Joshua Brustein

The GOP's Tech Strategy Is About to Change

Now that Democrats are taking over the executive branch, expect Congressional Republicans to shift gears on tech policy. Instead of trying to rewrite key internet legislation, the GOP will likely focus instead on stopping Democrats from doing anything at all. A prime example of this dynamic is the maneuvering around the Federal Communications Commission.

In the 'Year of 5G,' Many Americans Still Struggle to Get Online

This spring the US government was planning to focus on its strategy for rolling out fifth-generation wireless networks, bringing faster internet connections to power movie downloads, telemedicine, self-driving cars, and more. Then the new coronavirus hit, sending workers and schoolchildren home to try to do their jobs and continue their education on laptops.

Even Privacy Advocates Are Tracking You Online

The primary purpose of Californians for Consumer Privacy, an advocacy group formed by San Francisco real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart, is to push for a ballot initiative adding restrictions on companies that profit from the collection of personal data.But each time someone visits the organization's website, software gleans what information it can about her, then sends that information to Facebook, including her IP address, what web pages she was on before and after visiting, and so on.

What Happens When States Have Their Own Net Neutrality Rules?

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai spent 2017 dismantling Obama-era rules on network neutrality. A handful of lawmakers in liberal-leaning US states plan to spend 2018 building them back up. Even supporters of state legislation on net neutrality think this may go too far. CA State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill that would only apply to behavior within the state, saying any other approach would be too vulnerable to legal challenge. “We're expecting that there will be litigation,” he said.

How Silicon Valley Became the FCC Chair’s Scapegoat

In a speech on Nov 28, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai angrily denounced celebrities and tech companies who have been criticizing his plans to undo the 2015 rules. Hollywood is always a good scapegoat, of course, and Republicans looking to stir up anger in 2017 do well to frame their issues as a response to the unchecked power of Silicon Valley.

Netflix Is No Longer the Poster Child for Net Neutrality. Who’s Next?

When Washington became enmeshed in a yearlong debate over internet regulation in early 2014, Netflix emerged as one of the biggest champions of network neutrality. When Netflix wrote its letter in 2014, it had about 33 million subscribers in the US. It also wasn’t yet the cultural force it is today. The company has since increased American subscribers by nearly 50 percent while revenue there doubled. This gives it considerable leverage in negotiations with internet providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.

Smaller tech companies still discuss the issue in more urgent terms. When Snap filed to go public in 2017, it warned that weaker rules could allow mobile internet providers to undermine its service in various ways. “Were that to happen, our business would be seriously harmed,” Snap wrote in a securities filing.