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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
NewsGuard is a company created by a team of journalists who assess the credibility and transparency of news and information, including whether a website repeatedly publishes false content.
Recently, it found that 113 websites out of 7,000 reviewed were spreading election misinformation in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 presidential vote and are still active in doing so. Of these, 81% have continued to spread false claims about the election and its aftermath, including about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Continue reading “Consumers May Hold the Key to Confronting Election Misinformation”
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”
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”
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”