On March 8, 2019, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took to Medium to outline her plan to break up digital monopolies. Her proposal aims to restore competition in the tech sector and ensure online platforms play by the rules. Warren goes beyond the familiar “break ‘em up” rhetoric and actually offers sustainable sector-specific regulation -- an important step in advancing the policy debate around Big Tech.
The connective tissue that unites Louis Brandeis’s view of legislative action, the creation and enforcement of antitrust law, and the use of sectoral regulation is the willingness to experiment. We are well-acquainted with Brandeis’s invocation of the “laboratories of the states” but his reliance on experimentation, what we might today call innovation, runs much deeper than that well-known aphorism.
On Feb 25, 2019, Free Press released Beyond Fixing Facebook. The authors, Timothy Karr and Craig Aaron, look beyond Facebook to address a deeper problem infecting the entire "attention economy": the abuse of targeted advertising.
For the uninitiated, net neutrality is the principle that the companies that provide access to the Internet – Comcast, AT&T, Charter and Verizon, among others – should not be able to block, slow down, or otherwise discriminate against any particular content, application, or service. In other words, the companies providing the on-ramp to the Internet should not be able to pick winners and losers on the Internet.
President Donald Trump’s war on the press hasn’t stopped. This week, he praised a $250 million libel lawsuit against the Washington Post, got some support from a Supreme Court Justice to review the nation’s libel laws, and issued his sharpest words yet against the New York Times, calling the newspaper “a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” Political journalists often ask the question: Is Trump winning his war on the media? Winning or losing, the point is that the war is ongoing. As we stated a year ago, the question should be: Are the American people the losers in this fight?
On February 13, 2019, the White House released the American Broadband Initiative Milestones Report, an update on the Trump Administration’s signature inter-agency strategy to stimulate increased private investment in broadband infrastructure and services to fill broadband connectivity gaps in America.
On Feb 7, the House Communications Subcommittee held a hearing, “Preserving an Open Internet for Consumers, Small Businesses, and Free Speech,” another conversation on net neutrality and an opportunity for lawmakers to spend three hours claiming they support an open internet, while rehashing old, partisan debates and making little progress towards a legislative solution.
I’ve been asked tonight to reflect on my career and talk about how I’ve been able to succeed in the field of telecommunications, media and technology policy. So, I guess I’m at that point of my career where I’ve accomplished enough to impart wisdom to the next generation of lawyers…. or maybe I’m just really old. So tonight, I’d like to talk about three qualities that have allowed me to have a successful career: Flexibility, Humility, and Connectivity.
In the world of competition law, Louis Brandeis applauded “the introduction of two governmental devices designed to protect the rights and opportunities of the individual.” One was, of course, antitrust. The second was the creation of “[c]ommissions to regulate public utilities.” Brandeis always preferred competition to regulated monopoly, but he recognized that there were times when sectoral regulation was needed, as, for example with local gas, water, and telephone monopolies. He viewed such instances as “exceptional” but obviously important.