This morning, I’m gearing up for Thursday’s noon-time Cato book forum on the Mercatus/Jerry Brito book, Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive to Excess.

With the recent release and withdrawal of a Republican Study Committee memo on copyright policy, there is even greater tension around the issues than usual. So here’s a line from the planning email I sent to panelists Jerry Brito, Tom W. Bell, and Mitch Glazier.

Given how hot the issues we’ll discuss tend to be, I’ll emphasize that we’re all friends through the transitive property of friendship. I’ll be policing against ad hominem and stuff like that coming from any side. In other words, don’t bother saying or implying why a co-panelist thinks what he does because you don’t know, and because I’ll make fun of you for it.

It might be worth coming just to see how well I do with my moderation duties. Whatever the case, I think our panelists will provide a vibrant discussion on the question of where libertarians and conservatives should be on copyright. Register here now.

As some of you know, I’ve been closely following the World Conference on International Telecommunication, an international treaty conference in December that will revise rules, for example, on how billing for international phone calls is handled. Some participants are interested in broadening the scope of the current treaty to include rules about the Internet and services provided over the Internet.

I haven’t written much publicly about the WCIT lately because I am now officially a participant—I have joined the US delegation to the conference. My role is to help prepare the US government for the conference, and to travel to Dubai to advise the government on the issues that arise during negotiations.

To help the general public better understand what we can expect to happen at WCIT, Mercatus has organized an event next week that should be informative. Ambassador Terry Kramer, the head of the US delegation, will give a keynote address and take questions from the audience. This will be followed by what should be a lively panel discussion between me, Paul Brigner from the Internet Society, Milton Mueller from Syracuse University, and Gary Fowlie from the ITU, the UN agency organizing the conference. The event will be on Wednesday, November 14, at 2 pm at the W hotel in Washington.

If you’re in the DC area and are interested in getting a preview of the WCIT, I hope to see you at the event on Wednesday. Be sure to register now since we are expecting a large turnout.

The fine folks at George Mason University School of Law’s Henry G. Manne Program in Law & Economics Studies have put together another stellar agenda and lineup of speakers for their Second Annual Conference on Competition, Search & Social Media. The event will be held at GMU’s School of Law on Wednesday, May 16th from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Panel topics are listed as follows:

PANEL 1: Antitrust and Platform Competition in Search and Social Media (This panel will discuss issues involving market definition, network effects, and dynamic considerations when analyzing search and social media platform competition.)

PANEL 2: Search, Duties to Deal, and Essential Facilities (This panel will explore the extent to which search engines should be viewed as utilities, and whether they may have a legal duty to assist their rivals under the essential facilities doctrine as it survives after Trinko and Linkline.)

PANEL 3: The Interface Between Privacy and Competitive Analysis in Search and Social Media (This panel will explore the extent to which privacy should be germane to antitrust analysis of online search and social networks, including whether privacy can be viewed as a dimension of quality and the extent to which privacy regulation may affect competition.)

PANEL 4: Are There Workable Remedies for “Search Engine Bias”? (This panel will discuss economic, legal (including First Amendment), and practical issues surrounding potential remedies to allegedly “biased” search engine results.)

I’m honored to have been asked to moderate the second panel since it focuses on an issue I’ve been given a lot of thought to lately. (See my recent working paper, “The Perils of Classifying Social Media Platforms as Public Utilities.“)

Seriously, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better set of speakers on these topics. Check them all out here, where you can also RSVP if you’re interested.

TechFreedom president and TLF contributor Berin Szoka will be speaking today at the
Economics of Privacy conference hosted by the Silicon Flatirons center
at the University of Colorado and co-sponsored by TechFreedom. The
entire conference will be livestreamed (embedded below) begining at 11am EST; Berin’s
panel begins at 4:30pm EST. Highlights include a keynote conversation
with FTC Commissioner Julie Brill and keynote speeches by FTC Bureau of
Economics Director Joseph Farrell and Carnegie Mellon University
Information Technology and Public Policy Associate Professor Alessandro
Acquisti. Check the schedule for full details. The Twitter hashtag for
the event is #flatirons.

Continue reading →

TechFreedom, in association with the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), will host a lunch panel with a number of leading experts to discuss the FTC’s recently-proposed revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Opening remarks will be delivered by the Federal Trade Commission’s Phyllis Marcus, a Senior Staff Attorney at the Division of Advertising Practices. Afterwards, the panel will discuss the FTC’s proposals and what they mean for children, parents, Internet companies and innovation.

FOSI CEO Stephen Balkam will serve as master of ceremonies. The panel will be moderated by Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom, and will include:

The event will take place at the Top of the Hill Banquet and Conference Center at the Reserve Officers Association (One Constitution Ave NE, Washington DC 20002) on Wednesday, October 12 from 12:30 to 2:30pm, and include a complimentary lunch. Space is limited so please click here to register.

In addition, you can let everyone else know you’ll be coming or watching the livestream (page will be updated when event begins) by joining the Facebook event page.

You can also keep up with the event by following the Twitter discussion at the #COPPA hashtag.

[Cross posted at Truthonthemarket]

As I have posted before, I was disappointed that the DOJ filed against AT&T in its bid to acquire T-Mobile.  The efficacious provision of mobile broadband service is a complicated business, but it has become even more so by government’s meddling.  Responses like this merger are both inevitable and essential.  And Sprint and Cellular South piling on doesn’t help — and, as Josh has pointed out, further suggests that the merger is actually pro-competitive.

Tomorrow, along with a great group of antitrust attorneys, I am going to pick up where I left off in that post during a roundtable discussion hosted by the American Bar Association.  If you are in the DC area you should attend in person, or you can call in to listen to the discussion–but either way, you will need to register here.  There should be a couple of people live tweeting the event, so keep up with the conversation by following #ABASAL.

Richard Brunell, Director of Legal Advocacy, American Antitrust Institute, Boston
Allen Grunes, Partner, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Washington
Glenn Manishin, Partner, Duane Morris LLP, Washington
Geoffrey Manne, Lecturer in Law, Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland
Patrick Pascarella, Partner, Tucker Ellis & West, Cleveland

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C. 1700 K St. N.W. Fifth Floor Washington, D.C. 20006

For more information, check out the flyer here.

If you’re in DC this week, join Kevin Bankston from EFF, myself, fellow TLFers Berin Szoka, Geoff Manne, and Larry Downes, starting at 5:30pm at Johnny’s Half Shell, 400 North Capitol St NW. This event is being co-hosted by TLF and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Please RSVP on Facebook so we have an idea how many people are attending. Attendees must be 21 or older. Space is limited.

And ALF 15 is already in the works. We’re planning to do it in conjunction with Digital Capital Week on November 8th. Stay tuned for more details!

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Sorrell v. IMS Health has been heralded as a major victory for commercial free speech rights and raised serious questions about how to reconcile privacy regulations with the First Amendment. The high Court struck down a Vermont law requiring that doctors opt in before drug companies could use data about their prescription patterns to market (generally name-brand) drugs to them. But what does the Court’s decision really mean for the regulation of advertising, marketing, and data flows across the economy? Has free speech doctrine fundamentally changed? Will existing privacy laws be subject to new legal challenges? How might the decision affect the ongoing debate about privacy regulation in Congress and at the FTC? Continue reading →

The Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference—the original privacy conference—is June 14th through 16th at the Georgetown University Law School here in D.C.

It has a neat layout this year, with a focus on each of the topics—computers, freedom, and privacy—on each of its three days. I’ve always found that it’s a rollicking conference at which the newest ideas and problems get aired. It’s got some big draws if you’re into that kind of thing: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will speak on Thursday. But there really is something for everyone. TLFer’s Ryan Radia and Berin Szoka will join yours truly and other experts on a panel entitled “Do Not Track: Yaaay or Boooh?”, which should be fun.

Check out the agenda, then register.

Last week, I spoke to a group of Capitol Hill staffers about the current debate over online privacy policy. The topic is red-hot right now with 6 major bills pending and plenty of international and state-based activity percolating. I offered the staffers an overview of these issues as well as an alternative vision for how we might handle privacy concerns going forward.

I have embedded the video of my briefing below and it can also be found on the Mercatus website here. And the slide deck I used that day can also be found down below or over on Scribd here.

Continue reading →