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.

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