Technology Policy Program

Technology Policy Program

The Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University works within the university setting to improve the state of knowledge and debate about the regulation of the Internet and high technology.

Research

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.
James C. Cooper | Nov 05, 2013
Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act gives the FTC an undefined mandate to prosecute “unfair methods of competition.” For nearly 100 years, the Commission has searched tirelessly for the meaning of this amorphous concept. Since 1992, the FTC has continued to define Section 5 through a series of consent decrees. Absent any external constraint, the FTC appears to have broad discretion to define the reach of Section 5 beyond the Sherman Act. This discretion causes uncertainty, which is likely to deter beneficial conduct.
Jerry Ellig | Oct 18, 2013
Historically, the FCC’s Universal Service Fund has paid for two programs that subsidize telephone service for low-income households. Lifeline, the larger program, pays phone companies to reduce monthly subscription fees for low-income households by an average of $9.25 per month, with some states providing additional funding. Link Up subsidizes one-time connection charges by up to $30.2 In 2012, the FCC voted to phase out Link Up.
William Luther | Sep 17, 2013
Cryptocurrencies are digital alternatives to traditional government-issued paper monies. Given the current state of technology and skepticism regarding the future purchasing power of existing monies, why have cryptocurrencies failed to gain widespread acceptance?

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.
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.
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.
Adam Thierer | May 31, 2013
While it is unclear what may come from this proceeding, the danger exists that it represents the beginning of a regulatory regime for a new set of information technologies that are still in their infancy. Fearing hypothetical worst-case scenarios about the misuse of some IoT technologies, some policy activists and policymakers could seek to curb or control their development.
Adam Thierer | Apr 24, 2013
Even if Do Not Track takes root and some consumers turn it on, many will be incentivized by ad networks or publishers to opt right back in to “tracking” to retain access to sites and services they desire. In doing so, they may end up sharing even more information than they do today. Moreover, this may drive still greater consolidation since larger players will be in a position to grant Internet-wide opt-in exceptions, while smaller providers cannot…

Speeches & Presentations

E-Mail Newsletter

Charts

Experts

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.
Adam Thierer is a senior research fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He specializes in technology, media, Internet, and free-speech policies, with a particular focus on online safety and digital privacy. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Forbes, and he has appeared on national television and radio. Thierer is a frequent guest lecturer and has testified numerous times on Capitol Hill.
Eli Dourado is a research fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Brent Skorup is a research fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research topics include radio spectrum rights, antitrust, new media regulation, and telecommunications.
Jerry Ellig is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a former assistant professor of economics at George Mason University. He specializes in the federal regulatory process, economic regulation, and telecommunications regulation.

Videos

Jerry Brito | April 03, 2014
Jerry Brito Discusses Bitcoin at the Committee on Small Business…

Podcasts

Adam Thierer | April 09, 2014
Adam Thierer Discusses Permissionless Innovation and Tech Policy on the CATO Daily Podcast

Recent Events

Terry D. Kramer, Paul Brigner, Gary Fowlie, Milton L. Mueller, Eli Dourado | November 14, 2012
Please join the Mercatus Center for a panel discussion on the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunication (WCIT). Once in a generation, governments from around the world gather to revise the International Telecommunication Regulations, a UN-sponsored treaty that governs international telecom practices.

Books

Adam Thierer | Mar 25, 2014
What policy vision will govern the future of technological innovation? Will innovators be forced to constantly seek the blessing of public officials before they develop and deploy new devices and services, or will they be generally left free to experiment with new technologies and business models?
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