Tech Policy

Tech Policy


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.
Adam Thierer | May 17, 2014
Privacy law today faces two interrelated problems. The first is an information control problem. Like so many other fields of modern cyberlaw — intellectual property, online safety, cybersecurity, etc. — privacy law is being challenged by intractable Information Age realities. Specifically, it is easier than ever before for information to circulate freely and harder than ever to bottle it up once it is released. …
Adam Thierer, Brent Skorup | Apr 29, 2014
The television distribution marketplace has been substantially regulated since the advent of broadcast television in the 1940s and 1950s. The Federal Communications Commission and Congress have relied on several justifications for the regulatory protection of the system of local broadcasters envisioned post–World War II, namely, (1) universal service, (2) localism, (3) free television, and (4) competition.
Eli Dourado, Andrea Castillo | Apr 17, 2014
This paper will describe the current dynamic provision of cybersecurity and explain how a technocratic solution like the Cybersecurity Framework could weaken this process and ultimately undermine cybersecurity.
Daniel Lyons | Mar 18, 2014
Although intended to promote competition and innovation among Internet content providers,“net neutrality” rules reduce innovation by broadband service providers. Within limits, broadband providers may offer different plans that vary the quantity and quality of their service. But they usually cannot vary the service itself: broadband providers are generally required to offer customers access to all lawful Internet traffic, or none at all. This all-or-nothing broadband homogenization places America increasingly at odds with international markets, particularly with regard to mobile broadband. This paper examines the diverse array of wireless broadband products available worldwide, and uses these international innovations to illuminate the difficulties posed by net neutrality principles in the United States. Broadband access is merely one part of a much broader Internet ecosystem. Regulators’ focus on one narrow set of relationships in that ecosystem retards innovation and limits the ability of Americans to share in the global revolution currently taking place for mobile services.
Eli Dourado, Alexander Tabarrok | Nov 21, 2013
We mine two underexplored traditions for insights into intellectual property: the public choice or Virginia school, centered on James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, and the Bloomington or Institutional Analysis and Development school, centered on Elinor Ostrom and Vincent Ostrom. We apply the perspectives of each school to issues of intellectual property and develop new insights, questions, and focuses of attention. We also explore tensions and synergies between the two schools on issues of intellectual property.

Testimony & Comments

Brent Skorup | Jun 20, 2014
Notwithstanding the DACA recommendations for a reconstituted communications competition agency, Congress should also consider alternatives such as abolishing the FCC entirely and relying on antitrust agencies or merging the FCC’s responsibilities with the Federal Trade Commission.
Brent Skorup | Apr 25, 2014
Former senior Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials Gerald Faulhaber and David Farber noted without irony that US spectrum policy resembles GOSPLAN, the Soviet planning agency that distributed scarce inputs to producers in every sector of the Soviet economy. The woeful inefficiencies and waste resulting from the current system of regulatory allocation are predictable, yet avoidable.
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.
Brent Skorup | Mar 18, 2014
Current television law makes programming agreements circuitous and distorts market forces. The Congressional Research Service says that “the negotiations between programmers and distributors, although private, are strongly affected by statutory and regulatory requirements and cannot be properly characterized as free-market.” Every television industry segment has received some regulatory favors though the decades. Most concerning is that there is “a thicket of communications law requirements aimed at protecting and supporting the broadcast industry,” as the Copyright Office has said.
Eli Dourado | Mar 10, 2014
That many nongovernmental stakeholder communities are electing to participate in Internet governance processes on their own account implies that governments lack the consent necessary to legitimately exercise a primary role.
Brent Skorup | Feb 24, 2014
Supporters of the blackout rules—like some sports leagues and broadcasters—argue that forcing blackouts on cable and satellite providers helps maintain free over-the-air broadcasts. That specious argument should be disregarded. Unlike the 1970s, few Americans now rely solely on broadcast television for their entertainment, so the FCC’s ill-advised attempt to shape markets only inhibits free competition.

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?
Jul 08, 2014

Washington, D.C. cabbies recently put together a slow-moving taxi caravan in protest of disruptive transportation services Uber and Lyft, claiming that existing transportation regulations need to be applied to these novel services.
Jul 06, 2014

Regulators at Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission should be happy that the market is adapting and that companies like Uber and Lyft are solving the asymmetric information problem. Instead of congratulating these companies, however, the PUC has pre-emptively banned these services.
Jun 26, 2014

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, unfortunately, and ruled that Aereo violates copyright law with its cloud-based television system. Future online technologies are possibly at risk of litigation and copyright liability because of legal uncertainly created by the Court about the bounds of copyright.
Jun 18, 2014

The federal court striking down the FCC’s net neutrality rules gave the FCC regulatory tools to enable more broadband competition. Rather than attempt to meddle in peering agreements, the FCC should turn its focus to pressuring states and localities into fast-tracking new, commercial broadband rollouts.




Adam Thierer | June 02, 2014
Adam Thierer Discusses Permissionless Innovation on Real Clear Radio Hour

Recent Events

Please join the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and Senior Research Fellow Adam Thierer for a Capitol Hill Campus program exploring emerging technologies and the freedom, or lack thereof, to innovate.


Tom W. Bell | Apr 29, 2014
Intellectual Privilege reveals copyright as a statutory privilege that threatens our natural and constitutional rights. From this fresh perspective comes fresh solutions to copyright’s problems.

Media Clippings

Adam Thierer | Jul 03, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Real Clear Policy.
Jerry Brito | Jun 02, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Yahoo News.
Jerry Brito | May 29, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Advertising Age.
Adam Thierer | May 16, 2014
Adam Thierer quoted at Tech News World.
Adam Thierer | May 04, 2014
Adam Thierer new book, "Permissionless Innovation" cited in the Wall Street Journal.
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