Tech Policy

Tech Policy

Research

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.
Christopher Koopman | Feb 27, 2015
The real issues should not be lost in the noise. Are people sharing? Not always. But, then again, that really isn’t what the sharing economy is about. Instead, they are benefitting from mutually beneficial interactions that would not be possible without the sharing economy’s platforms.
Adam Thierer | Feb 18, 2015
This paper highlights some of the opportunities presented by the rise of the so-called “Internet of Things” and wearable technology in particular, and encourages policymakers to allow these technologies to develop in a relatively unabated fashion. As with other new and highly disruptive digital technologies, however, the Internet of Things and wearable tech will challenge existing social, economic, and legal norms.

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

Jul 18, 2015

As of July 1, Virginia now licenses ridesharing companies — such as Uber and Lyft  —  as “transportation network companies.” This is part of the legislation signed into law this past February, which allows these companies to operate throughout the commonwealth. Among other requirements, this new law also requires ridesharing companies to pay an initial licensing fee of $100,000 and another $60,000 each year to renew their license.
Jul 15, 2015

The sharing economy is here to stay, and Washington is beginning to take notice. While we often enjoy talking about jobs, growth and opportunity in abstract terms, the sharing economy offers a chance to support these ideas in a very concrete way. For the 80 million Americans engaging in the sharing economy, both to make money and make life more affordable, this offers a crucial opportunity for policymakers to remove barriers to making it work for everyone.
Jul 09, 2015

Taxi drivers in Paris rioted recently in protest of the presence of the ride-sharing company Uber in France. Similar taxi protests have occurred in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and other cities around the world. Government regulations historically enforced rules that created taxi monopolies in most cities, justifying these rules as a way to protect customers from being overcharged for trips. However, 21st century technology has overtaken 20th century regulations. It's time to deregulate city taxi markets and let the competitive process work, which benefits consumers.
Jul 04, 2015

For years, cybersecurity hawks have painted grim pictures of a "cyber Pearl Harbor," when sophisticated hackers will be able to infiltrate and commandeer critical U.S. networks to wreak whatever havoc they choose. Yet for some reason, when the most advanced cyber-espionage malware known was discovered on American systems, the usually indefatigable "tough on cyberterror" crowd was quiet.
Jun 30, 2015

The Internet of Things is the hot new fixation in the world of technology, and it’s already raising concerns about safety, security, and privacy – many of which are persuasively documented in the special package just published here. We all face a host of new vulnerabilities in a world in which we’re always plugged into the Internet, and the objects around us are constantly sharing data about our personal and professional lives.
Jun 22, 2015

The sharing economy has the potential to create enormous economic gains while enhancing the quality of our everyday lives. The important thing is to allow innovators and entrepreneurs to find the new ways that this can be accomplished without shackling them to work according to the rules developed for a bygone era.

Charts

This weeks’ charts use data from the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) FY 2014 Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance report to display the agency share, type, and number of reported federal information security incidents for FY 2014 and over time.

Experts

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.
Christopher Koopman is a Research Fellow for the Project for the Study of American Capitalism for 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.
Brent Skorup is a research fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research topics include wireless policy, new media regulation, antitrust, and telecommunications.

Podcasts

Jerry Ellig | May 29, 2015
The FCC is considering offering subsidies for broadband internet service for economically underpriviledged people. Jerry Ellig discusses the proposal on the Tim Farley Show on POTUS (Sirius XM)

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.

Books

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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