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”
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”
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”
Among the key provisions of the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (aka the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal) signed into law by President Joe Biden on Monday, Nov. 15, is $65 billion that will be dedicated to improving access to reliable high-speed Internet. This will include both increased availability of broadband to more than 30 million Americans who do not have minimally acceptable broadband speeds, and assistance in lowering prices for Internet services so that more households can afford better Internet service.
This new law aimed at closing the digital divide also should be used to close the digital privacy divide – the gap between more personal information being stored and shared and the level of privacy protection for online users that is provided to them.
Continue reading “Invest in Better Digital Privacy Protection Along With Faster Broadband Speeds”
Our nation’s momentum toward accelerated COVID-19 vaccine distribution is fully apparent. President Joe Biden has publicly urged state governments to make every adult in the U.S. eligible for a vaccine by May 1.
With this fast-track schedule, increasing attention now should be focused on how Americans will be able to digitally verify their vaccine completion status, not only for travel abroad but possibly even to get into local sporting events, theaters, hotels, or cruise ships.
Continue reading “Digital COVID Vaccine Passports Should Be Antitrust-Exempt”
One of the major unresolved issues in crafting comprehensive federal digital privacy legislation has carried over from last year to the current 117th Congress. This regards whether current or future state privacy laws should be preempted so that there only will be one uniform national set of enforceable rules regarding the collection, storage, and transmission of personally identifiable information.
A one-size-fits-all approach makes intuitive sense since online services and social media are not confined to traditional geographic boundaries. And absent a fully federal approach, there is the possibility that digital companies will be faced with a crazy-quilt pattern of regulatory compliance, increasing both their potential legal liability and the cost of doing business. In short, this is a scenario for Plan A.
Perhaps the most distasteful national omelet we’ve been served during the past four years has been the one that has mixed together an unsavory combination of three ingredients: fake news, misinformation, and disinformation.
While many express growing concerns and look for ways to deal with them, that may be difficult – if not impossible – as long as we use these terms without any agreed-upon definitions that set useful boundaries and are easy to understand among the public at large. The alternative is to continue repeating the mantra “fake news-misinformation- disinformation” so often that it loses meaning, or using the terms interchangeably so that they become permanently blurred in our minds.
Continue reading “Guardrails for Describing Fake News, Misinformation, and Disinformation”
With COVID-19 and economic recovery at the top of the policy agenda for the Biden Administration and the new Congress, it may take awhile until serious attention is devoted to enacting national digital privacy legislation. This continues to put states in a leadership position to craft their own approaches. Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Washington are among the states that are in the process of developing their own bills for timely legislative approval.
And Virginia’s pending Consumer Data Protection Act is poised to be signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, after receiving very strong bipartisan support in both the Virginia House and the state Senate.
Continue reading “Digital Privacy Laws Should Reflect Our Work-From-Home Pandemic Lives”
The resumption of daily press briefings by the new White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, has brought back a welcomed routine of making the president’s chief spokesperson available for informational updates and responses to questions posed by various reporters in the press corps. Ms. Psaki typically holds these weekday sessions in the early afternoon and they can be viewed on a variety of websites.
With that scheduling constant now in place, it’s time for the Biden Administration to devise a separate social media schedule for COVID-19 updates to help minimize the tsunami of misinformation about testing, PPE availability, mandated mask orders, vaccine supply, and actual vaccinations. These updates should be based on actual data and science, not on rumors or speculation. And when sufficient information is not yet forthcoming, we should be told why it has not been released and when it may be made public.
Continue reading “Greater Social Media Trust Is Needed To Fight COVID-19”
In a single swipe, Twitter and Facebook have done what the U.S. government and the Constitution could not: delete the power of an irreverent president to rile and rally Americans to violent action.
Twitter announced Jan. 8 that it permanently suspended Trump’s account, while Facebook announced Jan. 7 it had suspended Trump’s account indefinitely.
Continue reading “Big Tech Must Self-Regulate To Protect Public Safety”