Jerry Brito

Jerry Brito

  • Senior Research Fellow

Jerry Brito is 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 hosts 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. 

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Published Research

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.
Jerry Brito, Andrea Castillo | Aug 19, 2013
As the world’s first decentralized digital currency, Bitcoin has the potential to revolutionize online payments systems in a way that benefits individuals and businesses. Instead of using an intermediary such as PayPal or submitting credit card information to a third party for verification—both of which often include transaction fees and other restrictions—Bitcoin allows individuals to pay each other directly for goods or services.
Jerry Brito, Tate Watkins | Apr 10, 2012
There has been no shortage of attention devoted to cybersecurity, with a wide range of experts warning of potential doomsday scenarios should the government not act to better secure the Internet. But this is not the first time we have been warned of impending dangers; indeed, there are many parallels between present portrayals of cyberthreats and the portrayal of Iraq prior to 2003, or the perceived bomber gap in the late 1950s.
Jerry Brito | Jan 2011
In this journal article, Jerry Brito first looks at the roots of success for Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) commissions. He then compares them to recent commission proposals to limit federal spending.

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 | 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.
Jerry Brito, Jerry Ellig | Apr 15, 2011
Jerry Brito and Jerry Ellig submitted a Public Interest Comment on the Connect America Fund.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

Mar 10, 2014

There is zero evidence that the public lacks access to films because actors do not enjoy a separate copyright in their performance sufficient to motivate them to create. This means that the only practical effect of such a new right will be to sow confusion and draw extortionist suits against existing film owners. This may well be the first time the Motion Picture Association of America will oppose copyright expansion, and they will be right.
Mar 06, 2014

Tech entrepreneurs have successfully disrupted industry after industry — from journalism to retailing to music and TV — by leveraging the internet-driven principle of permissionless innovation. It’s time for finance to be added to that list. After all, consumers are the ones who benefit from innovation that makes financial services cheaper, faster, and more convenient. Ensuring that consumers are absolutely safe may not make them better off overall if doing so means they only have access to expensive, telegraph-era services.
Feb 24, 2014

Bitcoin has been going through a rough patch lately. The slow motion implosion of the once-largest exchange. The arrest of a notable evangelist. The bug that the media blew out of proportion, but that attackers still exploited. This is what the world has heard about Bitcoin in the last few weeks.
Jan 27, 2014

The reality is that the court decision is disastrous, but not because it struck down the net neutrality rules. The suit by Verizon challenging the 2010 rules was ultimately a challenge of the FCC’s statutory authority to regulate the Internet.

Public Interest Comments


Jerry Brito


Jerry Brito, Andrea Castillo | Jan 23, 2014
Como la primera moneda digital descentralizada del mundo, Bitcoin tiene el potencial de revolucionar los sistemas de pago en línea de una manera que beneficia a los consumidores y las empresas. En lugar de utilizar un intermediario, como PayPal, o entregar información de tarjeta de crédito a un tercer partido para su verificación—ya que los dos incluyen cargos de transacción y otras restricciones— Bitcoin permite que los individuos paguen directamente entre sí para bienes o servicios.


Jerry Brito | April 22, 2014
Patrick Byrne, CEO of, discusses how became one of the first online retail stores to accept Bitcoin. Byrne provides insight into how Bitcoin lowers transaction costs, making it beneficial to both retailers and consumers, and how governments are attempting to limit access to Bitcoin. Byrne also discusses his project, which raises awareness for market manipulation and naked short selling, as well as his philanthropic work and support for education reform.
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