Gigi Sohn: The Top Tech Policy Issues Driving the Debate (Ep. 181)
Gigi Sohn gives us a rundown of the key tech policy issues driving the debate in Washington right now.
Gigi Sohn (@gigibsohn) is a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate. She is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable and democratic communications networks. For 30 years, Gigi has worked to defend and preserve the fundamental competition and innovation policies that have made broadband Internet access more ubiquitous, competitive, affordable, open and protective of user privacy. From 2013-2016, Gigi was Counselor to the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler. From 2001-2013, Gigi served as the Co-Founder and CEO of Public Knowledge, a leading telecommunications, media and technology policy advocacy organization. She was previously a Project Specialist in the Ford Foundation’s Media, Arts and Culture unit and Executive Director of the Media Access Project, a public interest law firm. Gigi holds a BS in Broadcasting and Film, Summa Cum Laude from the Boston University College of Communication and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution by Susan Crawford (Yale University Press, forthcoming, 2019)
Net neutrality bill looks increasingly unlikely
The success of the net neutrality bill designed to reinstate the 2015 net neutrality rules that passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee last week by a vote of 30-22, looks increasingly unlikely to succeed, as its still gotta get past the Senate, and the Trump administration has threatened to veto even if it does. A floor vote in the House is expected today.
Congress ramps up tech scrutiny
Congress is continuing its ramp up of scrutiny of big tech, looking specifically at how social media and tech companies enable harmful speech. They’re also looking at competition issues like Amazon’s promotion of its own private label products over competing products offered by smaller businesses.
The House Judiciary Committee is holding a bipartisan hearing today on the rise of hate crime and white nationalism 10AM in 2141 Rayburn.
On the competition front…several members are taking a fresh look at antitrust issues following Elizabeth Warren’s SXSW announcement of her proposal to rein in big tech with better antitrust enforcement. And so Amazon quietly removed promotional ads that gave preferential treatment to its own private label products. And Senators Amy Klobuchar and Marsha Blackburn sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to investigate Google for antitrust and data privacy violations.
Elizabeth Warren also introduced a new bill last week that could hold tech executives criminally liable for tech breaches. And Ed Markey introduced a bill that would require Google and Facebook to comply with online privacy rules. Markey’s bill is designed to stem harmful marketing on channels like YouTube that are largely unregulated in terms of the marketing and advertising that kids are exposed to.
Google cancels AI ethics board
Google has killed the AI ethics board it set up. That’s after thousands of employees and public advocates pushed the company to remove Heritage Foundation President Kay Cole James–over comments she made about trans people and for the Heritage Foundation’s skepticism regarding climate change. The board also lacked civil rights leaders, as NAACP President Derrick Johnson noted on Twitter.
Leading AI scientists to Amazon: stop selling facial recognition technology
Leading AI scientists, including Yoshua Bengio, who won the Turing Award, which is basically the Nobel Prize of technology, have signed a letter urging Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition software, known as Rekognition. A couple of peer-reviewed papers have found the software, which police departments have been using, disproportionately misidentifies women and people of color. The New York Times has more.
Microsoft vows to focus on discrimination at employee meetings
Microsoft promises to give its employees space to discuss discrimination issues at monthly employee meetings. CEO Satya Nadella and HR Chief Kathleen Hogan announced during an all-hands call last week. The move comes after employees erupted in an email thread, complaining about gender discrimination issues at the company.
House Judiciary Committee
Today, Tues., 4/9 at 10AM
Rayburn 2141, Streaming
Federal Trade Commission
Tues., 4/9 and Wed., 4/10
400 7th St SW, Washington, DC 20024
Senate Judiciary Committee
Wed., 4/10 at 2:30PM
Dirksen 226, Streaming
Senate Commerce Committee
Thurs, 4/11 at 10AM
216 Hart, Streaming
Fri., 4/12 at 10AM
1775 Massachusetts Ave.. NW
FCC Open Meeting
Fri., 4/12 at 10:30AM
445 12th St. SW
Commission Meeting Room, Streaming