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.


Alexander Salter | Sep 23, 2015
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University conducts an economically rigorous analysis of the problems posed by space debris and concludes that the problem is significantly more legally, institutionally, and economically complicated than some may believe.
Brent Skorup | Aug 19, 2015
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows that auctioning overlay licenses is an effective means of repurposing underused federal spectrum for consumer uses. Overlay licenses have been used to reassign nonfederal spectrum but never federal spectrum. The paper presents new evidence from a 2006 spectrum auction (AWS-1) that suggests billions of dollars of underused federal spectrum could be deployed more quickly than other policy alternatives. Crucially, overlay licenses allow agencies to receive payment for spectrum sales, and this reordering of spectrum rights would benefit taxpayers and wireless broadband users.
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
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.
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.

Testimony & Comments

Eli Dourado, Samuel Hammond | Nov 06, 2015
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing to implement a national registration system for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), the details of which are to be recom- mended by a task force no later than November 20. The stated aim of the registry is to assist in identifying owners and operators of UASs that violate the law and endanger safety, thereby closing a perceived gap in enforcement. This comment highlights several major procedural concerns, followed by an examination of whether the safety benefits of a registry are likely to outweigh the societal and budgetary costs.
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.

Speeches & Presentations

E-Mail Newsletter


Eli Dourado | Sep 22, 2015
Is East Texas the next Silicon Valley? If patent activity were a measure of innovation, you might think so. Marshall, TX, a city with a population of 23,523 located near the Louisiana border, is known to every patent attorney in the country for its prodigious volume of patent litigation. This chart shows the number of patent cases filed in federal district court in the Eastern District of Texas versus the average of the 93 other federal judicial districts in the first half of 2015, using data compiled by Lex Machina.


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 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.
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.
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.


Adam Thierer | October 01, 2015
The world today is seemingly always plugged into the Internet and technologies are constantly sharing data about our personal and professional lives. Device connectivity is on an upward trend with Cisco estimating that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. Collection and data sharing by these devices introduces a host of new vulnerabilities, raising concerns about safety, security, and privacy for policymakers and regulators.


Adam Thierer | September 21, 2015
Adam Thierer joins this segment of the a16z podcast to discuss “technopanic” cycles; emerging areas of interest; and where “best practices” help or hurt when it comes to soft regulation.

Recent Events

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.


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.
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