Op-Ed

The Summer of Our Discontent

The summer of our discontent steams more hotly by the day: a deadly and surging pandemic taking more than 130,000 lives across the nation; an economy bleeding millions of jobs and livelihoods and denying basic subsistence to many; mass protests assembling in streets nationwide to demonstrate against systemic racism and police brutality; and dysfunctional government at all levels and in every branch from White House to Congress to courthouses to statehouses and often beyond. Can we handle it? Can America conquer its ills and overcome? Can our democracy itself deal with its discontents? 

The Most Important Privacy Case You've Never Heard Of

One of the most important privacy cases you’ve never heard of is being litigated right now in a federal district court in Maine. ACA v. Frey is a challenge by the nation’s largest broadband Internet access providers to a Maine law that protects the privacy of the state's broadband Internet users.

How to combat online voter suppresion

With five months to go until a presidential election that promises to be a major test of American democratic institutions, American laws are in desperate need of update to address digital forms of voter suppression and how political debate and campaigning has moved online. Several ideas for rules that government could enact to provide the necessary transparency to help ensure that voter suppression does not run unchecked online include:

Pandemic Reveals Need to Make Airwaves More Resilient

The pandemic has put the spotlight on the challenges facing the nation’s wireless communications infrastructure. As patients and doctors use telemedicine; children and teachers use distance learning; and parents telework from home, our spectrum resources are being stretched to the limit. If we can’t create more spectrum, we must use it more efficiently. Just as highways into a city may have heavy traffic only during the rush hours but are largely open the remaining twenty hours a day, there may be opportunities for commercial and government organizations to share the mid-range spectrum.

Navigating Together In A More Connected Society

Should Congress decide to consider broadband infrastructure legislation, we recommend the following. First, recognize that private providers and others have built incredibly robust and reliable broadband networks. In other words, policymakers should make sure "to do no harm" and continue "light-touch" regulatory policies.  Second, Congress should focus on removing barriers to deployment, especially in rural areas. This should include facilitating access to poles, ducts, conduit and rights-of-way at cost-based and non-discriminatory rates, terms, and conditions.

Broadband Access Is A Civil Right We Can’t Afford To Lose – But Many Can’t Afford To Have

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the digital divide in an unprecedented way. As civil rights leaders and a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, we are calling on our nation’s leadership to enact a robust connectivity plan to address the immediate and future needs of marginalized communities. An astonishing 34 percent of Black adults, 39 percent of Latino adults, and 47 percent of those on tribal lands do not have a home broadband connection. This compares with the 21 percent of White adults who do not have broadband at home.

John Bolton's book excerpt claims in 2019 President Trump offered to reverse Huawei's criminal prosecution if China agreed to a trade deal

President Donald Trump’s conversations with China President Xi Jinping reflected not only the incoherence in his trade policy but also the confluence in President Trump’s mind of his own political interests and US national interests. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and others repeatedly pushed to strictly enforce US regulations and criminal laws against fraudulent conduct, including both firms’ flouting of US sanctions against Iran and other rogue states.

The dangers of tech-driven solutions to COVID-19

Contact tracing done wrong threatens privacy and invites mission creep into adjacent fields, including policing. Government actors might (and do) distort and corrupt public-health messaging to serve their own interests. Automated policing and content control raise the prospect of a slide into authoritarianism. But most critics have focused narrowly on classic privacy concerns about data leakage and mission creep—especially the risk of improper government access to and use of sensitive data.

A New Approach to Closing the Digital Divide: Direct Giving

Where communities cannot access the basic elements of a healthy and prosperous life, technological solutions that eliminate or, at least, substantially reduce the transaction costs of reallocating capital from the “haves” to the “have nots” should be implemented. These solutions need not come from an establish tech company or even a startup, something as lean as a nonprofit can make this sort of solution tenable and effective. We need a direct giving platform for donors to cover people’s broadband bills, including upgrades to higher-speed services.

Now more than ever, we need high-speed internet for all

Having high-speed access, a functional computer and the requisite tech skills are imperative if we expect equitable learning outcomes. The issue is equally problematic for the worker who cannot work at home because her only device is a phone or the faith leader who cannot reach his congregation because he does not have the tech skills required to do so. There are several reasons for lack of home access. The greatest, by far, is cost.