Jerry Brito

Jerry Brito

  • Former Senior Research Fellow

Jerry Brito was a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of its Technology Policy Program. He also serves as an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University. His research focuses on technology and Internet policy, copyright, and the regulatory process.

His op-eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and elsewhere. He is the coauthor, with Susan Dudley, of Regulation: A Primer and the editor of Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive to Excess.

Brito hosted Surprisingly Free, a weekly half-hour podcast featuring in-depth discussions with an eclectic mix of authors, academics, and entrepreneurs at the intersection of technology, policy, and economics. He also contributes to the Technology Liberation Front, a leading technology-policy blog.

Brito has created several websites to foster transparency and accountability in government, including, which provides an alternative interface to the federal government’s regulatory docketing system. He also co-created the International Telecommunication Union transparency site with fellow Mercatus scholar Eli Dourado.

Brito received his JD from George Mason University School of Law and his BA in political science from Florida International University. 

Follow Jerry on Twitter

Follow Jerry on Google+

Published Research

Jerry Brito, Houman Shadab, Andrea Castillo | Jan 15, 2015
In this article we survey the type of financial instruments and transactions that will most likely be of interest to regulators, including traditional securities and derivatives, new bitcoin-denominated instruments, and completely decentralized markets and exchanges.
Eli Dourado, Jerry Brito | Jul 01, 2014
This article explains what cryptocurrency is and begins to answer the new questions that it raises. To understand why cryptocurrency has the characteristics it has, it is important to understand the problem that is being solved. For this reason, we start with the problems that have plagued digital cash in the past and the technical advance that makes cryptocurrency possible. Once this foundation is laid, we discuss the unique economic questions that the solution raises.
Jerry Brito | May 13, 2014
Scholars and practitioners have documented how regulatory agencies have increasingly relied on guidance, best-practice documents, policy statements, and other informal pronouncements to achieve regulatory ends. Agencies often do so to avoid executive regulatory review and other accountability measures that ostensibly slow the regulatory process. This paper adds to this growing literature to incorporate policymaking through the issuance of completely unenforceable threats.
Jerry Brito | Sep 12, 2013
The success of BRAC shows how to overcome public choice dynamics at a time of crisis. These lessons apply today, but they must be understood correctly. While creating a small commission or task force to tackle a problem has many advantages, it is just one aspect of what made BRAC succeed. A spending commission modeled on BRAC should be focused, independent, composed of disinterested citizens given clear criteria for their decisions, and be structured in a way that allows its recommendations to be operative unless Congress rejects them. This prescription is the only way that a spending commission has a chance to actually result in spending cuts.

Working Papers

Jerry Brito, Tate Watkins | Apr 26, 2011
Rhetoric around cybersecurity could be contributing to threat inflation and an emerging cyber-industrial complex. More verifiable evidence needs to be made public before deciding whether and how government intervention can help.
Jerry Brito | May 25, 2010
In this article we first look at the roots of the Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) commission's success and then compare it to today’s commission proposals.
Jerry Brito, Veronique de Rugy | Dec 2009
Using recipient report data from and economic and political data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau,, and others, we have compiled a series of facts about…
Jerry Brito, Veronique de Rugy | Sep 2008
This paper outlines some solutions to the midnight regulation problem and offers a new idea on how to deal with…

Policy Briefs

Eli Dourado, Jerry Brito | Mar 06, 2012
Like gardens, the Internet developed without government intervention. Unnecessary regulation could break down the norms and practices that caused the Internet flourish in the first place.
Jerry Brito | Feb 04, 2010
With record spending and deficits come calls for reform. Entrenched political problems, however, make spending reform easier said than done. Independent commissions are often suggested as a way to tackle intractable political problems, but not all congressionally created commissions are the same.
Gabriel Lucjan Okolski, Jerry Brito | Apr 2009
Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Jerry Brito and Mercatus Masters Fellow Gabriel Okolski address what it costs for states to develop transparency websites.
Jerry Brito, Veronique de Rugy | Nov 2008
Veronique de Rugy and Jerry Brito make recommendations to curb the proliferation of poor policies at the end of presidential tenures.

Testimony & Comments

Jerry Brito, Eli Dourado | Aug 14, 2014
As the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has found, certain virtual currency businesses are money service businesses. Typically such money service businesses engage in money transmission and as a result must acquire a money transmitter license in each state in which they do business.
Jerry Brito | Apr 02, 2014
Online virtual currencies are nothing new. They have existed for decades—from World of Warcraft Gold to Facebook Credits to e-gold. Neither are online payments systems new. PayPal, Visa, and Western Union Pay are all examples. So what is it about Bitcoin that makes it unique? Bitcoin is the world’s first completely decentralized digital currency. Its decentralized nature results in lower transactions costs, making it particularly attractive to small businesses. It could also be an attractive electronic payments option for consumers, including the unbanked and underbanked. Risks include volatility and security, but these are not problems inherent in Bitcoin’s design.
Jerry Brito | Nov 18, 2013
We are ultimately advocating not for Bitcoin, but for innovation. It is important that policymakers allow this experimentation to continue. Policymakers should work to clarify how Bitcoin is regulated and to normalize its regulation so that we have the opportunity to learn just how innovative Bitcoin can be.
Jerry Brito, Eli Dourado, Adam Thierer | Apr 23, 2013
In analyzing the proposed policies being developed to carry out Congress’s mandate, it is important to remember that the purpose of the mandate is to open America’s skies to commercial UAS use in order to reap the social benefits that such use will bring.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

Jul 17, 2014

The New York Department of Financial Services released a draft proposal today for licensing and regulating virtual currency businesses, like Bitcoin. Mercatus scholar Jerry Brito reacts to their “BitLicense” proposal at The Technology Liberation Front, noting that while New York is on the right track, there is room for improvement.
Jul 14, 2014

A more plausible argument is that while displaying a photo may be protected, a prohibition on taking photos would not be a prohibition on "speech." This is because unlike displaying photos, when taking a picture one is not speaking to an audience—there is no message being conveyed. So does that mean we can prohibit the capture of images without the subject's consent?
Jun 16, 2014

Consider the “Red Flag Laws” of the late 19th century, which required early automobiles traveling on roads to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag in order to warn others on horses of the vehicle’s approach.
Jun 02, 2014

Some people wonder why libertarians are skeptical of antitrust. For a hint, you have to look no further than the recent battle between book-selling giant Amazon and the publisher Hachette.

Public Interest Comments


Jerry Brito
  • twitter:

Research Areas


Jerry Brito, Andrea Castillo | May 03, 2016
As the world’s first decentralized digital currency, Bitcoin has the potential to revolutionize online payment systems and commerce in ways that benefit both consumers and businesses. Individuals can now avoid using an intermediary such as PayPal or submitting credit card information to a third party for verification—both of which often involve transaction fees, restrictions, and security risks—and instead use bitcoins to pay each other directly for goods or services.


Jerry Brito, Adam Thierer | May 13, 2014
Adam Thierer, senior research fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, discusses his latest book Permissionless Innovation: The Continuing Case for Comprehensive Technological Freedom. Thierer discusses which types of policies promote technological discoveries as well as those that stifle the freedom to innovate. He also takes a look at new technologies — such as driverless cars, drones, big data, smartphone apps, and Google Glass — and how the American public will adapt to them.
' '