Yale / CFP’s “9.5 Theses for Technology Policy in the Next Administration”

by on April 30, 2008 · 15 comments

Susan Crawford points out that the Yale Information Society Project recently posted its “9.5 Theses for Technology Policy in the Next Administration.” It’s apparently also the theme for the 18th Annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference (CFP).

What I found intriguing about the list is that (a) protecting free speech doesn’t make their radar screen, which seems both sad and puzzling since it will continue to be under attack regardless of who is in charge next year; and, (b) perhaps less surprisingly, much of what they are calling for the next administration to do would involve more regulation of the Internet, broadband networks and media markets. Here’s their list and how I would score each item [Note: I am using CAPS below not to scream, but just to differentiate my scoring versus their proposal]:

1. Privacy. Protect human dignity, autonomy, and privacy by providing individuals with control over the collection, use, and distribution of their personal information and medical information. [= MORE REGULATION OF THE NET]

2. Access. Promote high-speed Internet access and increased connectivity for all, through both government and private initiatives, to reduce the digital divide. [= MORE REGULATION, + potential subsidies]

3. Network Neutrality. Legislate against unreasonable discrimination by network providers against particular applications or content to maintain the Internet’s role in fostering innovation, economic growth, and democratic communication. [= MORE REGULATION]

4. Transparency. Preserve accountability and oversight of government functions by strengthening freedom of information and improving electronic access to government deliberations and materials. [=LIMITED REGULATORY IMPACT]

5. Innovation. Restore balance to intellectual property rules and explore alternative incentives to better promote innovation, freedom, access to knowledge, and human development. [UNCLEAR REGULATORY IMPACT]

6. Democracy. Empower individuals to fully participate in government and politics by making electronic voting consistent, reliable, and secure with voter-verifiable paper trails. [=UNCLEAR]

7. Education. Expand effective exceptions and limitations to intellectual property for education to ensure that teachers and students have access to innovative digital teaching techniques and educational resources. [=POSSIBLY LESS REGULATION, BUT AGAIN UNCLEAR]

8. Culture. Ensure that law and technology promote a free, vibrant and democratic culture, fair exchanges between different cultures, and individual rights to create and participate in culture. [=UNCLEAR; DEPENDS HOW INTERPRETED & ENFORCED]

9. Diversity. Limit media concentration and expand media ownership to ensure a diverse marketplace of ideas. [=MORE REGULATION]

9.5 Openness. Support innovation and fair competition by stimulating openness in software, technological standards, Internet governance, and content licensing. [=UNCLEAR, BUT SOUNDS LIKE SOME NEW REGS WOULD BE NEEDED]

In sum, it sounds like if the Yale folks have their way, there’s going to be a fair bit more regulating going on in years to come. But it remains to be seen how some of these objectives would be interpreted and enforced. As always, the devil is in the details. I just wish someone would instead offer a 9.5-point “Hands Off the Net” agenda.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2007/08/18/its-only-censorship-so-whats-the-problem/ enigma_foundry

    Adam:

    When you say

    What I found intriguing about the list is that (a) protecting free speech doesn’t make their radar screen,

    I would note the below item::

    3. Network Neutrality. Legislate against unreasonable discrimination by network providers against particular applications or content to maintain the Internet’s role in fostering innovation, economic growth, and democratic communication. [= MORE REGULATION]

    Network neutrality is key to maintaining the freedom of speech on the internet; that’s what it is all about.

  • Adam Thierer

    Just like the Fairness Doctrine was the key to maintaining free speech on broadcast networks, right Enigma? In other words, we can put government in charge of dictating fairness online and then trust they will only do what’s best. I mean, they would never think about trying to censor online speech, or anything like that.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2007/08/18/its-only-censorship-so-whats-the-problem/ enigma_foundry

    The fairness doctrine had it’s time and place; it made sense in the social and technological landscape in which it existed; it has however outlived it’s usefulness.

    I have posted many examples of the freedom of the press being harmed by lack of net neutrality:

    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/we-dont-need-no-thought-control/

    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2008/03/05/why-should-we-tolerate-just-a-little-repression/

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2007/08/18/its-only-censorship-so-whats-the-problem/ enigma_foundry

    In other words, we can put government in charge of dictating fairness online and then trust they will only do what’s best. I mean, they would never think about trying to censor online speech, or anything like that.

    I would never advocate giving any government the right to censor speech.

    How exactly could net neutrality enforcement lead to the government getting the power to censor speech?

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis

    I guess I’m failing to see the significant speech problems in the modern internet, Adam- care to elaborate? Do you mean the kinds of problems Open Net Initiative has been working on, or something else? I strongly agree with you that free speech should be a core value for the internet, but at least inside the US, the internet seems to be clearly the most vibrant and free platform for speech that there is, with no significant threats to it that I’m aware of, which maybe is why it fell off this particular list.

    [I'll grant for the moment that network neutrality is not a speech issue; I'm sort of skeptical about comparisons between NN and the Fairness Doctrine but it isn't an interesting discussion to have for the nth time right now.]

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    Adam:

    When you say

    What I found intriguing about the list is that (a) protecting free speech doesn’t make their radar screen,

    I would note the below item::

    3. Network Neutrality. Legislate against unreasonable discrimination by network providers against particular applications or content to maintain the Internet’s role in fostering innovation, economic growth, and democratic communication. [= MORE REGULATION]

    Network neutrality is key to maintaining the freedom of speech on the internet; that’s what it is all about.

  • http://www.techliberation.com Adam Thierer

    Just like the Fairness Doctrine was the key to maintaining free speech on broadcast networks, right Enigma? In other words, we can put government in charge of dictating fairness online and then trust they will only do what’s best. I mean, they would never think about trying to censor online speech, or anything like that.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    The fairness doctrine had it’s time and place; it made sense in the social and technological landscape in which it existed; it has however outlived it’s usefulness.

    I have posted many examples of the freedom of the press being harmed by lack of net neutrality:

    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/w

    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2008/03/05/w

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com eee_eff

    In other words, we can put government in charge of dictating fairness online and then trust they will only do what’s best. I mean, they would never think about trying to censor online speech, or anything like that.

    I would never advocate giving any government the right to censor speech.

    How exactly could net neutrality enforcement lead to the government getting the power to censor speech?

  • http://tieguy.org/ Luis

    I guess I’m failing to see the significant speech problems in the modern internet, Adam- care to elaborate? Do you mean the kinds of problems Open Net Initiative has been working on, or something else? I strongly agree with you that free speech should be a core value for the internet, but at least inside the US, the internet seems to be clearly the most vibrant and free platform for speech that there is, with no significant threats to it that I’m aware of, which maybe is why it fell off this particular list.

    [I'll grant for the moment that network neutrality is not a speech issue; I'm sort of skeptical about comparisons between NN and the Fairness Doctrine but it isn't an interesting discussion to have for the nth time right now.]

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