Tech Policy

Tech Policy


Brent Skorup | Aug 19, 2015
The largest challenge in wireless telecommunications policy is transferring spectrum from inefficient legacy operators such as the federal government to bandwidth-hungry wireless broadband operators. Delay results in annual consumer welfare losses totaling hundreds of billions of dollars. One solution would be to auction overlay licenses to commercial bidders and give spectrum incumbents a clearing deadline.
Anthony D. Glosson | Aug 10, 2015
This paper seeks to synthesize the available legal resources on active defense. It confronts the intertwined definitional, legal, and policy questions implicated in the active defense debate. The paper then proposes a legal framework to authorize active defenses subject to liability for third-party damages, an approach grounded in the technical and economic realities of the network security market.
Robert Krol | Jun 24, 2015
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Robert Krol demonstrates that governments are more likely to set up barriers to new technology when the performance advantage of the new technology is small or incremental and lobbying costs are low. Incumbent businesses threatened by a new technology may use the government to block businesses using the new technology from entering the market. Ultimately, government protection of incumbent businesses reduces consumer well-being.
Eli Dourado, Andrea Castillo | Jun 22, 2015
This paper will review the laws and standards governing federal cybersecurity policy and will highlight how overlapping responsibilities and unclear lines of authority have accompanied increasing rates of federal information security failures. The paper will then describe how these systemic cybersecurity weaknesses demonstrate the federal government to be an especially poor candidate for managing national systems, and it will explain the shortcomings of a top-down, technocratic approach.
Eli Dourado, Andrea Castillo | Jun 22, 2015
After briefly outlining the current cybersecurity information sharing proposals, we will examine the performance of the many similar programs that the federal government has operated for years. The government’s inability to properly implement previous information sharing systems even internally, along with its ongoing failures to secure its own information systems, casts doubt on the viability of proposed government-led information sharing initiatives to improve the nation’s cybersecurity. We will then examine the flawed assumptions that underlie information sharing advocacy before exploring solutions that can comprehensively address the nation’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
Adam Thierer, Christopher Koopman, Anne Hobson, Chris Kuiper | May 26, 2015
This paper argues that the sharing economy—through the use of the Internet and real time reputational feedback mechanisms—is providing a solution to the lemons problem that many regulators have spent decades attempting to overcome.

Testimony & Comments

Christopher Koopman, Matthew Mitchell, Adam Thierer | May 26, 2015
The commission should shift enforcement efforts away from stopping private restraint of trade and toward stopping public restraint of trade. In light of George Stigler’s observation that “the state has one basic resource which in pure principle is not shared with even the mightiest of its citizens: the power to coerce,” the commission would be wise to adopt Commissioner Wright’s approach and shift resources toward fighting public restraint of trade.
Eli Dourado, Ryan Hagemann, Adam Thierer | Apr 24, 2015
The FAA must carefully consider the potential effect of UASs on the US economy. If it does not, innovation and technological advancement in the commercial UAS space will find a home elsewhere in the world. Many of the most innovative UAS advances are already happening abroad, not in the United States. If the United States is to be a leader in the development of UAS technologies, the FAA must open the American skies to innovation.
Adam Thierer | Feb 11, 2015
We should remain patient and continue to embrace permissionless innovation to ensure that the Internet of Things thrives and American consumers and companies continue to be global leaders in the digital economy.
Brent Skorup | Jan 22, 2015
The focus of the committee’s white paper on how to “foster” various television distributors, while understandable, was nonetheless misguided. Such an inquiry will likely lead to harmful rules that favor some companies and programmers over others, based on political whims. Congress and the FCC should get out of “fostering” the video distribution markets completely. A light-touch regulatory approach will prevent the damaging effects of lobbying for privilege and will ensure the primacy of consumer choice.
Adam Thierer, Ryan Hagemann | Sep 23, 2014
As part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA), Congress ordered the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to integrate unmanned aircraft systems (UASs)—sometimes referred to as drones—into the National Airspace System by September 2015. As part of that effort, the FAA is currently accepting comments on its “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft” (Section 336 of the FMRA) and the FAA’s enforcement authority over model aircraft as affirmed by the statute.
Brent Skorup | Sep 15, 2014
Though an effective rallying cry, there is no consensus about what “net neutrality” or the “open Internet” means when it comes to putting rules on paper. Professor Barbara van Schewick has said, “If there is no rule against blocking in a proposal, it’s not a network neutrality proposal.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

Aug 17, 2015

As Bitcoin has grown, so has the debate about whether limiting the size of the blockchain – which records Bitcoin transactions – is truly sustainable. Recently, some Bitcoin developers have suggested creating a fork, meaning the underlying network would split and and create two incompatible blockchains. The Mercatus Center’s Eli Dourado and Andrea Castillo share their thoughts on this latest development.
Aug 13, 2015

How would you feel if the government could access a trove of information about who you are, what you do, who your friends are and what they do by collecting it from email and cellphone providers, search engines, social networking sites, and other websites every day? If you'd be outraged, hold on to that feeling. Back in 1986 — in a bygone era before email, the modern Internet, Facebook, the widespread use of cellphones and sharing economy sites — the government passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. And believe it or not, this is still the law that protects the privacy of your electronic life in 2015.
Aug 11, 2015

ast week, the information security industry temporarily dodged a bureaucratic blunder that could have inadvertently criminalized basic software bug testing. Heeding the near-unanimous dissent from cybersecurity professionals, the U.S. Commerce Department wisely rescinded its proposal to impose export controls limiting the selling or sharing of "zero-day exploits," software vulnerabilities that only the discoverer knows about.
Aug 10, 2015

The recent showdown between ride-sharing service Uber and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio provides a vibrant illustration of what we economists call “public choice”—basically, the study of politics through the lens of economic theory. Mayor de Blasio attempted to limit ride-sharing drivers, but Uber exposed this proposal, unleashing thousands of New Yorkers onto city council. After a weeklong public debate, de Blasio dropped the proposal. Uber’s strategy, de Blasio’s forfeit, and even the actions of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Scott Stringer provide important lessons for our nation on the dangers of idealizing politics.
Jul 29, 2015

Mercatus Center scholars have repeatedly documented the costs of occupational licensing and offered suggestions for how to reform or eliminate unnecessary licensing practices.
Jul 28, 2015

As the threat of cyberwar looms more saliently on the horizon, many countries have turned to controlling the sale of "cyberweapons." But the U.S. government's proposed cyberweapon crackdown, part of a multinational arms-export control agreement called the Wassenaar Arrangement, could be used to criminalize basic bug-testing of software and ultimately weaken Internet security.


This week’s charts use data from three sources: a July 8 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report entitled “Information Security: Cyber Threats and Data Breaches Illustrate Need for Stronger Controls across Federal Agencies,” the Office of Management and Budget’s Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) Report to Congress for FY 2014, and the White House’s “Cybersecurity Sprint Results” report from July 2015. The charts display reported federal material information security weakness and degree of compliance with prevailing federal cybersecurity standards in fiscal year (FY) 2014.


Jonathan Camp is a research assistant for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Eli Dourado is a research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of its Technology Policy Program. He specializes in Internet governance, intellectual property, cryptocurrency, Internet security, and the economics of technology.
Michael Farren is a research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Michael was a Mercatus Center Frédéric Bastiat Fellow.
Christopher Koopman is a research fellow with the Project for the Study of American Capitalism at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he is the director of the Project for the Study of American Capitalism. He is also an adjunct professor of economics at Mason. In his writing and research, he specializes in economic freedom and economic growth, public-choice economics, and the economics of government favoritism toward particular businesses.


Eli Dourado | August 04, 2015
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) is up for a vote in the Senate this week. Eli Dourado talks about the implications of this cyber threat information sharing legislation on Marketplace

Upcoming Events

Sep 15, 2015
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University invites you to join Eli Dourado, Director of the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center, for a Capitol Hill Campus discussion of the state of federal information security and how to improve it.

Recent Events

This program will: provide an introduction to net neutrality and briefly explain the history of the debate, lay out the arguments for and against net neutrality, and discuss mechanisms to ensure the Internet remains a vibrantly free conduit and tool for ideas, innovation and economic growth.


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 | May 05, 2015
This excerpt originally appeared in the Boston Review.
Adam Thierer, Christopher Koopman | Jan 25, 2015
This excerpt originally appeared in Wall Street Journal.
Eli Dourado | Sep 06, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in The Hill.
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.
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