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Digital Liberty blog

Internet Freedom Survives Cyber Bullies By | December 14, 2017

For years—including throughout much of the Clinton Administration—taxpayers and consumers enjoyed an FCC that for the most part accepted its mission within the confines of the law. Since the Telecommunications Act was passed in 1996, the technology sector flourished and was allowed to innovate as a result of a light-touch regulatory policy.


The previous FCC ignored input from its own economists, stumbling toward a world of Soviet-style government-run regulatory maze with an FCC-mandated toll booth around every corner.


But today, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC voted to Restore Internet Freedom, and removed the Title II framework that would hamstring future innovation.


Government Shouldn't Wreck the "Grand Bargain" for Internet Data By Bret Baker | December 05, 2017

The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, along with the Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, held a hearing on algorithms and their impact on consumers. As citizens' data is increasingly used by companies to improve their services, lawmakers want to have a better idea of what and how this information is used. This unfamiliarity, however, isn’t stopping some from looking to scratch that regulatory itch.

Throughout the hearing, there was bipartisan concern for data protection and the blocking of content online and the First Amendment issues relating to that. Though the hearing was on the impact of algorithms, members of both parties brought up the impact in relation to the FCC’s upcoming vote on the Restoring Internet Freedom Order

Title II is Not Net Neutrality By Bret Baker | November 28, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission, in a bold move that breaks from a tradition of secrecy, released the text of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIF) weeks before they plan to vote on the final order at their December meeting. RIF will return the classification of Internet service providers (ISPs) to being a Title I information service. This would undo the destructive work of the Obama FCC and restore light-touch regulations that played a major role in the internet’s growth in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Removing fanatical and cumbersome regulations will allow the internet to continue to evolve and grow the world economy, but that isn’t stopping ideologues from doing all they can to prevent this reclassification from taking place.

The primary way protesters are going about undermining the FCC’s vote are by muddying the waters about what would happen because of the reclassification. By framing the upcoming vote as undoing “net neutrality” and leaving it at that, protesters narrowly and disingenuously define what net neutrality even is.

States Shouldn't Interfere as Internet Freedom is Restored By Katie McAuliffe | November 21, 2017

Net neutrality under Title II is far from “neutral.”

Title II means giving government control of the internet so unelected bureaucrats can micromanage how the internet is delivered, what people pay for the internet, and ultimately, what they see on the internet.

Chairman Ajit Pai and the Federal Communications Commission nixing Title II regulation of the internet would be the right move for individuals of all political stripes looking to create and share content on the internet. By mandating internet service providers treat all applications the same, service providers lack incentive to experiment with new ideas of how to get consumers the products they want.

Media Ownership Modernization Adopted! By Digital Liberty | November 16, 2017

The following can be attributed to Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty:

Today, the Federal Communications Commission brought its media ownership rules into the 21st century.

By eliminating unnecessary rules such as the newspaper/broadcast cross ownership rule, radio/television cross-ownership rule, the attribution rule for television joint sales agreements, and the eight voices test of the Local Television Ownership Rule, the FCC has removed cumbersome barriers for local news organizations. 

Read Katie McAuliffe's piece on media ownership in The Hill

When these rules were created in 1975, the internet in its current form was unimaginable. Removing these regulations will help local news outlets continue to produce a diversity of local voices, which will continue to provide needed local news to everyday Americans.

Light Touch Regulation for a Global Blockchain Revolution By Bret Baker | November 14, 2017

As blockchain technology is used for more and more purposes beyond currencies like bitcoin, more and more governments around the world are looking to get in on the economic action blockchain technology is creating. As these overzealous bureaucrats and public officials try to centralize and control services that are popular because of their dispersed power, they only harm the adoption and innovation of a service that can improve security, transparency, and property rights compared to today’s status quo. Countries that have a light-touch regulatory structure can reap the economic and societal benefits of the emerging blockchain revolution.

Cryptocurrencies Cut Out the Government Middleman By Bret Baker | October 30, 2017

46 years ago, President Nixon took the United States off what remained of the gold standard, a system where the value of the dollar was directly linked to gold. This tying of paper currency to a physical commodity gave individuals assurances that their life savings had some value beyond the paper their cash was printed on. Once off the gold standard, US currency became “fiat money,” meaning its value was determined by the government that printed it.

While there are benefits to both systems, trusting a government more than 20 trillion dollars in debt to have a sober valuation of its currency can be a bit of stretch for some people. After the financial crisis, trust in financial institutions dipped, and people looked for alternatives to the existing system. That’s when the idea for bitcoin emerged. Now over 8 years later, it has proven a viable commodity for people to put their trust in – precisely because it doesn’t require the top-down central authority required in other systems.

Denmark Disbands Telecom Regulator By Bret Baker | October 26, 2017

Removing the incentive for bureaucratic entrenchment is key for the reform of telecommunications and technology industries.

Discussions comparing Denmark's telecommunications regulations to those in the US have concluded that a lean and focused FCC could both provide necessary oversight and foster the necessary investment and competition that allowed the internet to develop rapidly like it did in the late 1990s and 2000s.

Americans Against Government Run Internet By Katie McAuliffe | July 12, 2017

If you’ve heard anything about the “net neutrality” debate, the media would have you think the public is in favor of backbreaking Title II utility style regulations for the internet.

The liberal media won’t tell you that already the overwhelming message coming through in the Federal Communications Commission comment proceeding is “get the government out of my internet.” Of about 5 million comments submitted thus far, well over 3 million of the comments submitted support repealing Obama’s regulatory takeover.

By analyzing language found in common form letters and slogans used on comments submitted to the FCC, a CASE study found that around 65% of the docket is in support of repealing Title II regulations – again, that’s more than 3 million comments out of over 5 million filed.

Unleash the Promise of Artificial Intelligence By Daniel Savickas | June 29, 2017

It’s been the plot of many science-fiction novels and films over time. The story is always more or less the same. Well-intentioned scientists create a revolutionary machine, only to see said machine gain a mind of its own and overrun the human race. While compelling, it is important to remember that these plots are still, in fact, fiction.

However, many are still trying to apply these fictions to reality. To them, innovation, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) represent the technological menaces that overruns the human race, or, in this case, the job market. They sound the alarm bells, and try to use policy to stop this threat.

Again, fiction.

AI means more than simply the creation of robots to do jobs that humans would ordinarily do. This is a gross oversimplification. What it actually means is utilizing technology to be able to assess any given environment, and provide information and assistance to make any goal more easily achievable.