. In her book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, she describes how teenagers carefully curate their feeds based on the audience they are trying to reach.


Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability

Source: The New York Times


The article compares Internet costs and speeds between the United States and European and Asian countries, and finds that U.S. costs are the highest and the Internet speeds in the U.S. are not consistently the fastest. Tim Wu, Columbia law professor and the person who coined the phrase, “network neutrality” is quoted.

“It’s just very simple economics,” said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who studies antitrust and communications and was an adviser to the Federal Trade Commission. “The average market has one or two serious Internet providers, and they set their prices at monopoly or duopoly pricing.”


Say Ello to the New Privacy Debate on Social Media

Source: The Conversation


In this article examining Ello, a new social networking site that does not require people to use their real names on their account, Helen Nissenbaum discusses her thoughts on contextual integrity as it relates to privacy. Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of both Media, Culture and Communication, and Computer Science at New York University, where she is also Director of the Information Law Institute.

Privacy expert Helen Nissenbaum remarks on the need to tie “adequate protection for privacy to norms of specific contexts, demanding that information gathering and dissemination be appropriate to that context”.

She calls this contextual integrity. That is to say, contextually specific presumptions of privacy are tied to common practices of appropriateness and flows of information. Breaching (or changing) these practices is what violates privacy.


Whisper and the Meaning of Anonymity

Source: Wall Street Journal


The article looks into reports that Whisper, a new company claiming to be a haven of anonymity, secretly tracked the location of its users. Law privacy expert Deirdre Mulligan is quoted.

Companies that connect to users through the Internet inevitably know identifying details about their customers, according to Deirdre Mulligan, associated professor and privacy expert at University of California Berkeley School of Information. However, “they can do things to make it harder for [those details] to be a sole source of identification,” she said. These things include separating transaction and identity data, truncating numbers such as device IDs and IP addresses that serve as unique identifiers, and blurring location data, as Whisper claims to do.

Even companies that take these precautions still can’t keep users anonymous if a law enforcement agency requests the data. “Limiting disclosures to law enforcement are nigh impossible if they go to court,” Mulligan said.

“These companies have stuck their necks up above the pack, making a market play as privacy-preserving apps without investing the technical resources to back up their promises,” Mulligan said, referring to both Snapchat and Whisper.


Strategy Lessons From Jean Tirole

Source: Harvard Business Review


This article explores the reasons Jean Tirole was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in economic sciences. Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner shares his insights about Dr. Tirole. Note: Professor Lerner and Dr. Tirole have co-authored numerous papers.

“Jean has a bit of magical quality of being able to take very complex situations where there are a lot of different moving parts and a lot of institutional details and structuring the essence of it in a relatively simple model,” says Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner, who has co-authored several recent papers with Tirole. “Obviously models have to simplify reality, but one of the real skills is essentially being able — it’s an art, not a science — to say, ‘What are the key levers here? What are the aspects that distill the situation down to its very essence?’”


Strategy Lessons From Jean Tirole

Source: Harvard Business Review


Joshua Gans, Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management, shares his thoughts on Dr. Jean Tirole’s contribution to economic sciences.

Gans thinks Tirole’s most remarkable accomplishment might be his graduate-level textbooks. The Theory of Industrial Organization was just the first. Together with Fudenberg, Tirole wrote Game Theory in 1991. In 1993 it was A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation with Jean-Jacques Laffont, the late founder of the Industrial Economy Institute at the University of Toulouse, where Tirole has taught for almost two decades. Then, in 2006, came The Theory of Corporate Finance — not a field Tirole had really been known for. “That appeared out of nowhere,” says Gans. “Corporate finance? Since when? Sheesh, when did he do it?”


Sharing Healthcare Data Not as Easy as It Sounds

Source: Los Angeles Times


In this opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, Professor Mike Mattioli, Maurer School of Law, Indiana University, shares his findings from an academic study he is conducting on Big Data in the healthcare industry. Below is an excerpt.

Big Data's potential to improve human health requires the large-scale aggregation of medical data, they explained, but individual data holders face powerful disincentives to collaborate.

Hospitals are reluctant to share data that reflect poorly on their quality of service; pharmaceutical companies closely guard data that could reduce the value of existing or future intellectual property; academic researchers rarely share data that can fuel publications.


Jean Tirole Wins Nobel in Economics for Work on Regulation

Source: The New York Times


The article provides a look at the breadth of work of Dr. Jean Tirole, the 2014 Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences. Joshua Gans, Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management, is quoted.

Joshua Gans, an economist at the University of Toronto, compared Mr. Tirole with Louis Pasteur as the rare example of a laureate whose work has both advanced theoretical understanding and directly affected daily life.

The pricing model developed by Mr. Tirole and a now-deceased collaborator, Jean-Jacques Laffont, is the basis of current law in Europe, New Zealand, Australia and other countries. But not in the United States. Mr. Gans said the difference explained why consumers in those other countries generally enjoyed lower prices and better service.

“The alternative is what happens in the U.S. where Comcast doesn’t give access to its competitors so Time Warner has to decide whether to build over the top of Comcast or just to stay out of their markets,” Mr. Gans said. “Had there been access regulation, maybe Time Warner and Comcast would be competing more directly.”


In Net Neutrality Discussion, Lawsuits Loom Large

Source: The New York Times


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.


Bye-Bye, Bitcoin? The Crypto-Currency's Price Agonies Intensify

Source: Los Angeles Times


This article examines the price fluctuations of Bitcoin. Stanford economist Susan Athey is quoted.

[That's] the view of Stanford University economist Susan Athey, an expert in crypto-currencies. Athey told us last year that if you're selling goods in bitcoins and exchanging them for dollars, or trying to transfer your wealth from yuan in Beijing to euros in Frankfort, "in principle, you need to only worry about the exchange rate for 10 minutes.... The point is that we have a new technology that allows any individual in the world to send value from one place to another instantly, in a way that's secure and verifiable."


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

Source: InfoWorld


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."


How Big Data Could Discriminate

Source: Motherboard


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.”


Outing at Gossip Website Strains Campus Civility

Source: The Wall Street Journal


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."


How Apple Promises to Safeguard Your Workout Data

Source: The Washington Post


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."


Why Apple Pay Can Succeed Where Google Wallet Failed

Source: Slate


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?”


Google Sued For Removing SocialZoid from PlayStore

Source: MediaPost


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.”


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

Source: BloombergBusinessweek


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.”


Is the Internet About to Get Sloooooow?

Source: CNN


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.


Apple Watch, iPhone 6 Raise Privacy Risks

Source: U.S. News


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.”


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

Source: The Washington Post


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.


Teachers and Social Media: Trekking on Treacherous Terrain

Source: Inside Bay Area


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."



The Information Google Doesn't Want You to Organize

Source: USA Today


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 b