American TV Is Changing for Better or Worse

The American TV market is changing before our very eyes, presenting viewers, creators, and advertisers an unprecedented degree of choice, convenience, and competition. We are witnessing a platinum age of television, where an alluring array of movies, sports, and specials is accessible on our phones, tablets, and computers, available anytime and anyplace, on demand. Though we now refer to it as “video,” at its essence it remains television, and we just cannot get enough of it.

But, for traditional TV broadcasters, these changes are both a blessing and a bane. A blessing because more people are watching more video than ever before.  A bane because more people are viewing that video through non-traditional media, which represents an evolving societal shift.

Continue reading “American TV Is Changing for Better or Worse”

Media and Other Stakeholders Should Have a Role in Future Pandemic Planning

A major COVID-19 milestone was achieved last month that indicates the downward infection and hospitalization rates caused by it have now receded to justify dropping its designation as an active pandemic. The United States ended its federal Public Health Emergency on May 11 and used that announcement to herald the incredible national effort regarding testing, vaccines, and treatment.

Of course, given recent history, there is a high likelihood that another global pandemic looms. In light of the enormous difficulties nations worldwide faced in developing effective COVID-19 coordinated responses, the task ahead will be equally formidable – namely, how to mitigate massive public health threats in a timely and effective way.

Continue reading “Media and Other Stakeholders Should Have a Role in Future Pandemic Planning”

How Silicon Valley’s Leap Ahead Was Preceded by Visible Government Footsteps

The recent passing of Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore at age 94 has brought back well-deserved stories about how this tech legend played a leading role in developing silicon microprocessors, which served as the foundation for the exponential growth of our modern computer age. But this Big Bang in Silicon Valley was preceded by a series of events that created the environment that allowed Moore and his brilliant colleagues – notably Intel co-founder Robert Noyce – to achieve the technological breakthroughs that have changed the world.

Silicon Valley is a noted center of technological advancement and entrepreneurship, achieving innovations that have left lasting and unmatched imprints on society, here and abroad. Its centrality to such developments as the personal computer, social networks, and cloud computing has made the region so successful, with continual fueling by venture capital. Few are aware, however, that the staggering growth of the area had its roots in Washington, D.C., during the regulation-intensive climate of the late 1940s through the late 1950s.

Continue reading “How Silicon Valley’s Leap Ahead Was Preceded by Visible Government Footsteps”

The Ticking Clock on Legally Restricting TikTok

Amidst the growing concern over TikTok’s massive availability in the United States, Congress now is ramping up its public scrutiny of that company, which is owned by China’s ByteDance. That foreign ownership has raised serious concerns regarding whether the company might constitute a national security threat that warrants an outright nationwide ban.

Such a ban, which has been advocated by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, raises First Amendment concerns that the government may not be able to justify under the constitutional strict scrutiny test of the Supreme Court that likely would apply in this case. It is unclear, and at this point unlikely, that a sufficient showing could be made to convince a federal court that the gravity of the national security risk in practice would justify restricting the ability of 150 million Americans to use the app for sending and receiving information.

Continue reading “The Ticking Clock on Legally Restricting TikTok”

Why Elon Musk’s Digital Town Square Model for Twitter Remains Elusive

When Elon Musk acquired Twitter in October, he sent a prominent virtue signal.  Musk indicated that under his ownership, Twitter would be “a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner.” 

This notion was quickly picked up in numerous glowing tweets, then amplified by media worldwide.  But we have learned in the ensuing months that there never was and never will be a digital town square.

Continue reading “Why Elon Musk’s Digital Town Square Model for Twitter Remains Elusive”

Two Teachable First Amendment Moments

Since Election Day 2022, we have experienced two extraordinary teachable moments about the First Amendment. Those all along the political spectrum should review them as a crash-course refresher for the clear red line that our nation’s Founding Fathers envisioned when they crafted this bedrock of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, has decided to lift a nearly three-year ban on using the popular social media platform that had been imposed on Donald J. Trump during the final days of his presidency. Musk indicated this reversal represented “the will of the people,” based on a quick, unscientific online poll he posted that indicated a slim majority approved of former president Trump being allowed to use Twitter again to reach the 88 million people who had been his followers at the time of his banishment.

Continue reading “Two Teachable First Amendment Moments”

Why Russia Should Be in the Rearview Mirror for Telecom Companies

Since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in February, companies with a history of operating in complex and challenging markets have been weighing the difficult realities of their responsibilities to the people they serve. Those that supply essential goods and services, such as internet connectivity, pharmaceuticals, food, and consumer products have confronted difficult choices. The war has highlighted which companies must choose between providing essential services and managing the reputational and regulatory risks of operating as usual in Russia.

The risks that telecom companies operate in are evident. This month, telecommunications company VEON – the owner of Ukraine’s largest mobile company, Kyivstar, and Russia’s third-largest mobile company, Beeline – announced it would start selling its operations in Russia. This is a significant announcement because Beeline is a company providing essential internet connectivity service to the Russian population and because it represents a noticeable turning point.

Continue reading “Why Russia Should Be in the Rearview Mirror for Telecom Companies”

TikTok Is China’s Trojan Horse

People are easy to dupe.  Give us something for free and we will open the door to just about anything in return, including our most sensitive family, health, and financial information. 

The ancient Greeks knew something about the human psyche when they built a massive wooden horse and put it outside the enemy gates at Troy.  Unsuspecting Trojans marveled at the gift and ushered it inside unexamined.  Hidden in the horse were the Greek men of war who emerged to sack the city. 

Continue reading “TikTok Is China’s Trojan Horse”

Attacking Free Speech Doesn’t Just Hurt Tech: America Must Stay True to Its First Amendment Principles

The First Amendment is one of the cornerstone principles that define this nation. There is no such thing as freedom if we cannot speak freely.   

Today, however, our nation seems less interested in protecting free speech than at any time I can recall. Major advocates of free speech like the ACLU are wavering in their support of our First Amendment, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are fighting for the government to censor online speech.  

Continue reading “Attacking Free Speech Doesn’t Just Hurt Tech: America Must Stay True to Its First Amendment Principles”

A Third-Way Approach to Regulating Facial Recognition Systems

The use of facial recognition systems powered by algorithms and software continues to raise controversy given their potential use by law enforcement and other government agencies.  For over a decade, the Department of Commerce’s National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has evaluated facial recognition to identify and report gaps in its capabilities.  Its most recent report in 2019 quantified the effect of age, race, and sex on facial recognition accuracy.

The greatest discrepancies that NIST measured were higher false-positive rates in women, African Americans, and particularly African American women.  It noted, “False positives might present a security concern to the system owner, as they may allow access to impostors.  False positives also might present privacy and civil rights and civil liberties concerns such as when matches result in additional questioning, surveillance, errors in benefit adjudication, or loss of liberty.”

Continue reading “A Third-Way Approach to Regulating Facial Recognition Systems”